All of these women plus many more were valuable to God. Did some follow Jesus because they thought he might be a possible husband, maybe? But they learned of his destiny, his purpose and realized that their friendship could only just be friends. I believe that Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, desired to be married just like most singles. He desired a home, children, to live out his life like his brothers and sisters, and his earthly father before him. But his path did not lead him down that road. For some of us God is saying the same thing. Either he is saying not now or not ever.

So does this mean we can't be friends with the opposite sex because we are not going to get married? No, this means we have to have boundaries and communication. I believe Jesus had to be very clear with everyone in his life. Not only did he have to communicate his future but also his present. I believe that with Mary Magdalene and the other women who followed him, he had to be careful to not be alone, to protect his ministry and theirs. I believed he had to be careful of physical touch, hugs, kisses, etc. When he went to Mary and Martha's home, he didn't go alone but knew they were both home—again, for protection. Just like today, we have to protect our friendships. We have to guard our hearts. We have to pray about them.

Remember, when we are open to God and his direction, we are open to the relationships he brings before us. All relationships first start with God and are for God.   

You must worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you (Exodus 34:14).

When we meet someone new, we need to first pray about that friendship. What is the purpose of this friendship? Is it to just be friends, allowing the blessings to come naturally or does God want us to be an example? Does he want you to help them by connecting them with others? To church or Bible study? When we refuse to be friends with the opposite sex we are missing out on so many blessings from God. Opposite-sex friends teach us about each other, about how to communicate better and how to care. When you are friends with the opposite sex, you learn to love from the inside out versus the outside in. And yes, sometimes it can lead to romance—but even if it doesn't, you have this amazing friend. 

I love meeting new men in my life. I like to go ahead and assume they aren't the "one" so that I can enjoy the friendship. If it leads in that direction, great. But if not, I have just made another brother in Christ with whom I get to spend eternity.

Questions for Discussion or Personal Exploration:

1. Who are some of your opposite sex friends? How is your relationship with them?

2. What are the benefits of an opposite-sex friendship?

3. How can an opposite-sex friendship be a negative?

4. Do you think it's harder to be friends with the opposite sex after a divorce or death of a spouse? Why?

5. What are ways you can protect your friendships with the opposite sex?

6. Why is it hard to be friends once you have been romantic with someone?

7. Read John 15:9-17. What does Jesus think of friendship? What does this mean to you? 


Application:

Start today to pray and ask to reveal his truth to you. What is God telling you about yourself in regards to opposite-sex friends? Is there someone in your life that you need to be honest with? Is there someone you want to be friends with only but are afraid they like you romantically? Are there some opposite-sex friends that drive you nuts and you need to learn to love them in Christ?




**This article first published on September 7, 2010.