“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
– John 15:9-17
“A belief in invisible cats cannot perhaps be logically disproved, but it tells us a good deal about those who hold it. Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only a disgrace or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.”
– C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
In the C. S. Lewis quote above, he had just finished discussing an argument conveyed in his day that ‘friendship’ cannot exist without latent homosexual tendencies. This is probably the reason why Lewis makes the comment regarding proponents of that concept never having had a friend.
This is not in any way what Jesus was talking about in John 15 as He ‘commissions’ His disciples during the Last Supper. The disciples will be persecuted, hunted down, and eventually killed because they followed Jesus. After Matthias replaced Judas, each had eleven friends with a monumental common interest, the Love of Jesus and spreading that message to the ends of the earth.
Since I wrote about making friends a couple of days ago and doing the good neighbor thing during hard times was part of my focus yesterday, I just had to continue the idea of neighborliness and friendliness for another day.
Do you believe in invisible cats? Lewis likens believing in invisible cates to those who believe that sexual thoughts, if not actions, are a part of friendship. If you are wondering where that came from or where Lewis was going, let me ask another question. Do you believe in a very deep love for one of your fellow human beings where sex is totally off the table? Do you have that confidant where you share everything, but you are simply buddies?
The corollary to that is: Do you know people that are so obsessed with earthly pleasures that some type of sexual foreplay is always involved, at least in their minds, in every relationship?
Does the thought of that last question want you to carry disinfecting wipes for each time you shake hands with a stranger?
In Numbers 22-24, we have the delightful tale of Balaam and his refusal to place a curse on Israel. I may come back to that thought in a future post. Balaam was hired by the king of Moab to curse them. God told Balaam that the Israelites were a ‘blessed’ people and cursing them was off the table. Yet, the people of Moab had their own way of having the Israelites ‘cursed’. In Numbers 25, the Moabites introduced the Israelites to their whores and their sex shrines. God became furious. He demanded that the leaders be hanged. A plague started killing the men involved, but Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, saw one of the leaders take a Moabite woman into his tent. He ran them through with a sword, killing both with a single thrust. This ended the plague, but 24,000 had already died, a direct result of sexual misconduct.
What does this have to do with ‘friendship’? Nothing, but it has everything to do with our sinful nature. We, as members of the human race, are obsessed with sex. Should that enter our minds in a friendship?
Friendship can be a very pure thing. We can work side by side with a friend. We can dine together. We can laugh, tell jokes, tell secrets. We can trust each other.
Then, Satan rears his ugly head and makes something out of it that is not there. Whether Satan tempts one friend or the other, or Satan has a third party accuse the friends of something they had never thought of.
When there is a true innocent friendship, it should be celebrated, not questioned. Do I believe in invisible cats? Absolutely NOT. I believe that friendships are just that, friendships. I, at least, hold out hope that they can and do exist. I yearn to have more.
Lewis also asserted that there could be a relationship that is both erotic and friendly. I think that my wife and I have had 43 and a half years of wedded bliss for that reason. We are not just husband and wife, we are best friends. When we were dating, she asked me what about her did I like best. I said, “You are so easy to talk to.” That poll of many years ago that concluded that the average married couple had 20 minutes of meaningful conversation each week never asked us. Yes, at times, my wife binge watches one television show or another. Drat that smart TV! But she could say the same when I am in the basement writing or watching sports. Even with distractions, we beat the 20-minute average daily, not just a weekly total. Why? We are best friends.
Do you need a friend? Anyone believing in invisible cats, need not apply.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.