Joel and I like to tease each other, poke fun at each other, and generally harass each other. He’s, in sum, a friend. But he’s more than a friend, he’s a mature adult who is capable of remaining a friend even when we actually disagree on a matter beyond the mutual harassment.
In particular, unlike some of my erstwhile friends (in name only, it turns out), Joel is able to accept the fact that we differ on the issue of homosexuality and yet remain mature in his interactions with me on it and on other issues.
What this shows is that Joel is an actual friend, and for that I respect, admire, and love him.
Adults are supposed to be able to be civil to one another and accepting of opposing points of view without acting like school-kids who fancy that one can only be friends with others when there is agreement on every issue. Except even school-kids don’t actually practice that sort of exclusionary pettiness.
Joel and I don’t have to agree on the question of homosexuality to be friends because our friendship isn’t based on narrow self interest. Instead, it is based on common goals (the propagation of accurate biblical scholarship and mutual support in that quest).
I give thanks to God each day for true friends. I’ve been fortunate to have a fairly substantial number. And oddly, none of my friends agree with every viewpoint I hold and I don’t agree with every viewpoint they hold. And, for us, because we’re mature adults, that’s ok.
Ben Sira had it right:
φίλου πιστοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀντάλλαγμα καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν σταθμὸς τῆς καλλονῆς αὐτοῦ (Sir 6:15).
Joel is such a friend.