Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I have a very close friend of the opposite gender and we love each other as friends; and we've spoken about keeping our friendship pure. We've become very close and we sometimes hug. Although neither of us feels lust, I wonder if what we are doing is wrong.

What you are doing is playing with fire. Examine where this relationship is leading you. You have started as regular friends; then you love each other 'as friends'; then you have become 'very close' that you sometimes 'hug'. Can you see the trend? The next is going to be a little kiss on the cheeks and so on. Do not let the devil trick you; and beware of desires and temptation "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:15). Keep you distance, and ask yourself where this friendship is leading you. If you are not ready for marriage and cannot make a commitment at the present time; I advise you to withdraw from this relationship before lust overtakes.
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