Friendships among people of different sexes are possible!

“There will probably be no friendship between boys and girls that consists only of playing chess together, talking and eating ice cream together. At some point it will come to the first physical touch, the first kiss, and it is very likely that it will not stop there if both are healthy and developed normally.”

Wolfgang Bühne: Kann denn Liebe Sünde sein? Freundschaft, Liebe, Sexualität – und die Nachfolge Jesu. Bielefeld: CLV, 2001, p. 43 (English translation mine).

I strongly disagree to Bühne’s view that friendship among two people of a different sex is impossible: friendship has nothing to do with biological sex, friendship has something to do with our attitude towards others. Of course, a man and a woman are able to build up a friendship without any sexual intimacy, and one can build mutual feelings of friendship which are not meant to develop into a sexual relationship. Because what does biological sex have to do with character traits? Does a man or a woman always have to have a sexual attraction, just because the person with whom one is in touch is of a different sex? The thought that friendship requires a same-sex basis is a very narrowed and even quite problematic view: it segregates human-beings and does not make mutual respect for a person for the person’s sake possible.

If we enter a friendship, we respect the person for who this person is and not because of exterior traits! So indeed it is possible to be someone’s friend of the opposite sex for the sake of playing chess, hanging out together, having dinner together, or for admiring the person for who that person is. Friendship requires that we see the pure beauty in the other person and as true beauty is always of the same quality (Plato!), it is not bound to the person’s sex. Even further, beauty is not bound to sexuality.

If someone has a problem with a liberal understanding of a society tolerating sex outside of marriage, this particular person might, if he or she wants to, blame the society’s decay, but not the friendship among opposite-sex-friendships. The actual decay of a society, in my view, is if a society segregates men and women and discourages opposite-sex-friendships because this means that one does not trust one’s partner that a friend is only a friend: this kind of mistrust, this greed and jealousy is a poison towards both, the society and the individual. The three poisons make us suffer and we have to liberate ourselves from them.

We have to learn to overcome all this hate and anger and develop trust and mutual respect. So not the friendship with a person of a different sex is sin, but dividing the society by making sex person-defining, avoiding mutual respect for each other, no matter which sex a person has; we have to avoid forming artificial roles and expectations and instead should find our way back to the natural order, in which each person can be who he or she actually is.

Timo Schmitz, 29 December 2022

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