This coming Sunday we will pick back up on our sermon series, Relationship Goals: FORGIVE. In keeping with our focus, we have an opportunity to think deeply about the foundations of relationships. While there are several angles to this topic, let’s start with some basics in this conversation.
It is safe to say that we all want to be involved in healthy relationships. Here's a teaching point. Any time we use the word "healthy" in our vocabulary we are suggesting that something has an intentional design. There's a certain way something is supposed to work because it possesses the ability to be healthy. This logic points to an Intelligent Designer. Since we can speak of relationships being healthy, then we must consider the Intelligent Designer of relationships.
Theologically, relationships are categorized for humanity's good. They are designed in such a way that when we function within their intended framework, our deepest felt needs are actually met. Think on this for a moment. Consider what you desire most from your relationships. It is guaranteed that when we mutually engage relationships according to the way they were designed, we will actually receive what we desire most. It is only when we dehumanize one another, exploiting relationships that our deepest felt needs go unmet and we end up hurt, abused and alone. In light of this we must rightly define the purpose and context of relationships. Doing so will also help us further learn healthier ways for dating, courting and marrying.
What is the general purpose of relationships?
The purpose of relationships is rooted in whose image we bear...the Creator of the Universe. God is love and therefore his natural gesture in all that he does is to love. How does he love? He gives himself away for the good of humanity and his own glory. Seeing how we bear his image in the earth, we likewise are naturally built to give our lives away for the good of others and the display God's beauty.
So what's the proper context for this?
Paul, a biblical author gives us the wisdom of the Creator in 1 Timothy chapter 5. He is speaking to Christians, and encourages them in their conduct towards one another. He says that our conduct should be that of a family, love the older men as your father; the older women as your mother; the younger men as your brother and the younger women as your sister. This is the context of relationship that we (the Church) are given as wisdom in how we engage and love each other. In this I have been created to give my life away for your good as my father, mother, brother or sister depending upon the nature of the relationship. There is one more relational context that isn't specifically mentioned in this text but is insinuated due to the relational entity being family. That relational context is marriage. By God's biblical standard anytime we include a mother, father, a brother or sister it is assumed that there is a husband and wife relationship present. For within God's divine ideal, a husband and wife are necessary for the other persons to be present within the family structure.
Why is this relational context important?
The relational context is imperative because it means that we don't get to engage people any way we choose. We do not get to make relationships what we want them to be. We must root love rightly, seeing how we've defined it in God himself. By this we are rooting Love in a "who" (person) and not a "what" (behavior).
For the moment, let's conclude with this. There is a right and wrong way to engage relationships. The nature of the relationship rooted in a right definition of love being a "person (who)" and not a "behavior (what)" is fundamental to a healthy relationship; or shall we say the way God intentionally designed it. If we place this in the context of dating, then we will have something entirely different than what the culture has given us. This we will discuss in the next conversation on "Dating Redeemed" .