Doing some study the other day, I started thinking about the relationship between intimacy and naming. We are told that God, "knows us by name". People who brag about their relationships with well known people are known as "name droppers". There is power in names and in naming.
When you look at the people in the Bible, their names reflected who they are. Israelites took on the name of an underdog fighting for respectability, and in many ways that was the identity they took on as a nation. When people's lives changed, they took on new names.
You see many women who refuse to change their names when they get married, because to do so they feel would subordinate them to someone else. (Even though in many cases the name they keep by the same logic is simply their father's instead of their husband's name.)
And, refusing to share your name or giving a false name is a denial of intimacy and openness often times. I heard someone decribe this phenomenon with exotic dancers. Their physical exposure and relationship with you give you the illusion of intimacy, but they give you a false name. And online this is even the case. Whether through instant message screen names, or blogging personas people relate through a false name often times. Friar for me is a nickname. Clint is my name. You can call me either. I had met a person in the blogosphere that felt like a friend, but refused to share his name. He tried to make me feel bad for asking, like it was an attack or something. And then he turned out playing with those of us who got to know him, and then left. I still feel stupid for believing the lie.
The same is true with relationships. That is why the dreaded DTR conversation is important, even if it is a pain in the butt. We don't need to label people and put them in boxes, but there is something very important and very human about naming relationships. So we name them with labels like friend, husband, wife, mom, aunt or uncle (even when they are not blood relations),and even the name pastor is a label of a type of intimacy and relationship.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said, "I now call you friends.