Sarah met Meredith at a Bible study on her college campus. They were drawn together because of their mutual passion for Christ and their desire to live set-apart lives for Him. They hit it off immediately, and their friendship grew quickly over a period of several months.
The girls attended church and Bible studies together, spent much of their free time together, and even became housemates because of how much they enjoyed each other’s company. Sarah felt a deep personal connection with Meredith whenever they talked. She began to open up to her friend about past hurts, current struggles, and future dreams. They had many late-night chats where they would laugh, cry, and pray together. Meredith was always warm, caring, and empathetic—one of the best girlfriends Sarah had ever known.
Gradually and subtly, Meredith began to dominate Sarah’s time. Sarah began to pull away from many of her other friends without even realizing what she was doing. She no longer connected with her family members like she used to. And her personal quiet times with Christ began to dwindle. Instead, she spent nearly every free moment of her time with Meredith—talking, praying, laughing, and just “doing life” together. Meredith was the one whom she confided everything to, and she knew every detail of Sarah’s life. Others began to notice how physically affectionate the two girls were.
For the most part, Sarah’s friendship with Meredith seemed harmless. But something wasn’t right. Sarah was growing spiritually, emotionally, and even physically attached to her friend in an unhealthy way. Meredith was taking center stage in Sarah’s life—and Sarah hardly knew it was happening. She couldn’t understand why her personal relationship with Jesus Christ seemed to be dwindling, even though she and Meredith spent so much time discussing spiritual things.
When Friendship Becomes an Idol
Even though Sarah and Meredith were Christian girls and they spent countless hours talking about spiritual truths, in reality their friendship was not centered upon Jesus Christ. Sarah had given Meredith a position in her life that she was never meant to have. As Sarah began to awaken to what was happening, she asked God to forgive her for yielding to a friendship that had pulled her away from Christ, diminished her family relationships, dulled her spiritually, and even subtly compromised her physical and emotional purity. She asked forgiveness from her friends and family members for pushing them away.
As soon as Meredith realized that she had lost her control over Sarah, she soon found a new “best friend” with whom she could repeat the same cycle. By the grace of God, Sarah was able to make a fresh start in her life and continues to thank God for rescuing her from an unhealthy friendship before even greater damage was done.
Be On Guard
Most of us tend to think that relationships with the opposite sex is the area where we must vigilantly protect our purity. And yet we as set-apart young women must not be ignorant of the enemy’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). If he cannot entice us to compromise in one area, often he will attack us in another.
If he cannot entice us to compromise in one area, often he will attack us in another.
While having like-minded girlfriends can be a wonderful blessing to our lives, we must have high standards for set-apartness in our friendships with other women. As with any other area, in friendship our goal should be to honor Jesus Christ and bring glory to His name, not just to pursue our own happiness and
security and certainly not to follow the warped and twisted patterns of the culture.
Here are some practical suggestions for keeping girl friendships healthy, pure, and Christ-centered.
1. Avoid emotional dependence.
When you find a girlfriend that you really connect with, there is a strong temptation to call or text her multiple times a day, tell her every detail about your life, and rush to spill your guts to her whenever something difficult or exciting happens. Girls are prone to spend hours of each week “processing” their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and dreams with each other. Even though it’s a blessing to have a like-minded sister that you can open up to, if you allow too much opening up too often, it will quickly lead to an unhealthy pattern of emotional dependence.
Human relationships must never take the place of true intimacy with Jesus Christ.
Human relationships must never take the place of true intimacy with Jesus Christ. God’s presence should be the first place we run when we feel fear, joy, hope, or distress. He is our strong and mighty tower, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1). God’s Word compares Him to a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Psalm 62:8 says that we are to trust Him at all times and pour out our hearts before Him. Most of us are far more inclined to pour out our hearts to our girlfriends than to our faithful Lord.
If you feel that you cannot handle trials or difficulties without processing through them with your friend, then very likely there has been unhealthy emotional dependence created in the friendship. Ask God to help you establish new patterns in this area of your life. Practice pouring out your heart to Him first and foremost and putting boundaries on how much and how often you share with your friends.
There is a dimension of “bearing one another’s burdens” that is applauded in Scripture. But I believe that a closer look at Scripture shows that this concept has a lot more to do with practically helping those in need. It’s not always wrong to share hurts, fears, hopes, and dreams with your girlfriends. But make sure your times of sharing are merely an outflow of your personal walk with Jesus Christ and not a replacement for it.
2. Be guarded with physical affection.
Many Christian young women feel totally free to show lots of physical affection toward other girls. This kind of girl/girl touch is totally acceptable in our culture, and many girls justify it because “there is nothing sexual going on.” But just because there is nothing overtly sexual going on doesn’t mean there is nothing subtly sensual going on.
Physical purity in guy/girl relationships is far more than merely not crossing a “line,” and the same principle applies to physical purity in girl/girl relationships. If you study the pattern of Scripture (such as the book of Song of Solomon), you will notice that all forms of sensual touch—caressing, embracing, etc.—are part of the physical intimacy God designed between a man and woman in a covenant marriage relationship. As it says in Romans 1:26, sensual touch between women is unnatural and dishonoring to God’s pattern.
It is perfectly appropriate to give a friendly hug to another girl or put your arm around her shoulder to comfort her while she is crying. Caution should be taken, however, in extended caressing or cuddling, even when the motivation is pure.
Another reason to be guarded in this area is because sensual touch, even if you don’t mean it to be sensual, can awaken physical desires both in you and in others who are observing your behavior. Romans 14:13 says we are to be resolved not to be a stumbling block in another’s way. One of the best ways to obey this exhortation is to be guarded and above reproach in all your physical interaction with others—both guys and girls.
3. Put boundaries around time spent with friends.
It’s always fun having someone to “do life” with—a workout buddy, a shopping partner, a coffee shop confidant, or a texting pal. Always having a friend by your side (or via your phone) can make you feel secure and confident, while doing things alone can lead to feeling lonely and self-conscious. But spending all your waking hours with a friend is not healthy. Christ desires to give you a confidence and contentment that flows from your relationship with Him. Psalm 16:11 says that in His presence is fullness of joy. If we are always in the presence of our friends, we never have time to be alone in the presence of our King. We end up looking to our friends’ company for security and peace rather than finding it first and foremost in Jesus Christ.
Christ desires to give you a confidence and contentment that flows from your relationship with Him.
In addition, spending too much time with a girlfriend, if she is a controlling or manipulative person, can set you up to be dominated in an unhealthy way—like Sarah who allowed Meredith to govern her time, decisions, and outside relationships. Often, girlfriends that spend too much time with each other
get to the point where they cannot function as individuals or make decisions outside of the other person’s influence and opinion.
Prayerfully consider how much time you spend with your girlfriends. If you find that the majority of your free time is spent with friends and very little is spent in the presence of your King, then ask God to rebuild your habits in this area. Practice going places on your own, ignoring your phone for an evening, shutting off your computer, and turning your gaze upon Jesus. Learn how to be “on your own with Jesus,” and allow Him to show you that in His presence is the fullness of joy! And when you spend time with your girlfriends, make sure that it is not something you look to or lean upon for your happiness or security. Because truly, those things are only found in the Best Friend we will ever have.
Who better to teach us how to build strong healthy friendships than the One who created friendship in the first place? When we look to God’s Word instead of the patterns of culture, we discover friendships as they were truly intended to be—a reflection of the beautiful, edifying fellowship we have with our King.