I recently listened to an excellent sermon by Mark Driscoll called Friends with Benefits. Now of course, the first thing that would come to mind is the typical definition of that, a friend who remains merely a friend but with whom you share some of the “benefits” of a dating relationship or marriage.
However, he took this idea to a whole new level. His basic premise is that good marriages work when they are two best friends . . . with benefits for life. I couldn’t have said it better! He went on to say that while he and his wife were preparing for their marriage book/ seminar series they read almost 200 books on Christian relationships, dating, and marriage. Not even one book had a chapter on the importance of friendship.
See we get so caught up thinking about the different roles that people play in a marriage, theological definitions of marriage, purity, and all these things that we love to talk about. But in reality one of the single most important things for making a successful marriage is simply friendship.
Driscoll talks about the proverbial idea that to have friends one has to be friendly. This is key in finding someone to be more than friends with. An unfriendly person (no matter how godly, sexy, eligible he/she is) will ultimately not make a good mate.
I agree with Driscoll. I think that sadly friendship is a lost idea in most long term relationships (even outside of Christianity). I see so many spouses who are working to raise the kids, pay the bills, get the retirement fund, not get divorced, satisfy their physical needs, but they just don’t seem like friends. In fact, although I’m not sexually inclined this way, I think I’d rather my friendships with guys than their marriages because . . . well we’re simply better friends!
This is sad and possibly a big cause for divorce. People rush into marriage for a number of reasons without ever really developing a friendship. Then the stress of living with someone and making a marriage with them gets in the way of developing that friendship.
So why do people rush into marriage without developing friendship?
One reason I see is hormones. Two Christians have heard the teaching and read the words and decided to wait for marriage for sex. However, even if you get married at the dangerously young age of 21 or so, you’ve got some serious natural hormones raging. Unfortunately these hormones tend to push people to rush into marriage with people they might not otherwise be friends with. The hormonal desires overcome their reasoning and viola: we have a marriage.
I’ve watched it happen. Guys dating girls that they would never be close friends with should they have known a guy like her, and then marrying them because of that hormone driven desire to be intimate? And sadly I don’t think many of them know this is happening.
Now don’t get me wrong, I want a woman who is a bit different than my guy friends. After all I have guy friends already, and I live with them. So to say that a marriage should be like you and your best guy friend getting married plus sex is not accurate.
But still. Ultimately the love and romance of a relationship is a fractional part of the deal. Friendship is what gets you through those love sleepless nights with kids, those funny memories in foreign lands, those moves to new cities where you don’t know anyone, and those times when you can’t quite make ends meet.
There is a proverb that says “Better a close friend than a far off brother.” See friendship is often closer than family. But combine the two and you have a solid lifelong relationship map.
Author: Jesse Leake
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