...we forget that marriage should actually be the union of two best friends... Your spouse should be your best friend.This sort of statement has always rubbed me the wrong way and I have never taken the time to really put my finger on why this bothers me. Sometimes I see a meme or something that says, "Share if your husband is your best friend" and I just cringe. What is with this modern obsession with friends and best friends?
The basis for my disgust with this notion is that a friendship is fundamentally a non-sexual relationship. Having sex with a friend transforms the relationship to something else entirely. We try to be clever and use terms like "friends with benefits," but the truth is that we don't have sex with friends. Having sex with a person means the person is a lover (in the case of fornicators) or a spouse, in the case of married people.
Different types of relationships have different titles, naturally. The woman who gave birth to me is my mother. The way we are related tends to set the parameters of the relationship. While not every parent/child relationship is identical (since no two people are exactly alike), every parent/child relationship has similar elements. For starters, I don't have sex with my mother or my father, pretty much by definition. Just as I don't have sex with my friends. Mothers and fathers are entitled to honor and there is an exalted status that goes with the parenthood relationship which is not enhanced by referring to them as my friends. But for some reason, in America, the culture gives exalted status to friendship over every other relationship, so that it isn't respectable to be a sister, brother or uncle unless that is qualified with ,"but I consider him a friend."
Not only do we want to have lots of friends and we want to lump every person related to us in any capacity into the group titled "friends." We also like to rate our friends. We have good friends, close friends, old friends and la creme' de la creme', the "best friend." This friend is sometimes referred to as the BFF (best friend forever). But there can only be one BEST friend, right? Otherwise it isn't the best. This is problematic.
Why is it problematic? you may ask. Because we are asking our friends to compete for the title. This is my friend, Jenny, and this is my friend, Mary, and THIS is my best friend, Rita! Now Rita gets to bask in her elevated title and the other gals get to feel inferior and plot how they can knock Rita from the pedestal to which she was exalted. Imagine if Jenny considered me to be her best friend, and I just stated that my best friend is Rita. This is not only confusion, it is cruel and pretty stupid.
Now, let us factor males and females into this mix. Let's say an unmarried woman by the name of Jane has male and female friends. Todd is one of her friends. Todd would like to be more than a friend to Jane, but so far, Jane doesn't seem to share this interest. Jane has declared that Maria is her BFF. According to Scott LaPierre, "marriage should actually be the union of two best friends" so does Jane marry her friend Maria? Of course not. Can Jane marry Todd? I mean, he isn't her best friend.
If Jane decides that Todd would be a good marriage partner, does she have to wait to marry him until Todd achieves BFF status with Jane? What if Todd and Jane become best friends and they don't want to marry? Are they forever forbidden from marrying other people unless they break up as BFFs?
I submit that "husband" is a superior relationship status to "best friend." It is superior in quality and fundamentally different in expression. The husband/wife relationship is, at its base, a sexual relationship. A one-flesh relationship. If I were to refer to my husband as my best friend, it would be a downgrade from the exalted status he holds in my life.
In our relationships with people, we should use care not to become conformed to this world, or to a particular culture. There is a biblical culture that transcends time and location. When God created marriage, He did not look around at the various existing relationships and say "A spouse is like a friend, but of the very best sort." Instead, he created marriage to illustrate to us the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is valid in every corner of the globe and in every culture. While it might be comfortable for an American to say that his wife is his best friend, in other cultures that idea might be totally preposterous. It just doesn't compute. "A friend? Are you kidding? She's my WIFE!" Because the answers to "what is a friend?" and "who can be my friend" are not universal, we should not be proclaiming that in "marriage God's way" a spouse is a best friend. God did not say such a thing and the Bible doesn't endorse this idea.
Outside of marriage, Americans are equally careless in identifying, quantifying and rating friendships. We would do better to limit the use of friend and to use other more specific terms to define what other people are to us. For example, a person I have just met is more properly described as an acquaintance. In the same way, the men that I know are my husband's friends or the husbands of my friends. I try to never call men my friends. It is not appropriate for men and women to be in friendships as that relationship is thought of in America.
Between the same sex, as in friendships between women, it is wise to identify no particular woman as a best friend. I forbid my children from using this terminology. Among girls, it is almost dangerous because of the multiple ways they will hurt each other by classifying each other. It is ok to say that someone is a close friend, because I may have several women who fit that description. I can say from experience that these sorts of friendships are transitory because life is not static. A close friend to an unmarried woman may move from the inner circle when the woman marries, or when she has children. People change churches and move to other towns and their circles of friends are ever shifting. There is nothing wrong with this and no one should feel burdened to maintain a close friendship whose season in life has passed.
So there. I've said it. My husband is NOT my best friend. He is dearer to me than any other. We share a oneness that no other type of relationship can approach. He is not threatened by my relationships with my close friends, because the nature of my relationship with him and my relationships with my women friends are so completely different in quality. If I were to expect from him the things I look for from my friends, it would be wearisome to him. Likewise, he doesn't look to me for friendship. It doesn't mean we don't have fun together, or that we don't share common interests. We do. But those things do not define our relationship as husband and wife.
I think the author has a presupposition that everyone should have a best friend, and so it is understandable that such a thing might be seen to compete with or endanger the relationship between a husband and wife. Therefore, it would naturally follow (from the presupposition) that husbands and wives should be best friends. However, the Bible doesn't prescribe having a best friend, and it is a good practice for Christians to avoid such decisive relationships. Instead, just call a friend a friend and call a spouse a spouse.