The Keys to a Godly Relationship

The Keys to a Godly Relationship

Since the first man and woman walked on earth, humanity has been plagued with a curse of men and women fighting for control over each other. This curse is the reason men have dominated women and women have been fighting for equality throughout history. But Jesus destroyed the curse and restores the relationship between God and his people through his marriage! We look to Jesus for an example of the keys to a godly relationship. When we bring these keys into our lives through Jesus, we destroy the curse and restore the relationship between man and woman.

Taking a Step Toward Reconciliation

Paul wrote to the Roman church, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though God’s people were the first to rebel against him, Jesus didn’t wait for his bride to come back to him. Rather, he sacrificially took the first step toward reconciliation through his death and won her over. Similarly, even though Eve was the first to rebel, men must step into their authority and take the first step in reconciliation. Men have to fight to get women back. God is calling men to step into their roles as leaders.

But because men are called to be leaders, our strength is where the enemy attacks. We are tempted with laziness and passivity. Our authority is undermined. Our identities are called into question and the devil fights to make us weak. We must be strong and proactive. We must allow God to heal our wounds, remove our insecurity, forgive our sin, and receive strength from Jesus. Wild At Heart is an amazing book by John Eldredge that I highly recommend to any man who feels like he needs growth in this area, or any woman who wants to better understand the hearts of men.

So how are men supposed to take the first step toward a godly relationship?

The First Key to a Godly Relationship: Love

When men and women were cursed, God told the woman that man would “rule” over her. Ruling is how one in authority uses his authority to make himself more important and more valuable than his followers. This is why men are seen by society as superior to women. But Jesus taught us a different way to be a leader. Defying the logic that seems natural to our fallen minds, Jesus said, “The last shall be first, and the first last.” He said, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

If any husband has the right to rule over his wife, it’s Jesus. But he didn’t. Rather, he sought to be her servant. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him.” Jesus lived this principle of using his authority to serve over and over again, perhaps most pointedly when he washed his disciples’ feet, a job reserved for servants. He said, “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” Jesus redefined what authority was. This is key: authority is no longer a means to rule, but rather, a means to serve.

As Paul said, humility results in exaltation. But humility is not a one-time event to achieve exaltation. Rather, it is the ongoing mindset that authority and servanthood are the same thing. The more authority and exaltation one gets, the more opportunity it provides to be humble and serve. Since this kind of authority is used for service to others rather than self-service, the one who leads with authority must lay aside his own best interests and lead for the benefit of the one who is following. This kind of leader does not make himself more valuable, but rather humbles himself and makes the one following more valuable. Making others more valuable than yourself is the very definition of love. That’s the way that Jesus loved his bride, by sacrificing his life for her. John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This is the kind of love Paul wrote about to the Church in Ephesus:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”
Man using his authority to take initiative by loving his wife sacrificially is the key to restoring the relationship between men and women.

The Second Key to a Godly Relationship: Submission

If we accept that this kind of Christ-like authority is for the purpose of sacrificial love, we must realize authority and love are the same; they cannot be separated. If a woman wants to receive this sacrificial love from her husband, she must also receive his authority as well. This is why, in the same passage, Paul tells the women the following:
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
Many women bristle at this passage because it makes them feel inferior. But subjection does not make a wife less important. Rather empowers her husband to lead and love her in a way that makes her more important than himself. The key is to remember that love and submission are two sides of the same coin. They are different, but they work together perfectly.

If you want your relationship to be a team working together, you must be working toward the same goal. To have the same goal in a relationship, someone must take the lead and set the goal and the other submit to it. Since Christ is the head of the church, men are the heads of their wives. Men were created with leadership in their nature. Women were created with support in their nature. Men and women are different. When they come together in a godly relationship, the differences don't make one or the other more valuable. Rather, the differences compliment each other perfectly. This is why submission is the second key to a godly relationship.

Balance in a Godly Relationship

When we apply these keys of love and submission to a relationship, it ends the competition between men and women. No longer do men rule over women. No longer are women treated as second class citizens. Women are no longer told what they can’t do. There is no more violence towards women. They are no longer mocked or humiliated. No longer is a man’s authority a threat to women, but an asset. No longer do women need to compete with men. Women no longer have to fight for equal pay at work, because they trust that their men will provide for them. Women no longer have to fight for reproductive rights, because they can count on the fathers to not abandon them and their children.

This even applies to perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the women’s rights movement: the right to vote. A vote represents authority, and if a husband and wife vote differently, the husband is not using his authority for his wife’s best interest. Their votes will cancel each other out, and they both may as well have abstained without affecting the results. But if all husbands vote the same as their wives in her best interest, we end up with twice as many votes as we need and women can all save themselves the trouble of voting without affecting the results. A marriage is the foundation of a family, and family is the foundation of a society. If we cannot have political harmony within a marriage, how can we ever hope for political harmony in society?

The world says that men and women are fundamentally the same. But God says that men and women are different. The world strives for equality between men and women. But God says men and women should strive to be inferior to each other. Women should submit to the authority of their husbands, honoring them. Men use their authority to sacrificially love their wives, honoring them. Men and women were equal before the curse, but Jesus broke the curse, not so that they could be equal, but so that men could make women greater, and women could make men greater. In this lack of equality, there is a beautiful harmony and balance that builds up the relationship between men and women. This is the key to a godly relationship.

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