I’m currently taking a class entitled “Gender Issues in Counseling” and we were assigned to read a book that is specifically addressed to the opposite gender. So all the men in the class read a book that was written with a woman audience in mind. All the women read a book written for men. It’s a way to hear what is being written on the popular broadly evangelical level for specific genders. Usually these books are minimally helpful and perpetuate issues between the genders. However, I think I chose a pretty decent book. It is called Unseduced and Unshaken: The Place of Dignity in a Young Woman’s Choices.

I could list a whole bunch of quotes from the book that I find to be incredibly insightful or even convicting, but I was delighted to read a few places in which they really focus on the importance of friendship in one’s life. I couldn’t agree more and it has been somewhat of a soapbox issue for me in times past. We devalue the role of intimate friendships and idolize the marriage relationship. Anyway, here’s a brief passage from the book that I liked:

Yet, ironically and sadly, if anything, friendship is undervalued and even suspected at times. The broader American culture and the evangelical subculture have almost made a god of marriage and family; young people are pressured early to “get going” in this direction. One of my students said, “We’re told generally that it’s important to have friends, but no one talks about the value of lasting friendships.” She added, “Everyone talks about ‘authentic community’ but the specific benefits of friendship are not included in the discussion.” In fact, as another young woman noted, “friendship is not even addressed; everything else seems to be more important.” It is no wonder then that one often sees women diminishing, neglecting, and even dropping their friendships with other women for the sake of their dating lives, putting a pressure and expectation on the dating process it cannot sustain or may even be crippled by. How often I have heard girls tell me that they seldom see a good friend anymore because “she’s dating.” And too often, women accept that loss because it has come to seem appropriate, even expected. Friendship is sacrificed to the culturally prioritized romantic relationship, not appreciated for the inestimable contribution it makes to a fully realized life.

Affirming the problem, Eugene Peterson writes that “friendship is a much underestimated aspect of spirituality. It’s every bit as significant as prayer and fasting. Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy.” Peterson then refers to the much-addressed friendship between David and Jonathan and says that it was “essential to David’s life.” In fact, he adds, “It’s highly unlikely that David could have persisted in serving Saul without the friendship of Jonathan…. Jonathan’s friendship entered David’s soul in a way that Saul’s hatred never did.”

Friends have been true mirrors to me, showing me myself, reflecting back to me an ugly spot in my soul, and reminding me of something good I had thought or done when I couldn’t remember. Friends have told me the truth about a direction I was headed or a relationship I had chosen. They have brought me back from the brink of disaster. Friends have prayed for me faithfully when I was sick, when I was overwhelmed by too great a task. Friends have written notes at just the right time, made a phone call, or come for a visit. With friends I have had the great conversations of my life. Those friends have been younger, older, and my age; few of them have had the same education or occupation as I have. More than anything, my best friends have always been mutual, receiving and giving, listening and talking, and above all remembering—remembering what is important to me and asking the right questions. I am fortunate to have a number of friendships still present in my life that go back decades, some of them to my childhood, a number to my young adulthood. They call to mind my history, the geography of my life’s events, and more important, they preserve the map of my mind and spirit.”

De Rosset, Rosalie (2012-07-24). Unseduced and Unshaken: The Place of Dignity in a Young Woman’s Choices (Kindle Locations 2510-2532). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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