I am grateful to my husband, Jeff Falls for writing here and thinking with me about this important question. I will further delve into the subject, but would like to let his post lay the groundwork for who we are and where we come from.Peace be with you!
by Jeffery Falls
My underlying assumptions:
1. I am not Cicero
2. Sanctification is our Earthly goal and all endeavors hereon should have that purpose in mind.
3. All friendships should be Christ-centered. No exceptions. See 2, above.
4. There are two categories of women with whom I should develop intimate friendships:
a. My wife
b. The Saints
5. The Enemy hates our guts.
All are free to reject these assumptions at the outset, in which case no further reading is necessary. One does so, however, only at great risk to his eternal soul.
I married my best friend. I don’t mean that in the 21st century cliché way. I married a beautiful woman, for whom I had great affection. When we met I had a few “best friends” already. I had served in the Marines and taught personal protection for a number of years and had developed several very close friendships in those contexts. Since then, I have carefully cultivated a friendship with my wife based upon mutual trust, with the goal of getting her into Heaven. She has become my best friend. I married my one-time fiancé, who transformed into my best friend on Earth.
I don’t have other close female friends. My tone with other women, whether connected to them socially or professionally, is friendly but, admittedly, aloof. I don’t share secrets with them. I don’t invest myself in their private lives. My wife can be confident that if another woman knows something about me, that she, as my wife, knew it first. There is no cause for me to establish intimacy with any female who is not my spouse. Our inner lives are the specific purview of our spouses. When we allow someone else of the opposite sex access to those lives, especially to the exclusion of our wives and husbands, we are denying our marriages the fuel that they need to thrive. The preservation of our marriages requires constant, intentional focus. We must assign our marriages to the most sacred of places in our heart and vigorously guard them from outside influences that would exploit chinks in their armor. We must eliminate those weak spots.
I can hear the rebuttals now.
To those voicing them let me say that one need not be a lust-indulging eye wanderer or jealousy-stricken henpecker for this principle to apply. It is in the very nature of Fallen Man to be susceptible to the slow erosion of moral uprightness by laziness and inattention. In a prelapsarian universe the above notion may not be true. That’s not our world. Sin in insidious. Sin is just fine with moving slowly. If we are not careful, that slow movement becomes, but for the grace of reconciliation, inexorable. If marriage is our vocation, and our relationship with our spouse the most valuable we will ever have with another human, then we must do all that we can to prevent the Enemy from establishing a toe-hold in our matrimonial lives.
We must not allow the world, which has convinced most that equality means sameness, to dictate the conditions of our relationships. As a man, I need close friendships with other men; “iron sharpens iron,” and all that. My wife does not. As a woman, my wife needs female confidantes. But I don’t. When I say that we need friends of the same gender, I’m not talking about outlets to complain about our marriages or spouses. That’s why we have spouses. I’m talking about relationships that have Christ at the center, with the purpose of building up and holding accountable one another in the Faith. I’m talking about purposeful connections where an unambiguous conversation has taken place regarding whys and wherefores. I’m advocating for living more intentionally Christian lives.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the word “friendship” only seventeen times. They’re all worth a read.
Thank you to the readers of the Spicy Catholic blog and to all of Victoria’s friends who follow her @spicycatholic in the twitterverse. You’re a constant help to her.
For more of me and my (infrequent) musings you can read my blog here and follow me @sergeantfalls.