/ faithful friends / Bryan Schneider

Grieving the Death of Friendship

God has created us as social beings. He blessed humanity with an amazing capacity to love one another and share our lives with each other. He has hardwired us to need social interaction. Yes, there are introverts and extroverts. Not everyone needs the same levels of interaction. Yet, we were hardwired to need others, to share our lives with others. It is part of our makeup. The Triune God said, "Let us make man in our image." Our triune God made us to share our lives with one another. Jesus himself shared His life with His disciples. He called them friends (John 15:15).

Sadly, in our day, friendship is dying or dead. According to a survey in 2021, 76% of men don't have a close and trusted friend they can share anything with on any topic (Perspectives Survey by the Center on American Life). Why is that the case? Why has friendship been erased and loneliness on the rise? I'd like to suggest three culprits to the death of friendship in American culture.

Eroticism has Swallowed it Up

Our culture is obsessed with eroticism. This statement doesn't even need to be defended. The casting off of sexual restraint was bound to happen with Freudianism. We see the fruit of a psychology that defines us as sexually driven creatures. But, the rise of the self and self-expression has robbed us of the joy of friendship. How? Because the rise of eroticism and modern self-expression has also given rise to the domination of LGBTQIA+ conversations. One can't escape the constant drum of the conversation. Why? Because the plus (+) keeps growing. Everyone seems to be somewhere on the spectrum of sexual fluidity. This has led to the demise of friendships, especially same-sex friendships. Gone are the days when two men can go camping without speculation. Long gone are the days when two women can take a hike in the woods without someone wondering, "Are those two gay?" No more does it seem two friends can go to a restaurant to eat and drink and talk without thinking how people may be judging them. Platonic relationships have been swallowed up in eroticism.

One needs to look no further than the writings of queer theologians who cast shade on every biblical friendship. David and Jonathan must be gay. John resting on Jesus must be homoerotic. No, there is no place sacred. There is no place for friends to be friends. Friendship has been swallowed up in eroticism. Friends, we should grieve the death of friendship. We should champion its resurrection, especially within the church.

Rugged Individualism

I live in the Midwest. I live in a rural county. I live three miles down a gravel road. I live half a mile from my nearest neighbor. I live in the type of place where ruggedness can be idolized. It can be palpable at times. The American imagination is branded with the likes of John Wayne. We are a tough people. We love capitalism and the grit it takes to be successful. We take the dominion mandate seriously. We will conquer the unconquerable. By ourselves.

But, God himself knew this was not true. "It is not good for man to be alone." We need one another. I got to witness over the past few months as rugged individuals found themselves needing others. As a woman needed to get to the emergency room during a storm that left five-foot-high snowdrifts across the gravel road. It took neighbors who would warm up tractors in -30 degree weather to get her out. In the last month, we watched tornadoes demolish homes. Within hours there were neighbors there with tractors, trailers, skid loaders, and other heavy machinery to help. Friends came from miles around to help. Why? Because friends show up. Because God did not make us to leave us alone.

The Tyrant of Time

Let me end this essay with one last opinion. Friendship has been fading into the background as margin has been erased in our lives. We need to face the facts. We are just too busy for friendships. We are too busy with our own families to invest deeply in others. We are too busy with our lives to entertain strangers. We are too busy working or relaxing to want to do something together. We are too busy to listen. We are too busy to love. Friendship is costly. Friendship costs something you can never buy or earn: time. Friendship is giving away one of your most valuable commodities in life.

I am convinced this is also a symptom of the decline of Christianity in our culture. It is not pollyanish history to say that in previous generations we had a better sense of time. People knew how to stop working for at least one day a week. Sure, the industrialists wanted the furnaces constantly running, but the people yearned for time to rest. And, what was regularly included in that rest? Gathering. People gathered together for worship. Across denominations and sects, people seemed to inherently understand they needed to connect vertically and horizontally. As our culture has forsaken the vertical relationship with God, so have we begun to reap the death of horizontal relationships together.

Bryan Schneider

Bryan Schneider

Husband to Olivia. Father of Nathan, Deborah, Daniel, & Ellie. Blessed to serve Sharon RP Church (sharonrpc.org). Loving Rural life.

Read More