Author: Phill (page 2 of 3)

Friendship and the Body

It was the end of a long, hot day. We’d had a busy day getting up to all sorts of fun and now it was late in the evening, and we were sitting round a camp fire. I was 20 years old, and sat next to my friend Naomi. While we were sitting there, she just took my hand and held it for a while. Somehow we both knew it wasn’t a romantic thing – it was just friendship. We just sat there holding hands for a while, watching the fire and listening to others chatting around us. All that happened about 15 years ago – it was on a Christian Union summer house party (don’t ask). But the event is notable because it was the first and only time that such a thing has ever happened to me.

Why do I mention this? In my last post I mentioned an article about the body I’d been reading. It’s got me thinking again about how much of the Christian world at the moment – in the West, at least – seems to be fairly gnostic: that is, the body is often seen as a bad thing. No-one actually comes out and says this, of course! – but sometimes our theology is revealed more by what we do than by what we say.

Bodies are sexualised – I can’t speak for women, but for me as a man you don’t have to look very far to see women’s bodies being sexualised on TV, media, etc. It’s mainstream now – and it has been for a long time. ‘Sex sells’. so they say.  Christians are rightly upset by seeing sex used in this way – but I think the reaction is seeing bodies as sources of temptation to be avoided rather than something good which God has made.

So, for example: for me, as a man, rather than seeing a woman’s body as a beautiful thing which God has made, I see it as a source of temptation and try to avoid them as much as possible. I think this is a large part of what contributes to avoiding cross-sex friendship.

But is it right to think like that?

‘In the beginning…’

I’m always struck by Genesis 2:25: “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” ‘Body-shaming’ is a horrible modern term, but there was none of it before the fall. Adam and Eve were comfortable in their own skin, comfortable with their bodies. God made their bodies, and made them good – every part of them. Shame didn’t come until after the fall – in 3:7, once they have eaten the fruit, the first result we are told about is realising their nakedness and feeling shame.

I often wonder – although we live in a fallen world still, Jesus came to inaugurate the new creation – to reverse the curse of the fall and free men and women from slavery to sin. Should Christians therefore be more or less ashamed of bodies? I think Christians should be people who are known for rejoicing in all aspects of God’s good creation – human beings and bodies included. God made our bodies, he made them good, God made beauty, we should rejoice in it!

This also means Christians should be more eager to use their bodies, more eager to touch – e.g. give someone a hug, etc. We are supposed to love one another – and, as embodied creatures, we don’t just love someone with words – we love them in an appropriate physical way as well.

But – am I being over-optimistic here? We do live in a fallen world, after all: does the reality of sin mean we should hold back? I don’t think so.

Using our bodies

One of the things which I never noticed before until recently was how the New Testament talks about bodies. Here, for example, are Paul’s words in Romans 6:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (v12-13)

We should offer ‘every part of ourselves’ to God – body, mind, and soul – as an instrument of righteousness. This is more than our bodies, of course, but not less! What we do with our bodies matters.

Paul, again, writes in 1 Corinthians 6:

The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?

Here Paul warns against sexual immorality – because how we use our bodies really matters. Our bodies are “members of Christ himself” – what a high view of the body!

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So the Christian life is a bodily life – not simply a ‘super-spiritual’ life.

Lastly, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6:

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.

Controlling our own bodies – this is sanctification.  Again, not a ‘super-spiritual’ thing but an earthy, bodily sanctification. I hope that we as a church should expect the Spirit to be sanctifying us in every way – not to expect sinless perfection in this lifetime but to have realistic yet positive expectations for change and growth.

Bodily Purity

This is what I come back to time and again as I go to the Scriptures: we are exhorted many times against sexual immorality – but the point is not simply to avoid sexual immorality but to do what is right. We should be people who use our bodies in the right way, rather than simply in the wrong way.

I’m not a person who does physical contact very easily. I’m not really a hugger – generally, when people are giving out hugs and kisses at the end of my home group, they avoid me. Clearly they’ve understood my body language! But is that right? Is it right for me to avoid physical contact?

It seems to me, from the Scriptures, that to be pure is not simply avoiding wrong physical contact but doing right physical contact in its place. Similarly with bodies – not simply avoiding thinking about bodies in a sexual way but positively thinking about them in the right way.

We live in difficult times in the church, and I am increasingly convinced that we need to show the world a better way – A Better Story. How we see bodies and how we use our bodies really matters in this sexualised age when so much has gone wrong with the way our society sees and uses bodies. Let’s pray and trust that God can renew us by his Spirit, even at such a time as this.

Crossway – new article on friendship

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on Friendship for the Church Society’s Crossway magazine. It can be found in the Summer 2018 edition of the magazine.  Here’s how it opens:

‘Men and women can’t be friends – the sex part always gets in the way.’ (When Harry Met Sally, 1989)

It’s thirty years since Billy Crystal told Meg Ryan they couldn’t be friends and during that time, Western society’s obsession with sex has only grown. We are witnessing more and more of its ugly fruit in the breakdown of relationships between men and women.

The #MeToo movement has recently opened the floodgates for women to speak up about sexual harassment and abuse that they’ve experienced. But #MeToo is simply the tip of the iceberg. Mark Regnerus’ 2017 book Cheap Sex offers a terrifying account of the extent of the problem, and its effect on the younger generation.

I’m afraid you’ll have to buy the magazine to read the rest – but it’s worth it for some other good articles by Emma Scrivener, James Cary, and Ros Clarke. In particular I enjoyed reading what Ros had to say about the body in Christian theology – something I’ve been thinking about with respect to Friend Zone. But probably the subject of another blog!

One thing I would have mentioned in the article if it had been published at the time was Aimee Byrd’s new book, which I mentioned yesterday (keep your eyes out for a review here in the next week or two).

New book “Why can’t we be friends?”

One sign that God is at work is when several people come up with the same idea at the same time. If God is working in various different people, provoking in them the same kind of answers, it may well be a work of the Spirit. I think this is the case with friendship: a number of people have written about it now, and I hope that many people are more switched on to the idea.

Case in point: I just saw this morning that Aimee Byrd has written a new book about friendship between men and women, “Why can’t we be friends?” Which is subtitled ‘Avoidance is not purity’. You can read an extract from the book here – “we don’t view each other holistically.”

Friendship between men and women is a taboo topic in the evangelical subculture. It makes us uncomfortable. Apparently, we are all time bombs on the brink of having an affair—or of being accused of having one. Because of this, men and women often feel uncomfortable around each other, even in innocent contexts, and we impose strict hedges on behavior in order to avoid the threat of sexual impropriety.

Most of us instinctively know what constitutes sexual impropriety in conversation and action—but, due to influence from our overly sexualized culture, we tend to scandalize ordinary acts of kindness and business. It becomes suspect to give someone a ride, share a meal with a coworker in a public place, or text the other sex without copying our spouses or another third party. Prohibitions of these acts are couched in language of protecting our purity, honoring our spouses, or wisely avoiding the threat of temptation. Challenge any of these suggestions, however, and the language of danger is invoked. If these ordinary acts are dangerous, it must be downright foolish to use a meaningful term like friendship to describe a relationship between the sexes.

Read more…

Needless to say, this book has gone straight on the reading list and I will aim to review it properly in due course. From what I’ve seen so far, it seems that Aimee Byrd has written a book which resonates very much with everything that Friend Zone is about. I hope that many people will read it and come to discover what friendship is all about.

Is feminism bad for friendship?

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.

The Revoice controversy – can desire be sanctified?

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.

Experiencing intimacy without sex

Sam Allberry talking about intimacy without sex is well worth watching and chimes with much of what we’re about here on Friend Zone:

‘Micro-cheating’ – is that a thing now?

I stumbled across an article this morning on the BBC called “When does micro-cheating become ‘actual’ cheating?” I had never heard about micro-cheating before, although it sounds a little similar to what was previously called an “emotional affair”:

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.

The perils of friendship?

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.

Relationship issues

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.

Thoughts on Beth Moore’s “Letter to my brothers”

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.

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