May SSA Christians Have Non-Sexual Romantic Relationships?

The Gospel Coalition | 3/23/2019 | Staff
erinmmarion (Posted by) Level 3
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When it comes to same-sex relationships and the church, I’ve heard more and more people propose some sort of committed, same-sex, non-sexual romantic friendships for those who want to uphold the Christian sexual ethic.

This, they say, avoids the supposed loneliness of singleness while upholding biblical standards of sexual behavior.

Trouble - Kind - Suggestion - Sex - Thing

The trouble with this kind of suggestion is it assumes sex is the only thing that separates marriage from other kinds of close friendship. On this view, there is a sort of relational continuum, with regular friendship at one end and marriage at the other. Marriage is the most intense expression of relational intimacy, and friendship is a less intense expression. By this reckoning, there’s a point somewhere along the spectrum where two friends can enjoy romantic intimacy without transgressing into the sort of sexual intimacy reserved for marriage.

But this is to misunderstand both friendship and marriage. They aren’t merely less intense and more intense expressions of the same underlying reality, such that you can keep adding units of intimacy to friendship until it eventually becomes marriage. The architecture of both marriage and friendship are necessarily different.

Marriage - Friendship - Sex - Marriage - Sex

Marriage isn’t just close friendship with added sex. Nor is close friendship marriage without sex. Marriage by definition and necessity must be exclusive. It is covenantal. If it isn’t exclusive, its very essence is violated. This isn’t the case with friendship. Friendship doesn’t require exclusivity. My friendship with even my closest friend isn’t threatened by the growth of a similar friendship with someone else. It’s not a zero-sum game.

In fact, the opposite is often the case. A couple of years ago, a close friend and I were planning a hiking trip to Scotland. I was really looking forward to it: one of my favorite people in one of...
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