Sunday, February 21, 2010

Relationships: Friend {Part One}

Relationship here for the overview.


"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17

We have covered what it is to love you enemy and to love your neighbor. Now we come to the largest group of people. Your friends. Who are your friends? Friends are people that you have personally been affected by and now have affection for. Now we saw in the last post that God can give affection for a certain group of neighbors. What is different with a friend is that the affection is reciprocated to the point that a friendship is formed. You continue to interact with this person. It isn't just a one time thing.

So with friends we already have the feeling to love. It is not something that we have to will in obedience to God's command like with the enemy and neighbor. Now for the sake of this post I want you to just think of friends in general. I am not talking about your best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. We will get to them in the next posts. What we are discussing here are the friends that you have affection or a fondness of, not someone you are "in love" with.

Since we are still talking about love according to God's truth and principles that means our friendships need to be according to his truth and principles too. So what we first need to point out is why we are friends with the people we are friends with. What was it about them that affected us in such a way that we now have affection for them. Were we drawn to them for spiritual reasons? Or were we drawn to them for physical reasons? Or maybe it was both! We need to be honest with ourselves in these questions so that we know how to relate and how not to get hurt.

God created us very specifically to have friends and share relationship. This is one of the ways we differ from all other animals. He also created us to have a disposition to certain pleasures. We have talked in other posts that God is a God of pleasure. He created things specifically for our enjoyment. So unlike other animals we have a propensity towards certain things that are not just instincts. They are things that God hardwired into us according to our unique personality. Some people love chocolate ice cream, other would die for mint chocolate chip. Some people love music, others love art. We each have things that affect us personally.

Affection is defined as the state of being affected, a disposition to feel, a tender feeling toward another. God made us to be affected by people of the opposite sex and by people of the same sex. He wants us to have affectionate, deep and satisfying friendships with both. But what has gotten screwed up in our society is that all relationships have become sexualized. And that is not what God had in mind. Lets keep in mind what God's love looks like. Read the list again.

Now, it is not wrong as Christians to be affected by someones looks or physical body. But because our society is so over sexualized we tend to try to turn that part of our brains off. What I am sure you have found is that you can't. Why? Because God made you that way. God made you to appreciate the bodies physical features. God made people to be pleasing to look at. So the human body is not evil but it is also not to be worshipped or devoured. What we need to learn is how we are to internalize our affection towards the physical body within God's truth and principles. What are the boundaries we need to set?

Just because you have affection for something doesn't mean you can devour that thing. Say you are in an art museum and you see a painting that you just LOVE. No matter how much you like that painting it doesn't give you permission to take it home with you. When you are walking through the park and you come to a beautiful rose bush, you don't rip the rose bush up and take it home with you. Why? Because it does not belong to you. In the same way we need to harness our feelings towards the physical beauty of a person. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that someone is pleasing to look at. Someone of your same sex or the opposite sex.

After that initial acknowledgement that someone is physically beautiful you need to follow up that thought with God's loving truth and principles. Lust is never loving. Lust is a violent coveting of something that does not belong to you or should not belong to you according to God 's truth and principles. {To read more on lust specifically click here.} If that person is just a friend of yours {male or female} your thoughts on their physical body need to end at the acknowledgement. In doing so you have not sinned or contradicted the other person or God in any way. But you have no permission from that person to think on them any further.  Doing so is not loving, it is selfish gradification. 

What we need to keep in mind is that love is a command from God. Therefore it is something that we have control over. We must separate out the crap from the world that says if to are attracted or have affection for something that gives you permission to lust after it or sexualize it. That is wrong! That is not the truth of how God has called us to love. You can have affection for people and acknowledge their physical beauty without sexual thoughts being involved. If we can't do that we are saying that love rules or that love is irresistible. Which gives permission to sexualize someone of the same sex, or to sexualize a family member, or to sexualize someones spouse, or to sexualize a child. These are all perversions of what is suppose to define love. This is letting feelings and emotions go unchecked by God's truth and principles.

"Death and destruction are insatiable, so the eyes of a man are never satisfied."  Prov. 27:20

If we seek satisfaction from the physical alone we will never have fulfilling relationships.  If we love outside the truth and principles of God we are subjecting ourselves and the other person to the oppression of the enemy.  This is how the enemy has robbed so many people of satisfying friendships.  People feel an affection for someone and think that it should translate to sex.  Meanwhile the deeply affectionate and satisfying friendship has been ruined.  Sex has become the only connection and an awkward one at that. Because they stepped outside of God's truth for loving relationships they have forfeited a great friendship that probally would have lasted longer had they never had sex.  So be at ease with appreciating physical beauty in others but also make it a point to get to know the person that lives inside the physical body. Don't let emotions rule you.  Be guided in your emotions by the truth of God.  Make a point form deep, lasting non sexual relationships as opposed to shallow, short lived sexual ones.

We will continue on the subject of loving "friends" in the next post.

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