Christian Blog Says Close Friendships Are Bad

brunette, fashion, friendsI’m still Facebook friends with a lot of my former homeschooling friends and acquaintances. Sometimes they share articles and posts that I have a hard time not saying something about, so I write about them here instead.

Someone I knew from a homeschooling organization shared this post in all seriousness with a comment that went something like, “Yes! This is me! This is extremely important.”

In short, the post she shared argues that friendships that get too close can be a problem. I think what the author is trying to say is that God should be number 1 in a person’s life, and friendships can become such a big part of one’s life that a person can rely on the friendship in times when he or she should turn to God.  But the way she goes about saying it sounds a little different. At the beginning of the post, she gives examples of friendships in which women are so close to each other that they can’t imagine making decisions in life that would put that friendship at risk or make it more difficult for them to spend time together.

I understand how that could potentially hold someone back from making big life decisions. But none of the friendships she gave in her examples sounded toxic to me. They sounded like close, sisterly bonds. Like women offering each other their unwavering support and companionship as partners for life in a purely platonic way. The way this post nonchalantly devalues human relationships is something I haven’t even thought about much in relation to religion, but I suppose when your goal is to be in this supposedly incredible relationship with your creator, if you compare that relationship to human friendships, you’ll end up devaluing those human friendships in the process.

I do understand where this is coming from, at least to a point. God is supposed to be number 1 in a Christian’s life. Anything that distracts one’s focus from God is considered an idol or false deity. As a kid, I was told these were things like television and video games.  I always thought for adults a major false idol was often money. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christian make this point about friendship before.

This post literally discourages people–especially women, if you read between the lines–from having best friends. I sincerely hope that most women who read this don’t take it to heart.

According to the post, there’s a reason these too-close friendships are forming these days: it’s because LGBT people exist, and are being acknowledged by the community at large.

The disintegration of the family and blurred lines of gender and sexuality have left our society with less and less stability. What can you rely on if your sexual preferences continually change and marriage and family relationships become increasingly unreliable? Under these conditions, friendship becomes crucial. In fact, the world’s model BFF is, by all accounts, a functional savior — someone who rescues you from the instability and trials of life, someone with whom and to whom you belong, who is committed to you “forever.”

So um–because LGBT people are gaining awareness and rights, straight people suddenly started becoming best friends? I highly doubt that the prevalence of close friendship is a development of the last 50 or so years.

After that gem about how LGBT people somehow fit into this, the post seemed to discuss these close “friendships” in ways that don’t exactly sound platonic. For example, in the list it includes of 15 ways to know if your friendship has gone too far, 5 of them sound like they’re describing something a bit more serious than even best friendship:

  • Do you experience jealousy when your friend spends time with others? Do you feel a sense of possessiveness toward her?

 

  • Do you prefer to spend time alone with your friend, and are you easily frustrated when others join in?

 

  • Do you have frequent sleepovers, often preferring to share the same bed?

 

  • Do you operate like a couple? Do others see you as inseparable?

 

  • Are you more physically affectionate toward this friend than other friends? Are you physically affectionate in a way that makes others uncomfortable?

Not gonna draw any conclusions about the author from these, but seriously, this is uncomfortably homoerotic for a clearly homophobic blogger.

The conclusion of the post killed me, though. This is some sad stuff. She writes:

A Christian friend understands that, ultimately, she has nothing irreplaceable to offer you and that you have nothing irreplaceable to offer her. Instead, you can link arms together with the goal of pushing each other toward the wellspring of Christ.

Can you imagine how you’d feel if your closest friend said something like this to you? Rather than say that human relationships are good, but a Christian’s relationship with God is greater–a point most Christians would agree with, and that up until now I would never expect anyone to take to this extreme–this post says that human relationships are replaceable. I guess grieving people can rest easy now. Their loved one can be replaced like a dead goldfish.

Have you encountered anything like this before? I’m curious, and a bit concerned that these ideas might be popular among some groups.

Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy

 

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9 thoughts on “Christian Blog Says Close Friendships Are Bad

  1. Fascinating post. The idea that friendship is something to be wary of as it might get in the way of your ‘primary’ relationship with God, is part of the training of nuns and priests. As I’m sure you know, nuns had to go round in groups of three. This wasn’t to prevent (gasp!) them falling in love with each other if they were allowed to pair up, but to prevent simple friendships. So it must have been desperately lonely. No wonder so many nuns just cut that part of themselves off and were unable to show empathy towards other people. It’s difficult – but we can live without sex. But nobody can live without love. Not being allowed friendships is a kind of emotional solitary confinement. And we KNOW that solitary confinement drives people mad.

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    • I actually did not know that. To my knowledge different orders have different rules but regardless, if that was /is the case that’s horrible! Excellent point about solitary confinement. I imagine the nuns would be able to make small talk at least but still, that’s not the same. Not fulfilling whatsoever.

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      • I’m not making excuses for the terrible behaviour of nuns (see the Tuam homes for ‘unmarried mothers’) but their very training made them forgo – or rather cut off – their social and empathy gene. Because all that love has to go to God – their jealous, controlling and frankly psychotic lover.

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  2. Considering how many of the ways religion can be harmful are clear-cut cases of people putting it above other people, it’s hardly surprising to see someone bold enough to say outright that you “should” do that.

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  3. Yep, this idea was par for the course in my catholic life. Friendships could be used by satan to weaken your tie to Christ, to pull you away. People are not perfect like god, and they will eventually taint you with their impurity. Cut yourself off from people and you can be even more devoted to god. Hence nuns and monks.

    Now I never heard it tied to friendships that had a “potential for going too far”, which IMHO is indeed deeply homophobic. But then why not knock out two birds with one stone? Just focus on god and deny yourself everything in the process, including friends and lovers. Because, you know, religion alone could never fuck you up. Right? 😉

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    • This is most definitely NOT a teaching of the Catholic Church. I’d be interested to lknowcwho taught you this principle, Violet. I’ve never heard anyone say it before reading about it here.

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  4. I’m blown away you don’t think this is a teaching of the catholic church. I went to a 5000 member urban catholic church and we were constantly told to put god above all things. Specifically, we were to put god above our family, our friends, and ourselves…and if things with humans got too close, that meant we were losing closeness with god. I mean this is one of the major reasons catholics have monks and nuns…you separate yourselves out from the world so you can be closer to god.

    The thing about religion: there’s really no one way to teach it. Religious people everywhere have told me I was somehow taught the “wrong” beliefs, despite my being a devout catholic for 41 years…they tell me this is the reason I ultimately “failed” as a christian. That’s a cop-out. Individual priests have power over what they do and don’t teach, as do lay people. So kids end up with a mish-mash of beliefs and everyone can call everyone else “wrong.” You know what? It’s ALL wrong. 🙂

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