Only two episodes left in season one of Friends. In the second-to-last episode, The One With the Birth, Ross becomes a dad. But, before he experiences the joy of holding his son, he gets thrust into a biblical lesson.

Ross and Susan are both by Carol’s (Ross’s ex) side as she is laboring through contractions. Instead of helping Susan, they are bickering and arguing over every detail. Carol eventually kicks them out. Their long-held resentment has rendered each more of a nuisance than a help to Carol.

Their bickering continues in the hallway, so Pheebs (playing the symbolic roll of Spirit/God) steps in:

Phoebe: Hey, hey, ok, all right, that’s it! Get in here. Come on. You guys, I don’t believe you. There are children coming into the world in this very building and your negative fighting noises are not the first thing they should be hearing. So just stop all the yelling, just stop it!… Don’t make me do this again, I don’t like my voice like this.

Jesus said, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him — work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (Matthew 18:15-20 MSG.) Pheebs, our symbolic Spirit/God figure, gets Ross and Carol locked in a closet where they are forcefully untied into the same goal — get out of the closet so they don’t miss the birth of the baby. Lots of hurtful and bitter words are thrown out, but eventually they get to the core of the issue:

[Scene: The Broom Closet, Ross is trying to open the door with a credit card, with no success.]

Ross: Come on, come on.

Susan: I think you’re doing it too hard.

Ross: You have to do it hard or else it doesn’t… (his credit card breaks) Damnit, damnit, damnit, damnit. (to Susan) This is all your fault. This is supposed to be, like, the greatest day of my life, you know? My son is being born, and I should be in there, you know, instead of stuck in a closet with you.

Susan: The woman I love is having a baby today. I’ve been waiting for this just as much as you have.

Ross: No no no, believe me. No one has been waiting for this as much as I have, ok? And you know what the funny thing is? When this day is over, you get to go home with the baby, ok? Where does that leave me?

Susan: You get to be the baby’s father. Everyone knows who you are. Who am I? There’s Mother’s Day, there’s Father’s Day, there’s no… Lesbian Lover Day.

Ross: Every day is Lesbian Lover Day.

Phoebe: This is so great.

Ross: You wanna explain that?

Phoebe: I mean, well, ’cause when I was growing up, you know my dad left, and my mother died, and my stepfather went to jail, so I barely had enough pieces of parents to make one whole one. And here’s this little baby who has like three whole parents who care about it so much that they’re fighting over who gets to love it the most. And it’s not even born yet. It’s just, it’s just the luckiest baby in the whole world. (pause) I’m sorry, you were fighting.

Symbolically, Ross and Susan have done what Jesus calls us to do when we have a grievance with someone else. We are to lovingly confront the issue, keeping Christ at the center, and work to bring peace. The best part is, when we bring Christ into our conflicts, he shows us the big picture which brings about unity. Here Pheebs serves that function by pointing out that what matters is that this baby is so loved they are fighting over who gets to love him more. Most children don’t have that. Though Susan and Ross have their differences they have one thing in common: they love that baby boy.

I think we can take this lesson and branch out into the church. There are many denominations that follow Christ. We haven’t always gotten along or seen eye-to-eye, but there is one thing we have in common—we all love that baby boy who was born in a manger and would one day give his life so we may live. If we can focus on that, I believe, we can unite as Christ asked us to.

Susan: No shouting, but we still need a name for this little guy.

Ross: (thinking) How ’bout Ben?

Susan: I like Ben.

Carol: Ben. Ben. Ben’s good. How come you never mentioned Ben before?

Ross: We uh, we just cooked it up.

Susan: That’s what we were off doing.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” ~ Jesus, John 17:20-21 ESV

Let’s find the common love and unite for the sake of the One we love.


**Transcripts from