It occurred to me recently that I haven't written a post on eros and friendship in a while. Believe it or not, I continue to come across resources that reveal the changing face of eros, sexuality, and friendship. I understand for those you who identify as evangelicals it is a major shift for you to warm up to the idea of erotic possibilities in friendship. Many evangelicals continue to sexualize eros.
Since the last time I wrote specifically on eros, I've read David Jensen, Thomas Oord, Melinda Selmys, Thomas Moore, Evelyn and James Whitehead , Lina Andronoviené, and others. I'll be blogging on some of these further contributions to eros and friendship. They join a growing number of voices who testify to this mega-shift in eros, friendship, and sexuality.
My title comes right out of a new book by Evelyn Whitehead (a developmental psychologist) and her husband James Whitehead (a pastoral theologian) Frutiful Embraces: Sexuality, Love, and Justice . It has a chapter on friendship in it. Within that chapter they explore men and women as friends and they talk about "erotic possibilities" in friendship. The Whiteheads are respected Catholics who are prolific writers (14 books!) and are connected with the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago.
In a sub-section of the chapter with the sub-heading "Erotic Possibilities" they explore the erotic possiblities of friendship. Clearly understanding that sexual intimacy is one of the possibilities they also assert erotic possibilities for platonic friends:
"The erotic possibilities of friendship— the opportunities for closeness, affection, mutual support, delight, concern —are vast and complex... More often, friendship between women and men thrives in the decision to exclude sexual sharing...Both history and personal experience testify to the reality of significant emotional relationships in which genital sexuality has no part. Attraction and affection are strong , as are mutual concern and care. But the communion of these friendships does not include sexual sharing."