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Mixed Friendship in a World of Hormones


“Yes, your thoughts betray you. 
Your feelings for your friends are strong. Especially for… sister.”

-Darth Vader


'In the spring of 2011, two young adults in South Africa were expecting their first child. They had been dating and living together for a few years and - after the woman discovered she was pregnant - they began to plan their wedding. They had met at University and - as their parents lived far away - they had simply never got around to meeting each other’s families.

'Weeks before the wedding, family members from both side began to arrive in town to celebrate with them. But the parties stopped when the parents met. When the groom’s father met the bride’s mother, they realised that they knew each other… and that the soon to be married couple were actually full-blooded brother and sister. The siblings had been separated when the boy was two years old and the girl two months in an acrimonious divorce. 

'As the news of this Freudian nightmare was unpacked, how do you think it affected the couple’s relationship? Did they ignore the discovery and go on with the wedding? Did they continue to live together as lovers? No. As you may expect they were devastated. They cancelled the ceremony and changed the nature of their relationship. They began to learn how to relate to each other as sister and brother. Have they ever again felt a sexual attraction to each other? It is probable in light of their former history. But there is now a different type of bond between that keeps any such feelings at bay.

Mixed Friendship
'Similarly, mixed friendships help deter against sexual immorality by filling the void between the genders with something so healthy and robust that sexual attraction is held at bay when it arises. If there is no existing connection between a man and woman, then sexual attraction becomes the most powerful dynamic whenever it arises.

'Practically, what do I mean? Let me give you an honest example from a man’s perspective. I am fortunate enough to have a few female companions. All of them possess varying degrees of external beauty. When a particularly lovely friend comes into my house and takes a seat on the sofa next mine, I may notice her sit down, fold up her legs and turn her head to stare out the window. But even if she is wearing a summer dress, those are not a stranger’s legs and that is not a stranger’s neck. If that was just some Ms. Unkown, then any sexual attraction at the sight of her poetically curved neck could become the primary force between us. It would be the lens through which I view her. If that perception continues, a sinful lust will begin to grow.

'But those aren’t the legs and neck of a Ms. Unknown. This is my friend. This is the woman I have been sharing my concerns and thoughts with for some years now. We have prayed together often. The void between us has been filled. Spiritually she is my sister. The gospel has alchemised potential adultery into real siblinghood. The curve of her neck – attractive as it is - is of less interest to me than her bigger-than-Christmas heart. Sexual attraction that might stir as she moves across the room and sits near me, is ricocheted off our relationship like a sling-shot fired stone is ricocheted off an armoured tank.

'Those who teach that men and women shouldn’t befriend each other think it’s perfectly sensible to strip off the armour from the tank.'

-From 'Forbidden Friendships' chapter 5
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