Should Christian singles have friends from the opposite sex? In my opinion, yes!
Of course there are some complications to man and woman friendships, which I discuss in my article, “Can Guys and Girls Really Be Just Friends?”
In this article, however, I am going to focusing on 4 advantages you can have if you are a Christian single person with friends from the opposite sex.
1. Men and Women Are Needed to Form the Body of Christ, So It Is Important to Be as Inclusive as Possible with Your Friendships
One of the problems with gender-based ministries or age-based ministries is that they segment the body of Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is important for a church to have ministries specifically for men and women sometimes as Titus 2:4 alludes to. However, we have to be careful we are not mistaking these sub-ministries as the church itself.
The church, the body of Christ, is compromised of men, women, children, of all ages, and of all races. If any church keeps people away because of gender, age, or race, they are being completely unbiblical. The reason I am bringing this up is because if you really want to be connected to the church, you will need to have healthy relationships with all different types of people and not just people from your own gender.
2. Having Friends from the Opposite Sex Teaches You About Men and Women in a Safe Way
When we are children, our experiences are limited to the families and environments we are born into. Even when you have a great family who has taught you wonderful things about both women and men, this is still a limited perspective.
When you have healthy friendships from the opposite sex, however, you can learn about men and women in a safe place. If you are a Christian single person with healthy friendships with both men and women, you will gain valuable insight about other people that you cannot learn by yourself or from reading books. Our friends truly help us develop as people, for as Proverbs 27:17 says in the NLT, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
3. Having Friends from the Opposite Sex Teaches You How to Have Good Boundaries and How to Guard Your Heart
I love the advice Paul gives to his protégé in 1 Timothy 5:1-2, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
Paul didn’t tell Timothy that the only way to avoid temptation is to avoid all women. However, Paul was also not being naïve and thus he did not tell Timothy that there is no differences between how he should treat men and women. Notice at the end of the instructions after he told him to treat the younger women like sisters, he added “in all purity.”
Clearly Paul is recognizing the extra level of care Timothy should make when he is interacting with Christian women his age. Romance and attraction are natural, good, and made by God, but when we are not careful they can be used by our sinful nature to lead us into sin.
So one benefit to having friends from the opposite sex is that God will use these relationships to mature and train you. He will teach you how to have healthy boundaries and how to guard your heart. If you just avoid people of the opposite sex because you are unsure of how to navigate the confusion that often occurs when single men and women get together, you will stunt your growth. But if you learn to develop alongside of your friends from the opposite sex, you will help each other develop healthy boundaries that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Sure, things will get messy sometimes, signals will get crossed, and people might get their feelings hurt sometimes. But two mature Christian friends should be able to serve each other even when their relationship will never progress into anything more than just friendship.
4. Having Friends from the Opposite Sex Gives You a Great Opportunity to Meet Your Future Spouse
While there is immense value in having friends from the opposite sex as a single person even if these relationships never develop into anything other than a good friendship, one big benefit to having friends from the opposite sex will be that you are drastically increasing the likelihood of meeting your future spouse.
I certainly don’t think you need to be friends before going on a date with someone, but in my personal opinion I do believe it is the best option for most people. I know lots of people who have met their spouse through online dating or meeting each other and instantly going on a date. But I know more people who developed a friendship with their spouse first before dating. Both paths to dating are fine and neither is sinful, but for many people it is much easier and less stressful to start with friendship.
Not only does friendship set a healthy foundation for romance, having friends of the opposite sex will also increase your opportunity to meet more Christian singles from the opposite sex. The more friends you have, the more new people you will meet. And the more people you meet, the more the odds are in your favor that you will meet someone you develop a connection with which might lead to dating and possibly marriage in the future.