Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
In today’s world good relationships seem to be almost impossible to come by. We see broken families: single parents, abuse, neglect, and overt and rampant immoral sexual behavior. Concepts like love, respect, commitment, patience, forgiveness, compunction, and family seem to be almost nonexistent anymore or at least on the endangered species list. Yet even in today’s world there is still hope for good relationships because there is still an Almighty God at work in it. A God who teaches us how to walk a straight and narrow path to success in whatever we put our minds and energies to do. So I write this in the spirit of that hope: having had so many negative experiences in personal relationships, and knowing so many others who have had the same. Using the Holy Scriptures and the principles of truth that they teach I, in the name and authority of the Son of God, intend to show the wisdom of God in searching for and selecting a suitable mate for personal relationship so that we may understand why God has made it a part of the human experience in life. May God be glorified in all that I write! Amen.
Understanding the three stages of relationship
Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh
Before any type of structure is built a foundation must be laid for it, and even still the right kind of foundation must be laid or that structure is doomed to destruction. So also goes the way of relationships. Understanding the foundation that a relationship is laid upon will always give you the proper indicators on whether you have something that can last or something that will come and go with the weather. In this scripture we find the principles of truth concerning the three levels of development that comes in the three stages of relationship: dependence, independence, and interdependence. Let me show you. We have the first stage of human relationship: dependence (“[his] father and mother”), the second: independence (“leave [his] father and mother”), and the third: interdependence (“cleave unto [his] wife: and [they] shall be one flesh”).
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
All of us come into this world dependent upon others simply because we come into this world completely undeveloped and immature. If we are not cared for, fed, clothed, loved, cleaned, etc. we will die. That is a desperate situation for us to be in. If not properly internally developed we can find ourselves in desperation with negative companions as adults, because we seek our sufficiency from that other person. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach and train the child to become self-sufficient. As the child grows and begins to learn its world, and its self the parents must then begin to let the growing person assume responsibility for his or her own care until the person can take care of his or her self without their help. The problem is that we live in a world of defect: full of defective people who have wrong motives for bringing children into the world. Children are abused, neglected, abandoned, molested, overindulged, undisciplined, and left to be raised by television, and entertainers. Every experience, every instruction, every example that is before the child is teaching and training that child how to be and live as an adult, and these seeds usually are not seen until there adulthood when seeds become fruit.
The dependent relationship is only designed by God to take place between parents and children. Not between siblings, not between boyfriends and girlfriends, and definitely not between husbands and wives. Although many of us have not gotten the things we needed emotionally from the parent/child relationship we end up in adult relationships attempting to get out of them what was never intended by God for us to get out of them. If these relationships don’t end in disaster then you find two people committed to stay bound in the misery of the relationship, commonly because they refuse to grow, or they just don’t know any better. I’ve come to tell you though, whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I Corinthians 13:11
So in a perfect world the parents do their job and take their child and raise to themselves a mature son or daughter. Having put away (or as I like to say divorced) the childishness of their youth they have the equipment as adults to go out into the world and find a suitable mate for his or her self. Having divorced childish speaking, thinking, and understanding from themselves they are prepared to embark on finding themselves someone to be with. Here’s the problem though. In this world what you put out is what you will get back. If you plant an apple seed you will not get an orange tree. So you will attract what you are. So they begin to form relationships. (Hopefully they started this process with the supervision of their parents so that they can have some guidance through the confusion of experiencing people, who can take you on all kinds of emotional roller coaster rides.) Now we get to experience relationship in the stage of independence. The stage where you care for your own needs so you are responsible for your own choices. If we pay close attention to ourselves when we are experiencing people we will learn ourselves through those experiences. Someone said to me long ago, "You don’t know who you are until you find out whom you are not!" People are that mirror to show you.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Here Jesus instructs us with clarity how to handle ourselves in relationships when we are not treated correctly. He says to take heed to ourselves: this means to pay attention to ourselves. Let me show you why. If you cut me, I am the one with the wound not you. If I wait on you to care for my wound then I could cause myself some serious damage if you do not fix what you have broken. So although you are the source of the damage to me, because it is my wound I am responsible for it. So I own it. So I will pay attention to myself and the effect your mistreatment has on me so that I can do what is necessary to heal. Now if you show me compunction for what you have done. I can then give you the opportunity to be reconciled with me because I have taken care of myself. I don’t need you to fix what you’ve broken I have, so I can forgive you the debt you owe me to fix it. That keeps me in control of my own state. Self-control is a quality of maturity, while controlling others is immaturity at work. I am independent. I don’t need you to take care of me I can take care of myself. Because I can take care of myself I can set boundaries for how I will treat others and how others will treat me. It is the boundary that I set that separates me from you, and what’s yours from what’s mine. As I know myself more I can then identify others better, and who and what they truly are.
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
So God, when He had purposed to give Adam a mate, brought before him all of the animals that He formed from the ground: just as He had formed Adam from the ground. Why did He do this? Simple, to see what he would call them. If you read the text completely you will see that God had purposed to make Adam a mate so these animals were not brought to him for that purpose. As Adam formed relationships with these animals he learned to identify them. So through experience in relationships he learned them and he called them by their names. He called them by the names that God had given them, thus giving to them in the natural world what God had given them in the spiritual world already. God created the animals and formed them so He brought them to Adam to see if he could identify them according to their characteristics. Adam passed this test. The Scripture clearly states that every creature that he had relationship with he called them by the correct name. He showed God in this that he knew himself, and he was able to identify them by their individual characteristics. Thus he learned they were not compatible for him. Let me say it twice. THROUGH EXPERIENCE HE LEARNED WHAT WAS NOT COMPATIBLE FOR HIM!
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Here’s the point. In the maturity of his independence he knew his own character, he was able to identify the character of others, and thus realize what wasn’t suitable for him. You don’t know what you need until you find out what you don’t need. Adam formed general relationships and found out what wasn’t suitable for a personal and intimate relationship. As we grow up and go in an out of relationships with people, because people come and go, we should through these experiences be learning what we need from people to establish the permanent relationships that create our extended families. These are the relationships that last a lifetime. But we have to find out what we don’t want, and what we will not tolerate to identify those kinds of people that are not good for us. That were only brought into our lives by God to teach us what kind of people we need to be to receive the kind of people God has already purposed to prepare and bring into our lives. These principles don’t just apply to believers, but to all the descendants of Adam.
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
If you don’t know this is a quote from the story of Ruth, and her allegiance to her mother in law Naomi: after her husband, father in law, and brother in law all died and Naomi was leaving Moab, where they lived, to return to Israel: her homeland. If this isn’t the greatest example of an interdependent relationship I have ever seen in scripture (except the relationship between Yahweh and an adult Jesus). These two women suffered great loss in life having lost their family structure and as her older sister Orpah (for whom Oprah Winfrey was named but it was pronounced incorrectly as the story goes) stayed in Moab she would not leave her mother in law. Why? Unlike her sister Ruth knew Yahweh God, and she had become part of a family who was in the Abrahamic covenant with Him. The allegiance to the family she made when she became her ex-husband’s wife she would not break because the situation became sour. If you read the whole story you'll see this woman, this mature woman, go back to Israel with Naomi and take the responsibility of caring for them both. She definitely honored her mother in law. Her mother in law in return cared for her by helping her adapt to the foreign culture. The result of it all was that she ended up being given in marraige to a kinsman of the family, as the law of the land required under such circumstances, and a rich family member I might add. Her and her mother in law were cared for very well for the rest of their lives, and she ended up birthing Obed, the grandfather of the greatest king in the history of Israel, king David, and she also became an ancestor of the Messiah.
Interdependent relationships are those relationships which can become the most personal because you have two adults who are mature enough to take care of themselves and each other. So when tough times come no one is ready to abandon the other because where there is true maturity and self responsibility there can be true commitment or submission. As Ruth stated in her oath to Naomi, “May God do to me (bring me to death) if anything but death separate you and I”. That was true submission on her part and Naomi in receiving her oath reciprocated with her own true commitment to get her married again: an excellent example of interdependence. The problem today is that people are in interdependent relationships immature, which then creates codependent relationships. Someone takes on the parent roll, and the other takes on the child roll, and what you have is relationship in contradiction and conflict. Even if the one party is not consciously taking a roll if the other puts you into it in their subconscious mind you are there. So you have the “child” subconsciously using the partner as a seregate "parent" to get childhood needs met that went unfulfilled when they were dependent upon their parents, yet at the same time their spirit yearns to express a mature, adult personality who is independent of anyone. So what you get is something like this: “Break it down for me like a five year old so I can understand you,” (childish dependence); then you get, “Don’t talk to me like I’m a child, I’m grown!” (adult independence). See the contradiction and conflict that creates. You really are in a no win situation!
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed
So there you have it! The reward of a mature and interdependent relationship: freedom! Freedom to be who you are! Freedom to express yourself! Freedom to be seen by your mate and not have to be self conscious about anything: naked and not ashamed! When a man and a woman find this they have found the gift of God. Not just in a male/female relationship but in any relationship just like Ruth and Naomi's. Freedom is the goal of relationship because where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. When the Spirit of God has rule in your relationship there is righteousness, peace, and joy! In that we are free to treat each other well, and not to be bound to doom our partners to receive the evil we’ve endured because we are not free from past relationships. Put away, that is divorce the childish things and be free. It is the gift of an Almighty and Loving God! Amen!
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Hi. I just want to say, I think your article is excellent. I have never read a singles article before bringing in the particular Scriptures you have shared, but it is right on...and makes so much sense and offers practical principles to apply when deciding if this mate is suitable and if we are ready to decide if he/she is God's best. I think this would be an excellent article for a single Christian magazine. God bless, Ellen