In my opinion, the biggest lie the devil has successfully deceived the world with is that men and women can and should be friends.
Yes! I can hear the disagreements already...but hear me out.
The life experience I've received from my past, and from David and I helping others that have found themselves in our situations, is helping me to learn more and more about this everyday. Not to mention the two twenty-somethings that live in our house who are trying to figure out life and love and the difference between right and wrong.
From all this data that I'm soaking up from every direction, I have come to firmly believe that my stand on this is right. The world is now fully convinced that men and women can be friends. The devil has convinced us that it's a good thing, and it's spilling over into the Christian world.
Stills disagreeing? I fully expect it. That's how deep the lie goes. The concept is so accepted that to dispute it is absurd.
But stay with me....
The Lord made men and women very different. We don't think the same way, and He made us this way for a reason. Men and women compliment each other. They each posess what the other needs to feel complete in a marital relationship. Women are meant to be nurturers, and men are meant to be providers. Women are more emotional, where men are more stoic. So if all we need is advice or a friendly talk, then we should understand that we need go to those we are like for those things. It says in the bible that the older women should teach the younger women, and the older men should teach the younger. This is our support and friendship system. The Lord Himself set it up and who are we to argue?
But there are many who do. Many who try to be friends, and many who get burned in the process. When men and women try to be friends, there will almost always be one that wants to pursue more. Even if it's not in the initial plan. The more the friendship progresses the more likely it will happen.
During our teenage years it is more accepted. When we are looking for a future husband or wife it's ok to have the friendships with opposite sex. Male and female groups of friends are usually how significant others are met. However the older you get the more these kinds of friendships can effect your life negatively. If you are married or engaged, a friendship with someone of the opposite sex can be detrimental to the relationship.
Let me first clarify what I am defining as a friendship. Friendships require one on one private conversations, either in person or by phone or text. I'm not saying we can't be nice to the opposite sex, on the contrary, I'm nice to the brethren in our church, or to the men I would come in contact with in my workplace. But that doesn't mean we are friends. We don't text or talk on the phone. We don't go out for lunch or coffee. In fact, even the conversations at church or work are not of a serious nature, and they are never private. No personal subjects are ever discussed. If there is something questionable that needs discussed I would recommend them to someone else or have someone be present with me.
That being said... If a man or woman desires to have a friend of the opposite sex after they are married, then there is something going on in their life that needs addressed.
Think about it, you are committed to someone already. You married this person who is your best friend, and more. They complete you in a way no other person can. There should be no reason to ever desire the company of another person of the opposite sex.
One of the most common instances is for a person to want to stay friends with a former significant other. If you desire to stay friends with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend after you have broken up, then you need to figure out why. My guess is it means you're not over them. If this is the case, future relationships need to be put off till those feelings can be resolved. Wanting to be friends out of niceness is not good either, it will only lead to false hopes from one of the parties involved.
You break up and you move on.
That's the way it goes.
Be nice when you see them, but there is no need for more.
Also, you should never, ever put yourself in a situation that would make your spouse uncomfortable, or question your motives. Marriages are built on trust. It is the cornerstone that everything else leans on. If you do something, even if it is completely innocent, to shake that trust, it can take years to repair. And telling them that 'it's just a friend' is never the answer. If you have gotten to a point where you have to explain or defend your relationship with that person, then it's gone too far and needs to be ended.
We should strive to make our spouse feel as safe as possible in the marriage. I know how it feels to be unsafe, and it's the most terrifying feeling in the world. Knowingly continuing a friendship with the opposite sex, and making your spouse feel unsafe is one of the most disrespectful things you can do in a marriage.
The older I get, the more adamant I am that this subject needs discussed. My poor twenty-something step-sons are probably sick of me trying to drill this into their heads. But it is a subject I am very passionate about. I am going to do my best to teach these guys, and whomever will listen, what it really means to respect their spouse, and to always avoid the appearance of evil if at all possible. It will either kill me or I'll die trying.