A few days ago I recorded a video “Is feminism bad for women?” (See the bottom of this post to watch the full thing).
In the video, I said that feminism is not good because – in its current incarnation – it seems to want to eliminate the differences between men and women, leaving no space for appreciating the traditionally ‘feminine’ roles such as motherhood. (Watch the video for the full thing!)
One of the things which struck me which I didn’t have time to talk about in the video is the question of feminism and friendship: is feminism actually bad news for friendships between men and women?
I think it is, for a couple of reasons. Firstly – since, as I just said, modern feminism seems to want to eliminate the differences between men and women, we no longer relate as men and women. We are just generic ‘people’. The thing is, if there are differences between men and women, relationships won’t take account of that.
Chivalry is a pretty old fashioned word these days – and I’m not saying we should bring back the 1950s or anything like that! – but I have found it enormously beneficial in all my relationships to be aware of the dynamics going on between men and women. The fact that it sounds so ridiculously outdated and sexist to be saying something which is actually fairly common-sense shows just how much feminism has influenced society. (I’ve written more on this site about the differences between men and women.)
Secondly, there is a large part of feminism which seeks sexual liberation – in other words, to have the same sexual freedom that men enjoy. (I think this is a large part of what is behind the abortion movement). In the programme I mention in the video “The Trouble with Women”, Anne Robinson talked to some of the grid girls at Brands Hatch. In this part of the programme she suggested that women should have the right to use their sexuality and bodies however they wanted to. However, later in the programme she talked to women who had faced sexual abuse in public places (e.g. the London Underground) – and yet didn’t really draw any connection between these two things, other than we need more feminism to correct this.
This, again, struck me as being self-defeating. We live in a society which is obsessed with sex and sexual attraction. If feminism includes sexual liberation, then it will be bad for women and bad for friendship. I wrote an article about this on my blog – “Sex is burning the house down #MeToo”.
Watching the programme I was struck once again by how lost our society is when it comes to men and women, and how the Bible offers a compelling and attractive vision for flourishing for us whether male or female.
There’s been a bit of a storm created over the last few days about the Revoice Conference. The conference description says: “Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality”.
This has created a big discussion online – for a start, Douglas Wilson has some links to different people as well as his own take. The gist seems to be (1) is it OK to identify as a ‘gay’ Christian? (this is what Owen Strachan takes issue with); (2) it’s not right to explore the bounds of celibacy as to what is appropriate for same-sex attracted Christians.
I don’t want to talk about the first issue as that has been going on for some time. I do want to talk about the issue of celibacy, as it’s relevant to what we’re about here at Friend Zone.
Doug Wilson says this in his piece:
As Hill’s book makes plain, a commitment to celibacy does not prevent one from falling in love with a best friend, or from being heartbroken when that friend moves away. So on one end of the spectrum we have a prohibition of sexual consummation, and in the context of this Revoice conference, no one disagrees about that. But on the other end, what is legitimate? Where is the line supposed to be? When does okay turn into not okay?
Some of my questions might seem ludicrous, or impertinent, but I am in deadly earnest. Suppose that an oath-bound set of friends—what Hill is arguing for—is living together. They are committed to celibacy, which means . . . what, exactly? What does day-to-day life look like in the home? We would appear to know of the one thing prohibited (although even the boundaries of that may be uncertain), but there would also appear to be a wide range of things that still need to be discussed.
But in this new world of blurry definitions, what does celibacy not allow? Is hand-holding out? When they are watching a movie, how close can they sit together? Can they cuddle? When a man falls in love with his friend, is that a violation of the commitment to celibacy? I think it is high time for someone to define celibacy. What do you mean by it? Does a commitment to celibacy exclude sleeping together? Showering together? Nudity? Physical, affectionate contact? Hand-holding? Back rubs? Falling in love? If there is sexual arousal, but no orgasm, is that still celibacy? If a man falls in love with his celibate partner, and they kiss, but it goes no further, is that celibacy?
This is interesting because I think it raises a question around the nature of sin and sanctification which underlies this disagreement.
Sin, I think all would agree, is more than simply actions – it comes from the heart. Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (ESV). It’s not just the mouth – we know that sin proceeds because our hearts are impure, not the other way round. Our actions do not make us impure – impure actions flow from impure hearts. Therefore – the only solution is to fix the heart problem, not to fix our actions. God alone can fix our heart problem – these oft-quoted verses from Ezekiel 36 prophecy what God was to accomplish in Jesus: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
So we need new hearts, we need to be renewed by the Spirit. I think all would agree so far. God takes our sinful desires and transforms them into gospel desires. We are renewed from the inside out. It’s important to remember that the goal is not for us simply to avoid what is sinful but to love.
The issues seem to be (1) here exactly does same-sex attraction ‘fit’ within this? Is it ENTIRELY bad, or is there something good which is horribly distorted by sin? (2) is it actually possible for our desires to be truly transformed? Is it reasonable to expect that this side of glory?
Let me give an example from my own life. I am a married man, but I occasionally find women who I am not married to attractive. I used to think this was an entirely sinful thing and repent of it all – but, the thing is, it didn’t stop attraction happening, and it actually led to me basically avoiding women for fear of what might happen. In my mind, avoiding women became the way I dealt with sin. Over time, I have started to see that I was wrong here – or at least, only partially right. As I said previously, attraction is not one-dimensional: it has multiple dimensions – some of them are good and right and godly, some of them are bad and wrong and sinful. It has been in recognising this that I’ve been able to take steps towards friendship – when I meet a woman where there is attraction, I find it helpful to think that there are some good things about my feelings as well as some which are sinful. Through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, as I repent and turn to Christ, I hope that what is bad is decreasing whereas what is good is increasing. I wonder if something of this is going on with Christians who experience same-sex attraction – is the desire entirely wrong, or is there something which can be redeemed?
I often return to 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” We don’t lack the tools here – we have the Holy Spirit, we have the gospel, sinful hearts can be made new and desires restored.
Returning to Doug Wilson’s piece, I disagree with his argument around celibacy. It seems to me the Revoice conference is not about trying to push the boundaries of what might be permissible – the Bible is quite clear that we are called to absolute sexual purity. You can’t have a little bit of sexual purity! At the same time, I think it is right to explore what celibacy and friendship looks like – not for the point of ‘pushing the bounds’, but rather what love might look like in these cases. Physical contact is not necessarily sexual – in some cultures, for example, it’s quite normal for two men to hold hands. It’s not about trying to do everything right up until crossing some kind of red line! It’s about working out what sanctification and holiness look like in a specific set of circumstances.
My contention, and this is partly why Friend Zone is here, is this: we live in a sexually saturated world. Everything is affected by it. Christians need to show the world not just how to avoid doing anything wrong, sexually, but more – that there is a better way. Sex is not God. Desires can be transformed, sinners can be forgiven – and that love is truly possible without the corruption of sexual desire. Maybe I am being over-optimistic, but what I read from the pages of the New Testament is that God doesn’t call us to anything which he doesn’t also provide the resources for. If God is calling the church to a new area of sexual purity and holiness, one which has perhaps been unexplored for a long time, then maybe it’s time for the church to listen.
Dr Graff defines micro-cheating as any act or behaviour by someone in a relationship which might suggest to a third party that they are emotionally or physically available. Before smartphones, micro-cheating might have been the sneaky removal of a wedding ring before a night out, but in the digital age it’s easier than ever to signal to someone that you’re available – anything from ‘deep liking’ (when you go way back into someone’s Instagram feed to like very old posts) to sending sly direct messages.
In other words, micro-cheating is about signalling to someone that you’re interested / available – via social media – before doing a physical deed.
Read the article for the full thing – I have a couple of thoughts I’d like to contribute:
God calls us to total purity.
Jesus is uncompromising when it comes to sexual purity. He says: “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Paul likewise tells the Ephesians, “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3).
God cares about our hearts – he cares about what goes on in them, even when no-one else can see. Sexual purity goes way deeper than what we do with our bodies – it extends into our minds as well. So when faced with the possibility of ‘micro-cheating’ – I think Jesus wouldn’t say it’s micro- cheating, I think he’d say it was proper cheating.
This is why I can’t agree with this ‘relationship expert’ who says:
“Fantasising about someone isn’t cheating. Fantasy is a private affair, and as you don’t act on it, that’s fair. However, if you message them afterwards, that is bad form. Ultimately, your fantasy is your own business.”
Even worse is what the other ‘relationship expert’ says:
If you’re going to be in a monogamous relationship with someone, the very least you can be allowed is porn and fantasy. I would actually argue that fantasies are safeguards against cheating.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. And no. Pornography is highly destructive to relationships – see the Fight the New Drug website for some facts.
Our minds are not simply our own business, our own private affair. What happens in our minds spills out into our actions. If you’re constantly fantasizing about someone – whether you’re already in a relationship or not – you will do damage to yourself and potentially them as well.
Purity is possible
If you think about Jesus’ words, they seem impossible to us: who can keep themselves free of lust in that way? How is that degree of purity possible for us – surely Jesus is expecting too much?
Well, fortunately for us, purity is possible – to quote the title of a (very good) book by Helen Thorne. Purity is possible in Jesus Christ, who died to forgive us of all that we do wrong (including sin in our minds), and who sends us the Holy Spirit to live in us to transform us.
We are not stuck with our flaws and failures – we have help. I’ve written more about this here.
Friendship is worth it
The BBC article talks about the dangers of ‘platonic’ friendship, and once again I have to disagree with the ‘relationship expert’:
“You’ve got to be honest and decent about it. If you are in a stable relationship and you do these things, such as building a relationship with someone else or texting other people, it’s out of order.”
Part of the assumption here seems to be that a platonic friendship between a man and woman isn’t really possible – anyone who gets involved in one is simply wanting there to be more. (I blogged about this before – Can you overcome attraction to be friends?) I agree that it’s not good to hide things from your spouse or partner, but it’s way too much to say even building a relationship with someone else is “out of order”.
What Friend Zone is all about is saying that friendship is not just a good thing, but it’s possible. Healthy friendships are needed in all areas of life – they are even needed for good marriages. Let’s hope and pray that society comes to see that.
Wesley Hill has written an article about friendship called Love, Again. He explains why he – a Christian, celibate gay man – befriends couples. In it, he tells his story of a friendship which went wrong. The whole article is worth reading – it’s well worth your time – but I just want to focus on one point which he makes. He says:
What I didn’t realize, though, is that, for the intentionally abstinent, giving up sex is only part of the deal, and there’s more than one line you can step across.
What he goes on to describe is a friendship which took on a bigger part in his life than it should:
Spencer was God’s solution to my loneliness, I was convinced. And, in so many words, I told God that I had made my peace with sexual abstinence—so long as I got to keep my friendship, the closest friendship I’d ever had, with Spencer. That was the deal. I felt confident about it, at peace with it, ready to shoulder the burdens of the decades ahead, so long as Spencer could live next door.
One of the issues we humans have is that of idolatry – the worship of created things (as in, things created by God) rather than God. In other words, exchanging the worship rightly due our Creator with the worship of created things. This exchange is described by Paul in Romans 1, but also Jeremiah 2:13 – “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Tim Keller wrote a book about this called Counterfeit Gods).
A god is something that we look to instead of the true God to provide us with security, prosperity, happiness, fulfilment, etc. And of course, the ‘gods’ we put in the place of God cannot satisfy. They might satisfy for a while – but we will be placing an intolerable burden on them.
This is why I think what Wesley says is helpful: it demonstrates what happens when a good thing – a friendship – becomes a ‘god thing’: a god substitute. It’s a salutary reminder that, as he says, there’s more than one boundary we can cross. It’s not enough simply to avoid lust – far more fundamental is the gods we worship.
I have a couple of thoughts about this:
Idolatry is not exclusive to friendships. Many couples go off the rails because they expect their partner to fulfil their every desire, when in actual fact only God can do that. If you put your spouse in the place of God, you will have real problems!
The solution to the problem is not avoidance. I’ve said several times on the site that the solution to lust is not to avoid those you are attracted to! It’s a matter of being transformed to love rather than simply avoid sin. It’s the same with idolatry – when we are let down by people or things, the solution is not to avoid those things but rather put our hope and trust in the Lord. I believe that God sometimes gives us this kind of experience to help us know more deeply the truth that only he satisfies our deepest longings. Much of what I’ve already said about immorality could be applied to idolatry also.
It’s helpful to be reminded that in relationships it’s always possible to go wrong in more than one way – we focus on lust because it in society it is perhaps the most visible, obvious issue. But the first greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength – if we go wrong with that, we don’t do well with loving our neighbour as ourselves.
I decided to try something new and record a video about a topic relating directly to issues people have – in this case, marriage and relationship problems. Although this site is about friendship and not marriage per se, many of the things you’d want to say are similar.
A couple of days ago, Beth Moore posted on her blog “A Letter to My Brothers“. It’s a moving account of her experience in the world of the church as a female leader. Please read it before reading this, as you won’t get the same sense by skimming over a few quotes pulled out from it.
I have a few thoughts on reading it, which aren’t really in any particular order at the moment, but I think what Beth was saying and what Friend Zone is about are connected.
To begin with:
It’s possible to have the right theology without the right practice. I’ve been in churches where the right things have been believed, but these have not been put into practice. In particular, it is possible to have the right theology of men and women without a corresponding practice of valuing women and treating them with the appropriate respect. This is, of course, no surprise – but it’s a shame when it seems to happen to such a big extent.
The church is not immune from worldliness. Over the past few years, as I said on this site, there has been a rise in the number of accusations of sexual harassment and so on. The church has never been immune from the world’s influence, and this is a sad illustration of exactly that.
What to do? Near the end of her letter, Beth writes:
Finally, I’m asking that you would simply have no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence. I’m asking for your deliberate and clearly conveyed influence toward the imitation of Christ in His attitude and actions toward women. I’m also asking for forgiveness both from my sisters and my brothers. My acquiescence and silence made me complicit in perpetuating an atmosphere in which a damaging relational dynamic has flourished. I want to be a good sister to both genders. Every paragraph in this letter is toward that goal.
But how do we actually go about doing that?
And this is where I think Friend Zone comes in. There are two (wrong) approaches when dealing with sin such as those mentioned here: (1) Licence – simply giving into it; (2) Legalism – setting up rules and regulations to try and prevent it happening (such as the Billy Graham Rule). The world flits between one and the other, especially on this issue. Sadly, these attitudes can also often be found in the church – the Billy Graham Rule is perhaps an extreme example, but many Christians have similar rules they abide by (even if not articulated).
I wonder whether the attitude which Beth describes is the product of a church which has tried to deal with sin through legalism. I have seen it far too often: many churches have implicitly believed the lie that the best way to combat the sexualisation of society is by men and women being segregated: if men and women don’t get ‘too close’, then they won’t do anything they shouldn’t do.
The fruit of this line of thinking, however, is that rather than men seeing women as sisters in Christ who are to be loved and befriended, instead they are seen as objects of temptation to be avoided. It’s no surprise that this doesn’t work – the Bible never gives us this option as an antidote for sin. Jesus’ harshest criticism was for the Pharisees who thought they were squeaky clean but inside were unclean – like ‘whitewashed tombs’ (Matthew 23:27). Our hearts need to change – for it is out of our hearts that evil comes (Mark 7:21). (I have written in more depth on this elsewhere on this site). Rather than showing forth in righteousness, this kind of behaviour ends up with men and women having only superficial relationships, or – worse – having illicit sexual relationships. Legalism cannot stem the tide of the sexualisation of society.
What Friend Zone is about is promoting healthy friendship between men and women. That is to say, the church needs to put its words into practice – men and women who are in Christ are no longer isolated individuals but brothers and sisters. What Beth’s letter shows is that if there was ever a time when Friend Zone was needed, this is it.
The article then goes on to say that friendships are important in combatting loneliness – but they can be difficult to form as adults.
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair agrees that this can be difficult to achieve: “Usually the basis of making a friend is a shared experience.” These are often in abundance in our earlier years, but once those easy opportunities are gone, you can forget that the initial basis for a friendship is to have a similar passion or interest. Joining a group or class based on something you really love, or volunteering for something you care about, can be a great first step for finding friendships, she advises.
The article then looks at the experience of a few people who have found friends in adult life, and concludes with some tips about finding friends from Linda Blair. Her tips made me think of how I would put it with Friend Zone – there are a few key differences as well as similarities.
Her tips, and my response:
Build your self-confidence.
She says: “When you’re comfortable with yourself, it shines out of you.” She seems to be saying, “Make sure that you’re an attractive person – the kind of person someone would want to be a friend to.”
This is probably the key difference with Christian friendship: friendship is not based on how much you think you can get out of the other person, but rather how much you can give. God doesn’t love us because we are worthy of his love – he loves us because he is love.
This is how the book of Deuteronomy talks about why God chose the Israelite people:
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deut 7:7-9)
The Lord chose them because he loved them. Why did he love them? Because he chose to. God’s love is not arbitrary, but neither is it dependent on the worthiness of the recipient. God loves us because he chooses to love – not because we deserve it. And we are called to love others in the same way: Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
I think this is hugely significant: truly deep relationships are built not on presenting ourselves as perfect and wanting for nothing, but rather as sinful, imperfect people who are desperately in need of a Saviour. When we let other people in to what we are truly like, that is the gateway to true friendship. Friendship is not built around a projected image of self-confidence, but rather a shared experience of our brokenness.
Find something you feel passionate about
Of course, if you meet a fellow Christian, whatever else you may or may not have in common there is one thing at least: Jesus and his kingdom. I’m always struck in church by how different people are – many of the people in church I wouldn’t naturally be friends with. We are a variety of ages, ethnic backgrounds, jobs, etc – and yet, our common ‘interest’ in Jesus is what unites us. And, in fact, should unite us – the church is called ‘the body of Christ’ for a reason. Paul talks a lot about unity in the book of Ephesians: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Where the church exists, so should unity (although it doesn’t always in a sinful world!)
I often think of Christian friendship as being about two people walking together towards Jesus – helping each other on the same road.
Put yourself out there
This is related to the first point, but I think here again is a difference in the Christian way of doing things. I would say – it’s not about promoting ourselves, rather it’s about taking an interest in others. Don’t ‘put yourself out there’ as a great friend to find. Take an interest in others – talk to them, get to know them, help them. Be a great friend. I remember reading a quote once which is apt: “I went out to find a friend, and not one could be found. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” The second greatest commandment, as Jesus told us, is to “love your neighbour as yourself.” This involves talking to people, taking an interest, being a friend to them.
Meet in a neutral place
I remember learning about the importance of ‘third places’ – that is, places which are not home (first place) or work (second place). Church, of course, can be a good ‘third (neutral) place’ – most churches these days meet in a dedicated building (or community centre, school etc) – not in a private home. Relationships can easily develop in a church environment without the pressure of being in a one-to-one situation too quickly.
It’s important to find out about the other person – we already covered this under ‘put yourself out there’.
Don’t expect too much
Recently at church we did the Life Explored course. The main message of Life Explored is that only God can satisfy our deepest longings. If we are banking on anything human (or anything created by humans) to give us happiness – ultimately it will not satisfy. This includes friendships. Idolatry – worshipping something other than God – is real and it is destructive. The first most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – if we do not love him, we will be loving other things. If we do not love and worship God first and foremost, we will be disappointed by whatever we do love and worship.
Idolatry happens when good things become ‘god’ things – when the good things we have as gifts from God replace him. Christians are warned about these things in the Bible. However, we know that a gift can best be appreciated when it is received with joy from the giver – we don’t think of the gift as greater than the giver, but we can appreciate it for what it is. Friendship is like this: when understood as a wonderful gift from God, we can truly enjoy it for everything it has to offer.
I hope that this has been helpful in thinking about Christian friendship – do please explore the rest of the site for more!
A couple of years ago, God led me to this passage in quite an amazing way – he focussed my attention on it in a way I’d never expected. I was reading through 1 Samuel in my daily devotional time, and I’d been getting more and more frustrated with the commentary I was using – I just found I wasn’t benefiting from it at all! One day it got to the point where I had a spare few minutes and I just decided to read that morning’s passage from the Bible, to see if I could do any better than the commentary. The passage I read then was 1 Samuel 25 – the story of David, Abigail and Nabal.
The story begins:
A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings – he was a Calebite.
So, we have Nabal, a wealthy man but “surly and mean” – not good husband material! And we have Abigail who is “intelligent and beautiful”. I won’t go through the whole story (although it’s worth reading), but briefly: David’s men come to Nabal and ask to stay there. (David and his men had previously been good to Nabal). Nabal is true to character and says no to these men. They go back and say to David what he has said – and David orders them to get ready for battle, intending to kill Nabal and his men.
Abigail – again, true to her character – goes directly to David, apologises on behalf of Nabal and intercedes for him. David listens to Abigail and relents. The story ends with Nabal dying and David marrying Abigail.
What do we make of this rather strange episode? What I found interesting about this at the time – and still do today – is how it relates to our situation today.
I’ve written elsewhere about the problem we face as a society – that relationships between men and women are breaking down. Now obviously this affects both men and women. However, I think women suffer from this trend disproportionately. Consider the following:
If a relationship breaks down, who is almost always left with any children? The mother (according to this page, 90% of single parents are mothers).
Mark Regnerus’ book Cheap Sex (link in the resources section) highlights the fact that many women would actually prefer to be married, but find it hard to ask due to the way things are at the moment. Cohabiting is actually bad for women (even The Guardian sees this! as well as more conservative publications) – cohabiting favours the partner who is least committed, which tends to be the man.
As we saw in the #MeToo movement – sexual harassment and abuse are now commonplace – and this is almost entirely in the male -> female direction.
This is the society we live in, and women in particular are suffering.
That’s why I think this passage is good news. Abigail, the woman who is “beautiful and intelligent”, lives with Nabal – an oppressive husband, “surly and mean”. How things have changed in 3,000 years! But here’s the thing: does God care about her? Yes, he does. In fact, she comes to David – God’s anointed King – and he takes her for his own bride.
If you read your Bible carefully, you will know that Jesus is the King who comes “from the line of David” – this is made clear in several places, not least the genealogies in the gospels (e.g. Luke 3:31 includes David as an ancestor of Jesus). Jesus is the King, the Messiah, the chosen one – who is greater than David.
I think what we have in this story is a microcosm of what God is doing now: God listens and he cares about the plight of these women. He has listened, and will send his anointed king to take them for his own – to be part of the bride of Christ, the church. This story shows that God cares about women suffering – but this story also shows the solution: Jesus Christ. In Christ we have a solution to the problems highlighted by #MeToo – a solution which will affect both men and women.
That’s what this website is about: there are problems, deep problems, in our society – but Jesus Christ is the answer. Look to him.
I just watched a great talk by Ligon Duncan on loving our neighbour – it’s well worth watching the whole thing if you’ve got a spare hour. He touches on a lot of the things which we are concerned with here on Friend Zone.
As I was watching, the question struck me: if you have a neighbour (of the opposite sex) who needs your help, what’s the right solution? To love them. It’s not right to use the law to justify ourselves, to ‘find a loophole’, to get out of our obligation to do the right thing.
The great news is that Christ came that we might be redeemed and have the power to live those lives of love which sin has marred.