I’ve had this idea of “friendship” rolling around in my head for a few months now. Questions continually pop into my head (and I try hard to remember to scribble them down so I can write about them later). As we interact with people, when do they become friends? Can friends replace family? What makes a good friend? Why do some people have great, close friendships and others do not?
At the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College this year, my ideas on friendship were pushed and stretched and molded some more.
Interestingly, I was invited/encouraged/pushed to attend the festival by a great friend I had met online almost three years ago. She would be in town for the festival. I was looking forward to spending some quality time with her. It would be a time to reconnect about our personal lives, and to continue our connection through our writing.
What I didn’t know was the impact one of the speakers would have regarding my ruminations on the topic of friendship.
Author and Biblical Studies Professor, Wesley Hill, is writing and speaking extensively on the role of friendship in the church today. He specifically dives into the importance of friendship for the gay community in the church.
Listening to him speak, as a gay, celibate, Christian, actively involved in his church, made me begin thinking more about the idea of friendship and how deep the relationship of friends can be. He also helped me think more seriously about the role of my friends of both sexes.
Who are my closest, deepest, most important friends? Are they men or women?
Is it okay for me, a married, heterosexual, man, to have close friendships with women? Or, do I need to only have those close, kinship type, friendships with men?
Wesley Hill asks fellow Christians to care about friendship again. He has to. His decision to remain celibate forces him to examine and determine what is best for a relationship.
I, as a married man, need to do the same.
Yes, I have a spouse. But does that in itself limit the close relationship I’m allowed to have with my female friends?
The more I’ve read on the subject, the more I’ve discussed the subject with a variety of people, the more questions I create. And I haven’t found enough answers, at least ones to satisfy my own questions.
I’m intent on spending more time researching the role of friendship in my life. Specifically in my life as a married Christian man.
I’ll be looking more closely at the bonds of friendship between men like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams (The Inklings). Is their particular level of kinship even possible in our culture today?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the topic of friendship. Please join the conversation in the comments and on social media.
I look forward to writing and sharing more on this topic. It is important to me. It should be important to all of us.