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You're My Best friend


This is my love, and this is my friend.
-Song 5:16

Who is your best friend?  I have had many best friends in my life, beginning with my brother.  I have  thoroughly enjoyed my friends.

Today my best friend is my wife.


Friendship

Friendship in the Bible is defined as an affection and love between two people.  The affection begins with association:  he/she is a associate.  This then progresses into loyalty: a bond forms wherein that person becomes a part of your life, a special person to you that you care about, do things for & with, and spend time with.  Finally, this can progress to having an affectionate bond between us.

We can be friendly to everyone and there are people who are so friendly, that we say that they are "everyone's friend".  But friendship comes about through mutuality: both people have to desire friendship with the other, for a bond of friendship to come about.  It is like dating: one invites and the other responds or chooses not to and a friendship begins or continues, or it does not.

We have times when there is not mutuality and a friendship does not grow.  Also, it is notable that the majority of friendships fade or end.  The association that brought you together might change or end; and you realize that the loyal bond was based on that original association.  When the association ends or changes, the loyalty weakens, and the affection fades; and "a best friend" shifts to being just "a friend" and might go out of focus completely, transitioning to "a former close friend" that we eventually become estranged from.

Estrangement

A stranger is someone you don't know and estrangement is when you transition from close to distant or friend to stranger.  Many of us can recall people we used to speak with every day or very often, to who we have not spoken or seen for a year or a decade or decades.  We usually do not have a "going away party" and have a last goodbye with a best friend, but instead a shift happens and the friendship changes and fades.

Friendshifts

Friendships shift and are often lost when associations change.  Another dimension that affects association is that we outgrow certain friendships.  If the friendship was centered around something you have outgrown, but your friend still lives there, it might be hard to relate.

We are all designed to grow and we mostly grow at different rates and in different ways.  A friendship's association may be very good in that we are both growing and encouraging one another, or one of us may be ahead of the other and in a mentoring role that is enjoyed by both of us.  But eventually there is a state where it is not 'working'.  

If the friendship was heavily based on the association and possibly the loyalty that was garnered out of the mutual enjoyment and the association shifts, then the the friendship must shift or die.  The shift is into just enjoying one another's company.  This is hard when the roots and the history of that friendship were always that previous association.

An example might be becoming friends in a transitional, and perhaps crisis laden time of your life.  When the crisis is past, can we still be friends?  The friendship will have to shift into the unconditional love of just enjoying another's company and sharing life together.

General, Special, and Best Friends

We can generally address people as friends, because we want to be friendly and associated with them.  When I give a speech, I might say, "friends, family, and loved ones", and I am calling out associations that people in my audience have with one another.  But when I speak, and say to an audience, of whom are many strangers to me, "friend...", I am speaking to them as an acquaintance/associate.

We can call many people friends, because there is an association there.  We might introduce someone as our "new friend", meaning that we just met because of some association.  But, these are not close friends or best friends; although they have that possibility of becoming one.

Bad Friends

Jesus called Judas, "friend".  When we hear that scene, we might gasp, because Judas is betraying him.  Have you ever been betrayed, by a friend?

Betrayal usually only happens among friends, because the association is the doorway, and the more loyalty and affection that previously existed, the deeper and more painful that betrayal is.  Betrayal is real and it hurts.

Other pitfalls in friendship are when 'friends' are really 'fake friends', people pretending to be your friend, perhaps for some ulterior motive, but they are really not your friend.  Someone who really is your true friend, might intervene and strongly encourage you, saying, "____ is not your friend!"

Friendships are tarnished when we loan a friend money and they do not or can not pay it back.  Friendships are ruined when we gossip about a friend.  Friendships are weakened when we do not show loyalty and affection for a friend when they are wounded in life.  We call people "fair weather friends", who are only around when things are fun and easy.

Jesus' Definition of Best Friend

Jesus said that the highest form of friendship is when we lay our lives down for our friends (John 15).  He said that we demonstrate that we are his friends when we are obedient to his commands.  He invites us all into a friendship, where we serve him and know him.

Best Friends in Marriage

Now, what about friendship in marriage?  Is your spouse supposed to be your best friend, or does marriage surpass and glide above friendship?  Can you have that exclusive romantic relationship with your spouse and have them be your best friend, and does that mean that we can be missing something if we don't have a best friendship with our wife or husband?

In the Bible, we have this verse, Song of Solomon 5:16, that is a statement that makes the suggestion that there is the possibility of being in a relationship filled with adoration, romantic love, unabashed sexual feelings that desire fulfillment, and authentic friendship.
His mouth is sweetness. He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem.
Do we dismiss this as part of the starry-eyed infatuation that this woman is experiencing, or embrace it as a bold fact, that breaks new ground for lovers, and is divinely inspired scripture revealing to us the depths of a relationship between a woman and a man who have become a couple?

Do we exclusively interpret this verse and the whole of this book as an allegory of God's or Christ's love for his people?  No.

I believe that it is both.  The relationship between a man and a woman is actually a reflection of God's love for his people.

This Hebrew word here for friend,  "rea", רֵ֫עַ, ("ray'-ah"), falls into the Biblical definition of association, companionship, neighbor, fellowship, another, and friend.  And in the Bible, the word neighbor is much richer than we often use it and has to do with community and relationship; rather than houses, condos, apartments, property lines, walls, fences, and stick figures of people we really don't know and might wave at, as we drive by, with our car's windows up.

The Context Usually Defines The Depth of a Friendship

Friendship in the Bible, is pretty much defined by the larger context.  I can say that Peter, James, and John were Jesus' best friends; because of the extra time and experiences they had with him.

John was Jesus' very best friend, because of how John identifies himself as, "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  John displayed special affection for Jesus, and was a bit more loyal than the others, when Jesus suffered on the cross.  And Jesus asked John to take care of his mom, when he was dying.

In the context of The Song of Solomon, with all the adoration, respect, romance, and sexuality expressed through the larger story; this lady exclaims, "And he is my friend!"  To me, this implies that two people can have a good marriage, but lack the best friendship.  And I think it was that way then and is that way now.  Friendship is the great "And" in a marriage.

Some quotes and notes on this revelation from three theologians:

  • Friendship goes far deeper goes than mere sexual compatibility and excitement.  Happy is the husband or wife whose spouse is also a friend. -G. LLoyd Carr
  • The Song of Solomon is unabashedly erotic. Yet it is never satisfied to be content with the physical alone. A normal person finds the erotic ultimately meaningful only if there is trust and commitment, delight in the other's person as well as in their body. The writer of the Song understands this. Our hero is her lover, but he is more: he is her friend. -D. F. Kinlaw
  • With this ringing declaration the woman expresses not only her love and commitment but the depth of their relationship.  Her beloved is not any man whom she finds desirable - he is her friend.  This speaks of an intimacy and a sharing, an engagement that goes beyond and yet is expressed by physical closeness.  Certainly, there is intimate friendship manifested as erotic passion at work, but the passion arises out of deep love, understanding and commitment to the other.  The love is entirely mutual, the love of two equals:                                                                                                                                        "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine ..." (6:3)                                                                                                                                                                                         We have here no idea of female subservience to the male, but two equal human beings who have found true love.  -Peter Vardy

My love and my friend

I have had many dear best friends, starting with my very special brother.  And it is my goal and passion to be a friend of God and like John, Jesus' best friend.  But it is also my great desire and joy, to be best friends with my wife.  I want to adore her, romance her, respect her, support her, champion her, mentor her, protect her, affirm her, facilitate her, sacrificially love her, and be her best friend.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My Best Friend, by John Deacon (Queen)

Ooh you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me
It's you you're all I see
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live
Ooh you're the best friend that I ever had
I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you're my best friend

Ooh you make me live

Ooh I've been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You've stood by me girl
I'm happy at home
You're my best friend

Ooh you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live

You're the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I'll never be lonely
You're my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
Ooh you're my best friend

Ooh you make me live

I'm happy at home
You're my best friend
Oh you're my best friend
Ooh you make me live
You're my best friend





_______________________________
Bibliography:  

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1:254-60
C.S. Lewis: The Four Loves
Jacalyn Eyre, Faithfulness: The Foundation of True Friendship
G. Lloyd Carr, Song of Solomon
D. F. Kinlaw, Song of Solomon
P. Vardy, The Puzzle of Sex

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