The following is a post by my friend Ann White. We both decided to take a topic and write our opinions on the subject without consulting the other. So to see my opinion on Friendlationships, click here. We might have to do this guest blogging thing again - it's kinda fun.

"So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female he created them."
-Genesis 1:27

At the pinnacle of God's creative work, he created man and woman, and together they are a reflection of his image. I don't think I begin to understand the depth to which male and female combine, compliment, and come together to produce this union that reflects the fullness of the Lord.

But.. one of the wisest sentiments I've ever heard is that for every good gift the Lord gives us, Satan has produced a counterfeit.

The fact is that the general American population is waiting longer to get married. There are many advantages to that, but there are also pitfalls. Despite the fact that we are waiting until we're older to get married, we still have an innate drawing for that type of relational (not to mention physical) intimacy that a member of the opposite sex provides.

Same sex friendships are so important and I believe is where a lot of our character is formed and foundation laid. Friendships with the opposite sex are also so critical. We can learn how to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters in Christ and experience some level of the balance that men and women were designed to strike together.

But like I mentioned before, for every good thing God gives us, Satan manipulates. Enter the friendlationship. This term is used to describe an increasingly common phenomenon where boundaries become confused in male/female friendships. I will admit that this is an area that I have screwed up more than my fair share of times.

Slowly and in small ways, male/female relationships can go from healthy to inappropriate. And by that I don't necessarily mean physically inappropriate, but perhaps the more dangerous emotionally inappropriate. Emotional inappropriateness can take many forms, ranging the span of all our human frailties: co-dependency, selfishness, jealousy, idolatry.

The keys to avoiding these pitfalls seem trite and cliche, but they're all too true- prayer, honesty, communication, self-discipline and restraint. Respecting and loving one another appropriately is one of the most basic and difficult lessons of life, and relationships with the opposite sex that seek to remain holy and righteous are a gift of an opportunity that God gives us to learn and grow.


Boondock Saints

Last night I watched the movie Boondock Saints with my friend Kari. It was a fascinating and entertaining film. Granted it was late, so I fell asleep about ten times, but what I saw I thoroughly enjoyed. And between saying the f-word more times than I've heard in the past year in under two hours, the movie had an interesting question to offer: is it ok for vigilantes to take justice into their own hands as long as the people they are killing are universally accepted as evil?

But I am ahead of myself. The plot goes like this: Two guys, we are led to believe they are deeply spiritual, hear the voice of God one day that tells them to avenge the helpless in the world by killing the wicked. This is their "calling", if you will. So they begin attacking some of the big players in the Russian and Italian mafia with their sidekick, "The Funny Man". By the end of the story they have become local heroes, and are dubbed "The Saints" for their "laudable actions".

The people they kill are undoubtedly the wickedest men in the city they live in. I must have fallen asleep when they mentioned the town name, but I'm thinking Boston. And so we are left with the ethical dilemma - are their actions justified? These aren't vigilantes with a questionable cause. Everyone would agree that the men they killed at the minimum deserved life-sentences in prison, if not capital punishment. But because of the power these men held, getting them in prison by law enforcement is a near impossible task. So the Saints simplify the process.

During my days of religiously watching Law and Order I always sided with Jack McCoy who believed that justice was for the courts. If we allowed others to dole out justice, our system would eventually crumble and anarchy would ensue. Or so his line of reasoning would lead us to believe. This belief was so black and white, that even in the case of the Boondock Saints, he would still think that why their deeds were necessary they still needed to be punished.

After some thought, I'm going to have to say that I still agree with Jack. While the Saints killed people that would be thought of as evil by all of society, letting people carry out the law in their own hands would ultimately lead to chaos. The reason is that punishment is still an arbitrary question after a certain point. Sure, we all think rapists, child molesters, human traffickers all prey on the helpless but we all have our own opinions too. What if my family was robbed, and I suddenly viewed theft as a crime worthy of capital punishment? What gives me the right to decide what is truly evil beyond the universal laws?

Those are some of my thoughts. They aren't worthy of scrutiny in court, that's for sure. What do you think?