Monday, August 20, 2007

Innuendo in the Frendship

One anonymous reader of "Prudie's" column on manners and morals asks:
I'm a fiftysomething professional who has been very happily married for 25 years. My wife and I have been very good friends for 10 years with another couple with whom we share many interests. They are our best friends, and it would be difficult to lose them. The wife of this couple made several overtures last year, which I rebuffed with as much joviality as I could muster, followed by a feigned chuckle. I didn't mention this to my wife at the time, but did tell her months later. This caused much distress. My wife wondered if the woman was just kidding and perhaps it all was more in my mind than in our friend's. Then last week, it happened again. I treated it lightheartedly again, but what now? Should I mention it to my wife? Should I tell the woman that's it, we're done, we're out of here? Should I say, "I love you as a dear, dear friend, but please stop?" At this point, she could say, "What, you thought I was serious? Interested in you?"


The Reformed Boor suggests:

Scripture says "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." (I Corinthians 15:33) It seems clear from your letter that this woman is not a genuine temptation to you at this time. Nevertheless, her cavalier attitude toward adultery is something that is a negative influence on you.

Obviously, it is not necessary to terminate your friendship for every imperfection. Nevertheless, if you have a friendship with the couple, you should do what you would want your friends to do: you should exhort this woman to persist from ribald innuendo. Explain that adultery is something serious, not a matter to be joked about. Adultery is a particularly grave sin: under Moses' administration it was punished by death.

If your exhortation is successful, your friends should be thankful that you have assisted them as they were going astray. If your exhortation is unsuccessful, it is likely that the woman will - in any event - stop making those jokes with you. If her response is that you take sin too seriously, you should ask yourself whether friendship with this woman requires a division of your loyalty to God. If so, you should step back from the friendship.

You also should consider whether you have a duty to tell the woman's husband about the woman's comment. Again, the analysis should probably proceed by considering whether (under the circumstances) if your own wife acted the same way, you would prefer to know or not. If so, you should tell the woman's husband. After all, her husband is ultimately in a better position to give her advice on her moral behavior than you are.

May God give us wisdom in our dealings with others,


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