Friends of the opposite sex - a solution?


:newidea: I HAVE THE SOLUTION!!! :newidea: (to the ‘problem’ of opposite-sex friends)

Or, rather, the Church does (EO at least, and I’m sure I’ve read about it in Western medieval and Renaissance literature too, so it’s probably an old Catholic thing too).

Bear with me.

My FIL told me about an old custom that was still in existence in his very traditional, patriarchal and no-nonsense place of birth. His own father had a ‘sister-in-God’ - a very close female friend with whom he became a spiritual sibling through a Church ritual, before God, a priest and witnesses. (You could, of course, do this with a friend of the same sex as well.)

Then they were like family. The families visited each other and their children thought of each other as cousins. The idea of anything improper happening between siblings-in-God was even more shocking, disgusting and abominable than the idea of biological incest.

What do you think? Could the reinstitution of this practice solve the problem?

There would be three different possible relationship modes for people of the opposite sex - spouses, relatives (biological or spiritual) or acquaintances. No gray areas. No possibility of jealousy or a friendship leading to adultery.


Since most of my friends are of the opposite sex and there’s never been a problem, I’m not sure whether this would help or not, but I guess a lot depends on the individuals involved.


I too prefer socializing with people of the opposite sex. It’s usually not too problematic; however, a lot of people observed - rightly, I believe - that married people developing a strong, deep and close friendship with a member of the opposite sex can easily be tempted towards adultery.

Many also mentioned couples who promise before marriage not to befriend anyone of the opposite sex. I, for one, could never do that, and have at least two very close male friends. I think this would be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The problem seems to be our weird understanding of people being ‘just’ friends; or taking friendship to ‘the next level’, as if sexual intimacy is always the ultimate expression of any close bond between a man and a woman.

I have a problem with the idea that your spouse is the only person of the opposite sex you can share deep interests with. I’m not talking about a woman gossiping and complaining about her marriage to a male friend - I don’t like that sort of talk with girls either. But what if I have a deep interest in literature, history, politics, etc., that I only seem to share with a few old and close friends who happen to be men?

There is, of course, always the danger of a hint of an idea of a relationship other than friendship somewhere far in the back even in the most innocent of these relationships.

The idea of ‘siblings-in-God’ for me solves it all. If a married guy meets a girl at work he really thinks he likes as a friend, he has to think: would I stand with this woman before God, a priest, my wife and witnesses, and promise to be her brother forever, never thinking about anything I wouldn’t do with my own sister? If the answer is yes, the friendship can go towards this, and if it’s no, he has to distance himself and never cross the line of ‘acquaintances’.



I can’t say it’s a good idea because the natural kinship of siblings is not there and while there might be a marriage impediment, it’s one of the law rather than nature, meaning hard times may come. One doesn’t get attracted to a sibling, but one well might to such a person as you describe in the opening post, Paradoxy.

Besides, I don’t think young people should swear off their childhood friends as possible marriage partners. This generally means spouses will be chosen from among people who aren’t very close to the individual choosing… not a good idea in my eyes, although it does work somehow in different cultures.


I think marriage people should have a strong, deep and close friendship with each other. That would be the ideal situation to be married in, along with the fact that you love each other. I don’t think I would (will) mind if someone I married had male friends. I would trust them 100% and hope that they would do the same. Surely if you love someone so much to get married, you could have as many friends of the opposite sex as you liked and it should never lead to anything close to adultery.

Or is that just too idealistic?


Naah, like I said, most of my friends are opp. sex…

I don’t think it’s idealistic.


I think the other issue for a married person is respect for your spouse. I would never “add” another sister (I already have 3) to my relationships since I think it is always inappropriate for a man to be “close friends” with a women especially when either are married to someone else. I have had great friendships with women prior to marriage but never would I have been as relaxed with them as I would with my sisters especially when it comes to hugging and other PDA’s.

I have even gone as far as to never be in close contact outside of a business office one on one with a woman I always go with group. I don’t do business lunches one on one with them, I don’t go out of town with them, I don’t travel with them because I would never want my wife to ever wonder if there was something going on. Its not a matter of her trusting me, its a matter of my respect for her and our marriage.


As Christians, and especially in some circles, we often call our friends in Jesus brother or sister,
I recently came home from a journey where I met many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, most were evangelical.
I called them brother or sister and they did me,… I think it served both to strengthen our bonds and to cause a good envy from the non-believers.
Especially one brother called me precious sister quite alot and I found this wonderful because we called eachother such things really to be strong in Jesus and because we recognised that there truly was a born-again believer infront of us… but with one person, although we both love Christ and really want to live for Him, we ended up having a relationship that also involved sin. So i think that brother-sister is good… but dont think it will protect you from temptation… feelings can be sudden and overwhelming… and you dont need an incest-charge on your head on top of everything …


I’m not sure I agree that this is a solution to the question of opposite-sex friends for people who are married. I guess I would have to know what this “brother-sister” relationship would look like. As friendships grow over time it is natural I think for them to grow in the direction of emotional and spiritual intimacy. I think this can be especially true of opposite-sex friends because of the deep natural complementarity which exists between men and women and the fact that this complementarity often tends towards a desire for union.

Everyone agrees that physical adultery is wrong, yet there is also a great deal written these days about “emotional adultery”. Even in good Christian marriages it can be a real struggle to maintain a high level of emotional and spiritual intimacy and when you live with a person it is so easy for difficulties and small and large resentments to impact the marriage relationship, almost without the spouses realizing it. With friends, however, because contact is more limited, it’s easier to put one’s best foot forward and to be a support for the other person. Even given that a physical attraction or involvement would be completely ruled out here between “brother-sister” friends, it seems to me that it would be easy for a man to enjoy the emotional support that only a woman can provide (no matter how chaste) and vice versa, which in fact takes away something from the spousal relationship. Emotional energy, like physical energy is limited, and I think it can too easily happen, that such friendships can result in a friend knowing more about a person’s interior life than their spouse does.

If marriage is the total gift of oneself then I think that there are not only physical boundaries which are not to be violated, there are emotional/spiritual boundaries as well. Just as there must be physical modesty I believe a certain emotional modesty is necessary as well. The boundaries are harder to define here, but I think they do exist. Any thoughts?


It is in fact an old Catholic ritual as well. It is now exploited as being Church-approved gay marriage. The potential for abuse is so scandalously high that the very minor hypothetical benefits would be outweighed.

The East doesn’t allow godparents or sponsors to be married to their godchildren out of respect for the spiritual family bond. Try telling a bunch of Americans that they aren’t allowed to be their spouses’ sponsors and you won’t get through to the majority of them. Eastern countries are still rooted in a family base, unlike America where families are spread out and out-of-touch with each other. It doesn’t mean the same thing to Americans.

Plus, if someone is willing to break his or her marriage vows to have an affair, what’s going to stop him or her from breaking a sibling vow to do it with that particular person?


WOW good point! :thumbsup:

I mean it! I am sitting here thinking about some close male friends I have, and how it would be totally appropriate, but then again: I don’t talk to or hang out with said friends without my HUSBAND’S knowledge or consent. If I talk to a male friend of mine I actually report it. Out of respect. I think that is why he’s not threatened or suspicious of my male friends. All of my male friends have compeltely befriended and respect my husband. But that’s the way WE roll…LOL

You make a great point though, in a situation less permissable (I think that’s the correct term I am looking for): the chance of abuse or scandal is SO high in some situations it would be a disgrace.

Great, sane argument there. While I am for a sibling-type ritual, I think it should be reserved for everyone involved to know what the actual CHANCES are of that ritual and honor being disgraced.

In that sense: very few of these rituals would/should be performed. We can say one thing in 2007, and be completely unmindful of it in 2017. Or even more importantly, the promises of a teenager at 16 is VERY different than the promise of a 36 year old adult.


True, family here matters a lot and is very tightly woven and perhaps in many other societies this couldn’t work.

For instance, not only do we not allow marriage to godparents or siblings or first cousins, it is also absolutely unthinkable to marry a relative up to the 7th degree. So, you don’t even think about an emotional involvement with many people of the opposite sex ONLY b/c there is an awareness that they are biologically or spiritually related to you.

The impossibility of a liasion tends to preclude any such thoughts. I don’t think not being attracted to siblings comes naturally - it is taught (remember ancient Egypt), but it can be taught very well, apparently, as incest isn’t as common as adultery, premarital sex etc.

Nobody in the East would contemplate any involvement with their or their children’s godparent - it would be even more scandalous than incest - and this is not natural, it is taught.

What I proposed looks much like godparent or family relations in very traditional settings. If a man has a brother-in-God or a sister-in-God, that person is treated as a sibling by the entire family, including his wife. In traditional settings, of course, they wouldn’t meet alone or go out together - the person (and his/her family) would visit the whole family, including the wife.


I completely agree with this post. To limit infidelity to the physical realm is to lower the dignity of human beings of both genders. We are made up of much more than that. When we marry, we give all of ourselves to our spouse as a gift. To have intimacy, (which can extend to many other areas besides sexual), with any other person besides our spouse, is a dishonor to our marriage.
We all know when we are approaching the “line” between regular friendly warmth and sharing parts of ourselves that should remain only between ourselves and our spouse.
This can apply to the unmarried as well. People can develop relationships before marriage that they realize are inappropriate once they approach marriage. It can be a sticky thing to deal with after the fact.


Then this should really apply to same-sex friends as well. For me, it does - I don’t have many very close female friends (I’m a woman) and I never share intimate things from my marriage with them, nor am I closer to them in any way than I am to my husband.

OTOH, there are things (of a more general kind) that I can only discuss with them, as my husband is simply not interested in them. But this applies to my male friends even more! :shrug:




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