Editors Note: Having returned from my travels and recovered from the Rona, I now am pleased to post this first article of the year. Thanks to any regular readers for your patience.
Because I am not that smart or just bursting with new ideas I am going to return to a few of my hobby horses: Co-ed friendships, marriage, C.S. Lewis, and The Gospel Coalition. If you bail now I don’t blame you, if you stick around, bless you.
Shane Morris wrote a piece some months back that had all the hallmarks of something I should love. And I did. I actually have no criticisms what so ever about his article. I commend it highly. I just have a few observations to make as I scrape the bottom of the idea barrel, and you are welcome to consider or discard them.
First. Morris is entirely correct in his correction of the irritating “I married my best friend” mindset. It is schmaltzy at best and dangerous (as Morris writes) at worst. There is something to a spouse being a friend. I spend a goodly amount of time with my wife, doing things together, talking, listening to podcasts over drinks, going out to eat in a “non date night capacity.” I genuinely like her and her company. Our marriage has a strong element of friendship. At the same time there are some areas in which she simply is a poor substitute for my best friends. She doesn’t want to stay up late drinking scotch listening to the Last Samurai soundtrack and crying over the beauty of predestination like Hudson. She is not the person I go to when I want to be snarky about people in Hammer and commiserate that the last plague didn’t do it’s job nearly half as well with so many extroverts still wandering around being boisterous*. I text M’colleague T.S. about that. When I want to argue for hours on end about the finer points of eschatology or libertarianism I go to Syme. There are just some things in which my wife is uninterested or just not passionate about, and that is ok. It is why God gives friends. Morris points out that by reducing a spouse to friendship the erotic element of marriage is removed which leads to.
Second. Oh how I hate the constant creep of eroticism toward friendship. The Tolkien society just went woke at their last conference looking to find homo eroticism in the friendships of Middle Earth, “Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth” and for years Frodo and Sam, among others, have been given this treatment. History has been read this way, fiction constantly. And now any close same sex friendship is suspect. Eros should not be imputed into friendship, they are separate things and they are separate for a reason. It is also frustrating the whole damned if you do damned if you don’t approach. Were I to be solely masculine with my male friends then it is postulated that I am covering my latent attraction. If I am affectionate then it seems obvious that I am attracted and trying to seduce. It is beyond high time we remember that there are more than one kind of love and we have clearly defined words for a reason.
Third. The your spouse must be your best friend, thing grinds my gears because it necessarily excludes co-ed friendships. This is probably the most debatable of my points. But am an advocate for friends of both genders. I don’t like the idea that somehow I am irresistible to all women who might get close to me; as much as I resent the notion that I will be overcome by their feminine wiles and succumb to adultery. I love my friends who are women, and not in the same way I love my wife. Perhaps there are some men who should never be close friends with women. But an across the board rule is legalism. And this is a pharisaical position I am simply done with. This blog would not exist without M’colleague, who is a woman. The reason she and I are friends are very different from the reasons I married my wife. There is a reason T.S. and I are friends and eroticism simply does not enter into it.
A good amount of todays silliness boils down to our own shallowness. Christians have failed to read and reread** thinkers of greater depth than us. Chief among them the venerable Lewis***. I married my best friend sounds like a nice sentiment, but it is a like algae covering a rock, it looks pretty but is slick and leads to a fall. Solid hard definitions and application dictated there from is sure footing. And from such a place greater exploration of our friendships and marriages is possible.
*Seriously how did the Rona not make a bigger dent in the overly social population, it seemed tailor made for them.
**”The common man reads, the literary man rereads.” – C.S. Lewis
***I do not think it is mere coincidence that The Four Loves has come under such strong attack from the feminist left. Should the wisdom contained in its pages become common place the gaff will be blown and the entire enterprise might just come toppling over.