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So is the trend toward intimate friendships between single men and women a good thing? If you haven't read my previous articles on biblical dating, you'll be helped in thinking through this issue by reading "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." Based on some of the principles found there, let me offer a couple of practical reasons why I believe such friendships to be generally unwise, and then I'll suggest a positive role for friendship among singles in the Christian community.

In this series of articles, I've raised several biblical principles regarding the way we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Either way, that person is now hanging on to the "friendship" in the hope of getting something more despite the "clear words" from the other person that he or she wants nothing beyond friendship.

To the extent that one person's romantic feelings have been clearly articulated to the other (and were met with an unfavorable response) to continue in some no-man's land of "good friends," is arguably to take selfish advantage of the vulnerable party. What if one person develops romantic feelings in a friendship in which no "clear words" have been spoken, such that the desires of the other person are a mystery?

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.

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.

Ladies, might there be men who would have initiated with you but for their uncertainty about or discomfort with your intimate friendship with another man?

Guys, has a woman perhaps turned you down over questions about a woman friend you spend lots of time with?

I admit we're not talking absolutes here, but almost.

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