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?
First Thessalonians 4:1-8 admonishes us not to wrong or "defraud" our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.
As I've discussed before, a broad (but sound) implication of this passage is that "defrauding" could include inappropriate emotional — as well as physical — intimacy.
Yet even with all this deep communication going on, at least one aspect of these friendships inherently involves a mixed message.
No matter how clearly one or both of you have defined what's happening as "just friends," your are constantly saying, "I enjoy being with you and interacting with you in a way that suggests marriage (or at least romantic attraction)." The simple reality (of which most people are aware, whether they admit it or not) is that in the vast majority of these types of relationships, one of the parties involved either began the "friendship" with romantic feelings for the other person or develops them along the way.
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").
By offering a taste of the companionship and interactions that make marriage so satisfying, with none of the accompanying commitments or responsibilities entailed in marriage, intimate friendships discourage the pursuit of the grown-up, God-intended outlet for marital desires — marriage.
Would want to date someone knowing that he or she had a significant, pre-existing and ongoing emotional bond with another single member of the opposite sex?
If I were a single person desiring marriage, the answers to these questions would matter to me.
Why risk harm to your own heart or to that of a brother or sister to have a type of companionship that, outside of marriage, is arguably questionable anyway?
This brings me to my second argument against intimate one-on-one friendships between brothers and sisters in Christ. Men and women who are not called to long-term singleness and celibacy have a strong desire for companionship with a member of the opposite sex. As I've discussed before, Scripture seems to consider marriage (and children) to be a normal part of the progression toward biblical manhood and womanhood (see, among others, Genesis -28; -24; Matthew -41; Luke -36).