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Bottom line: I believe it is difficult and rare — as a practical matter — to honor these principles in the context of a close, intimate friendship between two single Christians of the opposite sex.(For the verbally precise among you, I think such friendships between non-single Christians are also a bad idea, but that's not what we're talking about here.) Intimate friendships between men and women almost always produce confusion and frustration for at least one of the parties involved.Unlike most other people of our age and experience, we are (insert favorite answer here) a) really astute students of our own and each other's hearts, b) -clear and talented communicators, c) always honest with each other, even when such honesty entails huge vulnerability for whoever is speaking, d) all of the above." Maybe.But here I would pose the question that is relevant to so many aspects of the courtship and dating topic.Basically, the question seems to be how exactly single Christians should relate to members of the opposite sex in that large and awkward zone between "we've never met" and a deliberate dating or courting relationship. I won't repeat the full history lesson here, as several Boundless authors have already discussed it (Joshua Rogers most recently, in his excellent piece "Your Friendgirl Deserves Better").Essentially, the historical reality is that until 30 or 40 years ago, long, intimate friendships between men and women in which each served as the other's emotional confidante, relationship adviser and "best buddy" were far less common than they are today.First Thessalonians 4:1-8 admonishes us not to wrong or "defraud" our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.As I've discussed before, a broad (but sound) implication of this passage is that "defrauding" could include inappropriate emotional — as well as physical — intimacy.

In fact, the failure of many Christian men to pursue marriage well into their 20s and 30s may be one of the most disturbing results of this trend, but that's another topic for another day.Yes, I know, the other person is an adult who is free and responsible to walk away if he or she is so unsatisfied, but like it or not, it tends not to work that way. Especially if it's the woman in this position (as seems to be the case more often than not) she will likely feel that if she pushes for something more than friendship, she may lose the interaction and companionship she currently has.Still, given her desire for a husband — and perhaps to have man as her husband — the status quo of "just really good friends but nothing more for some odd reason" will leave her unsatisfied, frustrated and confused.Before continuing with this article, please review the preamble included at the beginning of part 1 of this series, "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." * * * PART 2: Men Initiate, Women Respond » One of the big questions hovering around the topic of courtship and dating is the role of friendship.How intimate of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is OK? Won't the friendship be ruined if one of us expresses romantic interest and the other doesn't respond favorably?