“But it need not be so. Christ has come, and has breathed on us his Spirit to make us human again. We ought therefore to hope for — and to show within the fellowship of Christ’s redeemed a model of — a kind of human closeness that is deeper than and is not dependent upon the exchange of seminal fluids. If sexual intercourse finds its only proper place in the male-female pair bound together in covenant and open to procreation, then our natural desire for human closeness — even perhaps physical closeness — must properly be consummated in something other than sex. What if this is friendship?
This would make sense eschatologically. As Fr. Austin pointed out, we tend to think of the phrase “till death us do part” as meaning “forever.” But that is exactly what it does not mean. Christians don’t believe that death is the end of our story as human beings, but rather the door from our brief earthly existence into our everlasting glory in the world to come. “Till death us do part” in the marriage vow means that marriage ends at that door. But friendship doesn’t. “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Friendship realizes what is highest and truest about us: that we exist for an eternal friendship with God and with one another in God. And this friendship is nowhere more clearly manifested, at least on this side of heaven, than in the Holy Communion, where we bring our souls and bodies to feast together with our friends at a table where Christ is the host. Perhaps this is actually the highest grace, not only of the soul, but of the body as well: to share a meal with our friends. Perhaps this is where our good and natural desire for human intimacy finds its consummation.”
Mac Stewart, “I Have Called You Friends.” Covenant, 9 Dec. 2015