Friendship and Marriage

Posted on February 7, 2014 · Posted in Marriage

What Adam needed in the garden was not just a sexual partner but a companion, bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh.,,

We think of a prospective spouse as primarily a lover (or a provider), and if he or she can be a friend on top of that, well isn’t that nice! We should be going at it the other way round. Screen first for friendship. Look for someone who understands you better than you do yourself, who makes you a better person just by being around them. And then explore whether that friendship could become a romance and a marriage. Tim Keller, Meaning of Marriage, 125-126.

This is why it is so very important to teach your children how to be value good friends. I would not recommend instructing your eight-year-old in the ways of romance. That could get rather dicey. But you can teach them at any age about friendship. The world wants people, including Christians, to see romance as the foundation of marriage. Christians must become transformed in their thinking, so that they see friendship is the foundation. Romance is volatile by nature. The fact that romance tends to run hot then cold, and then hot again, is one of the worldly attractions of romance. This may be a great attraction for movies and the social elite scene, but for marriage, not so much! Friendship that flows from romance will be as up and down as romance and romantic feelings tend to be. This is not solid ground for marriage.

One thing that romance and marriage cannot hide is sin. The closer you become to someone, the more you become aware his or her sin.  I Peter 4 says that love covers a multitude of sins. However, romance does not have a good track record in this regard. Romance will only effectively cover sin for a short time. Then the flames of romance can be quickly extinguished as sin and selfishness is exposed.  Biblical, true love is not something than can be overcome by sin or by romantic mood swings. Biblical love is true commitment regardless of the shortcomings of those whom we love.

Please, please let me be clear—I am not anti-romance. Far from it! However, the issue of romance and friendship is one of order. If friendship comes first, then romance can be built on a solid, lasting foundation. With this perspective, romance can become stable and grow in warmth and excitement. This is the biblical view of romance. If romance is first and all that we have, then we have a house built on shifting sands. Great will be its fall.

Romance that flows from friendship will have a sure foundation. This may not make for exciting headlines, but it will make for love that can withstand the storms of life and our sin.

This, then, provides yet another reason why we should teach our children about the value biblical friendship and then lead them in that way.

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.