I stumbled upon a conservative evangelical arguing for a biblical case for emotional intimacy in friendship. When I first started to advocate for intimate friendships between men and women on my blog five years ago, I had several people approach me with the question, “Is it biblical?”
For many conservatives, cross-gender friendship is not in the Bible. That closes the case for them. Other conservative evangelicals point to the absence of such examples as a clear indication platonic intimacy is not biblical and we should not nurture such closeness: “the only clear examples are of same-gender friendships (ie. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, or Jesus and “the beloved disciple”).” Some insist, "Intimacy between a man and woman should be reserved for marriage, period."
I am always fascinated then when a conservative evangelical discovers platonic intimacy between men and women—even between men and women who are married but not to each other--as biblical.
I am deeply intrigued because to be “biblical” in some hermeneutical approaches one has to have a clear command: “Thou shalt love thy cross-gender friend passionately and fervently from the heart.” If there is nothing “clear” like that, there are plenty of responses like, “It’s not in the Bible.”
I’ll provide you with the link below if you want to read the full post but I was not surprised to see that even a conservative evangelical can come to the conclusion that platonic intimacy between men and women in friendship is “biblical.”
1. Although the focus of the article is on emotional intimacy in friendship in general, the author admits there is no biblical restriction for emotional intimacy in cross-gender friendships.
The author even talks about how deep friendships in the Bible are “union of hearts.”
2. The author even makes the case that the “biblical remedy for loneliness is friendship and not marriage.”
The “Bible has a great deal to say about the longings of the human heart. This is more pronounced in some places than in others, but there is much about love, friendship and fellowship. It is very striking, however, that almost never are these longings and their satisfaction placed in the context of sexual relationship”.
This of course, is the exact opposite of contemporary conservative evangelicals who promote marriage as the answer to loneliness. Historically, the premodern world held a high view of friendship. Intimate friendship was (and still is) a path for combating loneliness. Friendship is a union of hearts and minds. .
3. I loved how the author found embodied intimacy or expressions of physical affection to be appropriate with a biblical oneness.
“Characteristic expressions of this union of hearts are an affectionate embrace or kiss, weeping, gift-giving and vows of loyalty.” Although he merely mentions it, he does see that relational closeness includes physical closeness in friendship.
4. The author makes a clear stand that sexual intimacy is for marriage only but he warns against any conclusion that forbids spouses from nurturing relational closeness in friendship beyond marriage.
Yes, a conservative evangelical can come to these conclusions. We've come a long way baby! I welcome conservatives to join us at Bold Boundaries: Expanding Friendship Between Men and Women.
If you want to read further here is the post: