The UK retail chain Topshop commissioned a survey by a team of psychologists into their key customer demographic: Millennials (those born between 1981 and the early 2000s, and also known as Generation Y). They interviewed 800 people. The results were so startling that they did not believe them. They interviewed another 800 and got the same results.
The results portrayed an alarming picture of an increasingly lonely and lost generation. More people live alone than at any other point in our recorded social history. The average Facebook usage for Millennials is six-and-a-half hours a day. Many who were interviewed considered work to be something they fitted in between Facebook and lunch! They found people had a very large number of ‘friends’ but an increasing sense of loneliness.
There is nothing wrong with social media, but it is no substitute for real, face-to-face friendships. We were created for friendship with God (Genesis 3:8) and with one another (2:18).
Marriage is part of the solution to aloneness. Friendship, vital also in marriage, is a crucial part of the solution too. Jesus set an example of close friendship with men and women. He demonstrated that marriage is not the only solution to aloneness. In one respect, friendship is even more important than marriage. Marriage is temporary; friendship is eternal. ‘Friendship’, as C.S. Lewis writes, is the ‘crown of life and school of virtue’. Friendship multiplies joy and divides sorrow.
The Bible is very realistic. We see examples of relationships at their very best, but we also see examples of their frailty and failure. Through these examples and the teaching of the Bible we see three keys.