Over at Christianity Today, they’re asking a provocative question: why can’t men be friends?
As a single person, I acutely need intimacy and loyalty from my friends. I’m eager for them to say to me, “We love you because you’re ours,” without leaving an escape clause. Part of the reason I need that kind of friendship is because I don’t think marriage is in my future. I’m gay, and also committed to the traditional Christian view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. When I contemplate a lifetime of celibacy, I know I want committed friends who will walk beside me on the journey.
What I’m yearning for isn’t just a weekly night out or circle of people with whom to vacation. If marriage offers husband and wife the opportunity to cultivate long-term fidelity and the quiet intimacy of a shared history—the opportunity to witness each other’s “moments of being,” to use Virginia Woolf’s resonant phrase—then I need a way of being single that affords me a similar (though not identical) opportunity.
I need people who know what time my plane lands, who will worry about me when I don’t show up when I say I will. I need people I can call and tell about that funny thing that happened in the hallway after class. I need to know that, come hell or high water, a few people will stay with me, loving me in spite of my faults and caring for me when I’m down. More, I need people for whom I can care. As a friend of mine put it, you want someone for whom you can make soup when she’s sick, not just someone who will make soup for you when you’re sick.
As a single person, I feel these needs with a special poignancy. But these needs aren’t limited to single people. I know two married couples in their 20s who recently decided to share a large house together. One of the couples has a small child, and the wife of the other couple said to me, “Living together, I see more clearly how raising kids was never meant to be something two parents do on their own.” Being a young mother or father can be among the most isolating experiences in our fragmented culture. And what young parents need—perhaps above all—is the devotion of close friends who won’t bail when the dirty diapers and spit-up and nighttime cries are overwhelming.