Sibling friendship is a countercultural notion. TV shows, movies, and books rarely portray siblings as allies. Sibling rivalry has been elevated from an occasional challenge to the cultural norm.
Under this norm, parents function as referees and judges—breaking up fights, assigning blame, and steering siblings to leave each other alone. But the Bible indicates that siblinghood (both spiritual and physical) consists of more than simply tolerating each other.
I’ve been pondering Proverbs 18:24: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” True friendship is a gift of the rarest kind. When the writer of Proverbs wants us to conceive of the deepest form of friendship, he says, in essence, “Imagine a depth of friendship that exceeds even that between siblings.” He points to siblinghood as the gold standard.
I came to parenthood with no vision for my children to be friends. I grew up the only girl among four brothers, and “adversarial” does not come close to capturing the dynamic among us. Our fights explored the full range of verbal, physical, and psychological aggression. We loved each other, but we didn’t really learn to like each other until later in life.
By contrast, my husband has called his sister, Emily, his best friend for his whole life. At first, I thought he must be lying. But there was evidence—pictures of them holding hands (holding hands!) on a trip to Disney as teenagers, full-body hugging at a family gathering, and heading to a dance together her senior year when she didn’t have a date.
I wanted to scoff, to say they were a statistical anomaly. But I also wanted to hope: What if Jeff and ...1