Author: Joshua D. Jones
Publication Date: 22nd July, 2015
Price: $7.05 / =N=1404.78
This is a book that I have been very happy to read. To be clear, I got a free e-copy of this book so I could do a review and it has been an enlightening experience. I initially hoped to put up my review within two weeks of receiving my copy but that thought changed when I began to read and I’ll explain why. I must say now that I believe you should read this book. Yes, you!
The premise of Forbidden Friendships is that true, non-romantic intergender friendships are possible, healthy and can be very helpful on our Christian journey. This is a concept that I have always believed in but of course, not everyone agrees. A lot of ‘opposers’ of this belief are in the church and like the author goes on to explain, in some instances there are very specific rules in ‘Christian institutions’ that aim to prevent and or limit interaction between both genders as a means to prevent sexual sin and maintain integrity. This is very true and I’m sure a lot of my Nigerian folk will agree with me.
The author has done a fine job here and I say this in reference to my earlier statement. I simply could not read this book within a few days and put up my review. I was forced to pause, think and then re-evaluate my opinions on true friendship. I kept going through the chapters over and over. Sure, I believe in mixed gender friendships but how much of that is as a result of my own personal conviction, scripture or environment? Have I really thought about the importance or relevance of mixed friendships to my growth as a christian? I think not. That is one reason this book has been such an eye opener. Are my thoughts really my own? Why do we believe the things we do? We, as christians, are challenged to think deeply and face matters that we may naturally shy away from or refuse to address. We are the light of the world. It is time we shine and show the world how to live by the way we live and love. Afterall, God is love.
As believers in Christ, the Bible should be our manual just as the Holy Spirit guides us. Why then do a lot of christians choose not to consult scripture in relation to friendship as they would other matters and then put up boundaries that may hinder what may have turned out to be a very purposeful and rich relationship? How much do the opinions of our Christian leaders influence our friendships or lack thereof? A lot of these questions and more are extensively explored in the book with several examples of amazing non-romantic intergender friendships cited. I have to admit that I had never heard about some of the latter and had to do some research on them. History has been a marvellous teacher. This book honestly explores the pros and cons of intergender friendships; can men and women really be friends?
Although a lot of the examples given are of the western church, I could draw parallels between them and churches here in Nigeria. The author has touched on a topic that affects the christian community as a whole irrespective of physical location. As much as the author advocates healthy intergender relationships, he doesn’t negate the necessity of self-imposed boundaries in certain instances or the reality of sin and temptation. The message within is very realistic of the times and applicable. The timing of this book could not have been better; there is so much confusion and tension in Christendom today and frankly, I believe understanding and cultivating healthy relationships will go a long way in healing the church as opposed to destroying its integrity.
If you, as a single or married christian, have ever been or still are uncomfortable being friends (not friendly) with the opposite gender for whatever reason, this book is for you. As a matter of fact, while the author explains the advantages of intergender friendships, the beauty and importance of same gender friendships is in no way diminished. It actually emphasizes how necessary all these relationships are to chrisian growth and fulfilment. Forbidden Friendships is written in a way that causes us to look at friendship, even same gender ones, in a whole new light. I would say if that happens, the purpose of this book has been served and rightly so.
You can get copies of this book on Amazon and Goodreads. It is definitely worth reading.