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Marriage part 3: Friendship



John 15.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.


18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.






– C.S. Lewis’ “Four Loves” essay

– Tim Keller’s sermon series on Proverbs

– Emerson’s “Friendship” essay


I want to spend the next 45 minutes discussing Friendship as it pertains to marriage

We will divide this part of the series up into 3 parts:

We will discuss Friendship generically

Then we will discuss why Friendship is a critical component of a solid marriage

Finally will frame Friendship in the ideal reflection of the gospel that marriage is


Though spoken of less commonly, 

a friendless marriage is as common as a loveless one… perhaps even more


Many marriages neither start out as friendships 

nor do they survive long enough to become friendships.


“They got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,

They’ve been talking about Jackson

Ever since the fire went out.” — Johnny & June Cash


And what is poignantly sad is when they figure out how to be friends: After divorce


Some think they don’t need to be friends, or perhaps not best friends.


This is a mistake.


June Carter was right: Marriage love is a burning fire that burns burns burns

must be built inside fire ring of Friendship


If you aren’t friends, best friends, true friends, 

Your bonfire is like to burn your whole house down and maybe even much more.



Part 1 – What is friendship?


It is a type of love (phileo)

Much greater than the common usage of acquaintance, coworker, buddy

Buddy ‘love’ best defined as simply a lack of malice


It is very different from other types of relationships (loves)

Storge (familiar), Apape (God’s), Eros (sensual) [CSLewis – Four Loves]


Storge: Proverbs tells us that a friend sticks closer than a brother – Pro 18.24


Agape: Jesus teaches us that we are to love our enemies – Mt 5.44


Eros: This would seem to be the most intimate type of love (sexual)

But on its own it is really the most shallow

I don’t mean most self-centered or self-satisfying (although it can be)

Rather, it is shallow because it enthralls itself on mind-numbing passion

Lovers explore each others bodies, but not necessarily their minds, souls

Friendship is exploring each other’s mind, soul, heart

** Univ Illinois student expelled for accusation of exceeding consent

‘Hooked up’ after texting

After sex asked girl about tattoo – she: related to mental health struggle

He cut off relationship, too complicated; she felt used, filed complaint

Error opinion that should establish physical compatibility before marriage

This is silly: Physical compatibility is an anatomical reality

Often couple discovers after sex that they are not compatible as people, souls

*** Dave Portnoy accused of sex assualt: 

Sex with girl, hated each other after

‘Nothing in common, couldn’t even stay in same room after sex’ (2021)

Friendship can is difficult to construct on top of sexual relationship

Rather erotic love should be layered over friendship (proper order)



Friendship is a very unique relationship. 

As CS Lewis observed, it is unlike any other relationship, even romantic love. He wrote that lovers are best visualized as two people facing each other

lost in each other, 

oblivious to all else but the other, 

thinking, speaking to each other about each other and their love.

However, friends stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, 

seldomly, if ever, talking about their friendship or each other, 

absorbed also, but in a common interest. 

To put it another way, Emerson wrote: 

“In friendship ‘Do you love me?’ means ‘Do you see the same truth?’ 

– Or at least, ‘Do you care about the same truth?’”


Friendship is not just doing things at the same time

Otherwise, simply getting on a bus with 49 others would make you friends

– You can be ‘friendly’ with fellow passengers, but that isn’t Phileo

Rather it is: Doing things together

50 people aren’t friends because they go somewhere at the same time

But they are (or become) friends when they go there together

Not just physically: Intellectually, emotionally, soulfully

It is to share (give and take, feed and eat) the same values & objectives


“Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.” — C.S.  Lewis. The Four Loves


“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.

Make it last forever, friendship never ends.

If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give.

Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is.” — Spice Girls


Friendship is a relationship that never keeps score

50/50 doesn’t exist in a true, great friendship

When one party begins to feel that the other is taking more than giving

The friendship has already been broken

An intact friendship has no idea who might have given more


Part 2 – Why is friendship a critical component to marriage?


Technically, maybe you can have a marriage without friendship, 

but it is like driving a car without headlights: 

All by feeling and passion, no intellect or reason.


It is possible, and not unheard of, for a friendless marriage to grow into a friendship

However true friendship must grow independent of sexual or domestic love. 

Not just layered over it, but in its own right, independent of it. [Difficult for sure]


Without being friends, you are physically intimate, domestically intimate

But not intellectually intimate (mind, soul, heart)

You can see how this is problematic?

– “I want your body, I want your domestic services… not real/deeper intimacy.”


Sex (by itself) is not deep, heartfelt intimacy 

Sex is the ultimate consumation of the ultimate friendship

Because Friendship is trust.

Therefore you can speak bluntly, honestly, even ‘hurtfully’ to each other

Sex without trust starts off very exciting, but often ends in pain, disalusionament


The deeper that friendship, the deeper everything in marriage can be. 

Developing a friendship in marriage is like digging a well: 

The deeper the well the more intimate your love can be, domestic life, etc. 


Others can, and should, be brought into the friendship, 

but never replacing the spouse. 


Each spouse can also have other friendships that don’t include the other, 

but the friendship of the spouses must be guarded from mutating to exclude spouse


As we said previously: Friendship is not based on loving each other

But on loving something together, pursuing something totally together


Future (Career, retirement, accomplishment)

Meaningful endeavor (not watching TV, movies, entertainment) 


We must seek to become friends, even if already married

Do things TOGETHER, not just at the same time.

– Little things and BIG things.


Ultimately, for Christians, it is loving Christ (I don’t know what non-believers love)

If you listen to J. Peterson et al., you love the “divine spark in every individual”

This simply doesn’t work.

Apostle Paul explains the undeniable impossibility with this philosophy

It isn’t the dying ember, the last vestige of humanistic divinity that we rally to


It is, as Paul wrote in Colosians 1.27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”


There is only one relationship that is deeper than friendship: Spirituality.

And for Christians, these are very closely connected



Part 3 – How is friendship the most accurate reflection of the gospel?


Friendship is God’s agelong quest

Moses: God spoke face to face as friend – Exo 33.11

David: Man after God’s own heart – Act 13.22

Abraham: Friend of God – James 2.23, Isa 41.8

Enoch: Walked with God – Gen 5.24, Heb. 11.5

Apostles: Call you friends – John 15.13-15


Those that seek the gospel only as a love relationship and not first as a friendship 

Are seeking a pagan version of the gospel. 


(It is no wonder that pagan religions were/are overwhelmingy erotic and senusal.)


They want to be loved by God (like all love-deprived, desperate people want) 

not to be at one (atonement) with God – share his interests, his objectives


Allow me to use a metaphor draw from current events:

They want to ‘defund God’ 

Call for his protection, but not submit to his authority


A Biblical marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with us

While that relationship is described as a marriage

It is founded first on friendship, true friendship

– A fellowship predicated on shared values and objectives


Jesus did not die for the bride as the bride, 

but as her friend to be his bride


Jesus spends 1/3 of the gospel of John, bringing us into the fellowship of his values

so that we could truly be his friends


Example: Make us one: (Jesus prayer to the Father – John 17)

Jn 17.17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

1) One in commitment (to the truth) v.17 

2) One in commission (to the world) v.18

3) One in consecration (to God) v.19


“if you keep my commandments” is egregiously misunderstood

Does not mean keep to be friends

Not “Do what I say or I won’t let you be my friend…”

It means that his friends, by definition of ‘friendship’ keep his com.

Friendship is common interests, activities, and pursuits

Friendship with Christ isn’t an arbitrary prize for obedience

Obedience’ is the consequence of true friendship

Jesus is redefining (anthorism) the word

– This is a common rhetorical device used by Jesus and the Apostles

e.g. The work of God is to believe

Taking a term (and concept) that they understand well (servants/obedience)

and recasting it into a new paradigm that they had no experience with

We are not supposed to fixate on the normal implication of “obedience”

But rather how radically different the new paradigm is

and how has fulfilled in most unexpected & complete way the objective


“Obedience” is being redefined away from “Doing what you are told”

To “acting willfully in tandem with another”


It is the inevitable and unavoidable result of ‘oneness’ 

We ‘keep his Com.’ as a natural consequence of ‘oneness’

not as a burden or drudgery to be granted friendship


The gospel is not just that Jesus saves us, as a husband giving his life for the church

Nor that we reciprocated and serve him, as a wife reverencing her husband


The gospel is that Jesus befriends us, 

communicating (imparting) his passion, his interest, his reasoning, his mind 


We have the mind of Christ – 1 Cor 2.16


The gospel transforms our minds (renews them) 

so that we share Christ’s interests and become his friends


It is this friendship of values, fellowship of beliefs 

Makes sacrifice and reverence obvious, expected, & surprisingly unremarkable


Our marriages will never reflect this friendship, not perfectly


But Jesus models it perfectly.


He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.


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