Question:

I hope that you still use this email address for I have just read something on your web site that appears to be contrary to what I have learned from experience. In your article on lust, you state:

"Love is built on a relationship between a man and a woman that develops over time. There will come a time when you will become acquainted with a woman. Soon you are the best of friends and before you know it, you can't imagine living the rest of your life without her. This is the foundation for true love. The idea that you can fall in love at first sight is completely false. You may meet someone that immediately fills you with desire, but the desire is not love. Because of the desire, you may get acquainted and eventually build up a love for each other, but love comes later, not at your first meeting." [What Is Lust?]

This sounds exactly as I perceive love as well. However, it appears that developing a best-friend relationship with a woman over a long period of time leads to "friend-zoning," where the female declares that she could not imagine you as anything other than a friend. Even worse than the friend-zone is the brother-zone where she is so close to you that she sees you as a brother. From a Christian perspective, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ so this should be good, right? However, I believe that the problem is similar to how I could never date my sister (my mother's daughter.)

To make matters even worse, worldly articles recommend making sexual advances on women very early in the friendship to avoid being pegged into the friend zone. This is completely contrary to the recommendations of your article and to everything that I have learned from my life as a Christian. How then can I reconcile this mixed advice? Is it because the world's advice is designed to commit fornication rather than a loving, committed relationship? If so, then what does it mean from a Christian perspective if I have come to grow so very fond of a woman that I could not imagine living my life without her and she declares that she loves me as a brother but could not imagine me as a partner?

I have prayed many a night for wisdom regarding this situation and have not perceived an answer. At best, I have decided to strengthen myself as a Christian and fight back any lustful desires for her (which led me to your article.)

Can you provide any insight on how to reconcile this conflict?


Answer:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

While reading your note, I was thinking of something the heroine of the Song of Solomon told her husband, "Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother's breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised" (Song of Solomon 8:1). In their day, outward displays of affection were frowned upon, even between married couples. Yet, siblings could show affection for each other without shame. In that same book one of the strongest terms of endearment comes after Solomon and she are married. "You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace" (Song of Solomon 4:9). Siblings were close and to say that someone was as close to his heart as his sister was a compliment.

Yes, today's world has lost the perspective of what marriage is really about. Is any wonder that every institution of marriage is being corrupted today? People today want to marry but somehow keep their distance. That is why you see an emphasis on physical joining (sex) without the joining of the people as life partners through marriage. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). This statement isn't limited to just a physical union. The two people become a single unit -- a family. In speaking of one's wife, God said, "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). It is the adulteress woman "who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God" (Proverbs 2:17).

A woman who doesn't want to marry her closest friend doesn't understand what marriage is about. She is trying to maintain an unhealthy distance that could cause problems later on. It is interesting that older women are to teach or "that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children" (Titus 2:4). The word for "love" here is philandros, a compound word meaning love of a husband. The first half, phileo is the affection between friends and family members. A marriage relationship has its roots in the deep affection of friendship.

I find most interesting that at the moment Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher hold the world's record for the longest marriage -- 86 years and still going. They were asked, "How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?" Their reply was, "We grew up together & were best friends before we married. A friend is for life - our marriage has lasted a lifetime." ["Longest Married," Twitter.com].

It is because the world denies this that it allows people to leave their spouse when the erotic attraction dies down. There are no other ties of friendship or devotion that holds them together, so they walk out. Some build the proper ties after marriage, but it should have been forming from well before marriage.

Sometimes a girl says, "you're like a brother to me" to mean "I know too many of your flaws, and they have taken away my desire to marry you, though I still like you overall." But there lies another problem. Many girls look for a perfect man to be their husband. What they don't know can be filled in with imagination, but reality can't be denied. Too many girls want their imaginations instead of an actual person. These are the types of women who have a really hard time adjusting to marriage because eventually reality sinks in and they must face the fact that their husbands aren't as perfect as they imagined. Again, some overcome and a proper relationship forms, but why start with rough waters when you can have smooth sailing?

Passion has its place, but it is not the first or primary aspect of a relationship as the world wishes to pretend.

Thank you for insight. I am heartened to hear that my philosophy regarding love agrees with the Bible. However, knowing that my views are correct is a small comfort for my current predicament with this woman. Shall I simply continue to show my love for her in the Christian fashion and respect her decision to reject our relationship? I pray each night that she might see me in the same way that I see her, but I wish that there were more I could do. I suppose that I could go the way of the fatalists and just resign myself to the thought that if it was meant to be, then she will eventually love me as I love her. However, I do not believe that God wishes us to live such passive lives. I will look through the Song of Solomon to see if I can find any insight there, but I fear that such sentiments have been lost on today's society.

It is difficult when one person loves another, but it isn't returned in the same fashion. Yet, for a marriage to work both the man and the woman must love each other. Perhaps she'll change her mind, but I would not suggest counting on it. I would suggest that you keep looking but also stay in touch in case she changes her mind.