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Growing up, we probably had our own ideas of what marriage would be like. We may have gotten them from reading fairy tales, watching our parents, or seeing the portrayal of stereotyped gender roles on television shows. More often than not, we found out later that these images of the “perfect relationship” didn’t work. Forcing any relationship to work—if it’s not built on biblical principles—is like hammering a square peg into a round hole, but Christ transforms broken relationships into something beautiful.
People are accustomed to seeing unequal relationships, and many accept domination and patriarchal attitudes without question. As a result, men and women force themselves into traditional gender roles that are restrictive and unfulfilling, but this was not God’s original plan. God made Adam and Eve in His image and as equals (Genesis 1:26, 27), but the sin that resulted when they disobeyed Him in the garden of Eden caused man to dominate and rule over woman (Genesis 3:16).
Jesus came to earth to restore gender equality the way God intended it. Jesus demonstrated God’s love and acceptance when He ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-29), healed a woman of a bleeding disorder (Mark 5:25-34), and cast out demons from a woman (Luke 8:2). At the time, women were considered inferior, and the grace He showed to them was unheard of and very controversial.
Maintaining relationships according to the world’s standards is heavy and burdensome. We sense deep down inside us that traditional expectations in this area are wrong, and going along with the status quo saddens our spirits and hurts our souls. Accepting God’s will for our relationships frees us from what can feel like bondage. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The decision to let Christ transform our relationships requires a radical shift in the way we think about marriage. The traditional way of thinking puts woman in submission to man, who lords over her. According to biblical principles, submission is a two-way street. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). When both the husband and the wife submit to God and acknowledge they are in an equal partnership, the relationship is strengthened.
Putting the other person first and considering their needs before our own helps us avoid the self-centeredness that destroys so many relationships around us. We should nurture and serve them in love the way Jesus served others. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). Applying the Word of God to our relationships breathes new life into them.
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