Friendship and Suffering

Substitution or Recapitulation?

The substitutionary model says Christ suffered so we don’t have to. The Orthodox perspective is that Christ identified with humanity so we could partake of His divinity. Christ suffered so we could know how to suffer and not be broken.

He identified with humanity in both its sympathies and antipathies. In other words, He experienced the suffering and joys that are part of being human. Through this He was able to absorb suffering and shape it toward goodness. His divinity united with humanity provides a way of redemption for us as we partake of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This is the new and living way talked about in Hebrews 10:19-20. In the substitutionary model redemption is an abstraction, but with recapitulation we have to participate in it.

Surprisingly, these fine points of theology impact our relationships. The way most people carry on relationships is to link with others on sympathies and negotiate the antipathies (to keep at bay the negative realities of the human experience). But true friendship embraces both the sympathies and antipathies and identifies with the other in a total life communion.

We want our cake and eat it too

I don’t want to be lonely, but I want to remain independent of you and not be changed in any way by our communion. We embrace a lie and try to conduct relationships that are products of our imagination rather than those that reflect who we really are in all our humanity.

You can’t be whatever you want to be. We have to embrace our own createdness and the createdness of others in order to truly love. Friendships based solely on sympathies are not really friendships at all, but only convenient arrangements of mutual pleasure.