“..He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love"
-St. Basil the Great
A great myth and demonic deception in any relationship, especially in a friendship involving the opposite sex is that “I am in control” or “I can control my emotions and actions at any time” or “I can stop what I am doing at any time.” This is indeed a huge deception, since if we are not careful, there reaches a certain point where we cannot control our bodily desires and thoughts. Part of this is human nature and a large part is the influence of the devil and demonic forces at work.
As St. James says in James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Thus, we must learn to have pure and Godly friendships with the opposite sex so that we can all grow up to be fully mature in Christ and be Christlike.
5 Principles to A Godly Friendship with the Opposite Sex
"Whenever I feel a person burning with Christian mercy and love for me has become my friend, when I entrust any of my plans and thoughts to him, I am entrusting them not to a man, but to Him in whom he abides, so as to be like Him, ‘for God is love, and the one who lives in love lives in God." -St Augustine
1. Develop A Serious Spiritual Life & Regular Prayer Life
Having a strong relationship with God keeps us in balance and helps us to make wise and proper decisions. A close relationship with Jesus Christ helps curb our emotions and lessens our needs for others. Our needs become fulfilled in Christ and Christ keeps our emotions and actions in check. We need a daily prayer life to fight off temptation and the thoughts that the devil tries to implant in us.
Read the Bible regularly, and find stories and verses in the Bible that talk about purity to strengthen you. A relationship with Christ gives us a much needed healthy self-esteem that enables us to be independent and not seek love, approval, or emotional or physical satisfaction from others.
2. Define Clear Boundaries
Boundaries are very important when it comes to friendships. Always make sure to maintain proper boundaries between you and the other person. This includes minimizing one on one communication in all forms, including phones, text, or face to face on one on one meetings. Such one on one meetings stir emotions, which can then be very hard to control, and they often lead to dating. Always try to talk to the other gender in groups, which is a much healthier form of communication. Avoid physical contact such as hugs, being touchy-feely, getting close, etc... These stir emotions.
Always check yourself on boundaries by talking to your father of confession and seeking spiritual counsel from parents and elders. Boundaries are key in friendships with the other gender. If you see that boundaries cannot be properly maintained by either side, end the friendship immediately before disaster occurs. You need to be sharp and clear.
3. You Don’t Have Self-Control
Many people say, “I can control my emotions. I can end things at any time.” This is the biggest deception the devil has to offer is that he makes you think you are in charge, you can control any situation at hand. This is just simply a falsehood. The fact is, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to control emotions and thoughts at a young age or at any age when people meet together one-on-one. The intentions may be good, but the results are often disastrous. The emotional and physical needs of the body are extremely difficult to control, especially at a young age or when single.
4. They Are Your Brother/Sister
Learn how to love others as brothers and sisters by viewing the other person in the image of God. Be holy and unselfish. Do not focus on your needs, but rather focus on serving others. Focusing on my needs often leads to emotional and physical feelings. Focus on serving others and the needs of others. St. Paul says “esteem others better than yourself.” That is, treat people better than you treat yourself and consider the needs of others more important than yours.
The best way to fight the devil is through Godly love and sincere service. Treat each other as brother and sister.
5. Keep Busy Serving & Glorifying God
One of the best ways to fight off temptation is to keep your mind focused on important things. Stay busy! Never allow time for boredom or stagnation because this is when the devil takes charge. Stay busy with school, sports, church service, reading the Bible, reading spiritual books, prayer, church activities, etc... Never let your mind wander. Minimize watching television or playing video games, surfing the internet, or texting. This is a huge waste of time that often leads to sin. The prophet David is a great example of what can happen when we waste time and have nothing to do. This free time of his led his adultery with Bathsheba and the murdering of her husband. When we sit around with nothing to do, this ultimately leads to sin. Stay busy!
"Only a friendship based on a mutual desire for perfection is capable of surviving, and this desire must be strong in each friend; each must, in a word, share a common yearning for the good"