The relationship seminar is always a full house. It would be that way no matter who was speaking. The reality is that we are looking for some help when it comes to relationships. It's not just the Church or Christians. Walk around Barnes and Noble; you will be dizzied by the amount of books offering hints, tips and tactics for healthy relationships.
The problem with these books and most advice is that, in essence, they leave the framework of your ideas and presuppositions about the purpose of relationships as they are. Each of us is not a blank slate. We come into this discussion with 18 plus years of influences on relationships and their purposes: families of origin we were born into, neighbors, magazines we read, Churches we attend, shows we watch.
We all have a framework, like the walls of a house.
Most of our relational houses look like tornadoes have hit them. Some are literally falling to the ground and condemned, others look healthy, but have serious hidden issues that threaten to collapse the whole relational house one day in the near future. If we start with advice about dating and sex without addressing some of the framing issues, it would be like trying to put a nice Persian rug on the middle of a termite-infested, falling through floor.
Before we address leaky faucets, try to patch up a few holes or offer a few paint colors, we need to get rid of some faulty lies that have been framing our view of relationships. We need to tear down the lies that are ruining relationships past, present and future; only then can we begin to build a healthy foundation and framework for a lifetime of healthy friendships, marriages and families.
There are five main lies that we have believed when it comes to relationships, sex and dating.
Lies we believe:
- Relationships are all about me (or relationships are all about them). This is a Treat Yo Self mentality (thanks, Parks and Rec) in which relationships are all about what someone else can do for me or how someone will make me look. This lie has been fed to us so many times, we don't even recognize it is as a lie anymore. The goal of life is to be make myself happy and relationships are just another means to that end. You can see why we live in a culture with unprecedented divorce rates or people who won't even marry. As soon as I stop being happy or having my needs met, I am gone.
- Another person will complete me. Quick math lesson for you: two broken people do not make one whole person. They make two very broken people. We tend to think that if we could just find our soul mate, we will no longer be insecure, lonely, fearful, etc. The problem is that no human being is perfect and no one can offer you the unconditional love and affection you long for. Even the strongest humans were never meant to carry the weight of our Divine desires, only God was meant to do that. When we put such high expectations on another human being, we crush any potential for joy or healthy human relationships, like a brick crushes a Dixie Cup.
- It's my body, I can do what I want to. What I do with my body doesn't affect anything else. Psychology has done some amazing things, but it has also provided us with a great lie: sex is an animalistic drive that must be met, much like hunger must be satisfied with food or thirst with water. The problem is that our sexual desires are not that simple or compartmentalized. The pornography you view, the people you sleep with, the self-gratification of masturbation, these all have affects on your body, mind and soul.
- If I do the God thing, then He owes me. Some of us have been taught that the three lies above are, indeed, lies. We have come to know Christ and have sought to follow and serve Him. We want to please Him. But sometimes, we buy a more subtle, but equally dangerous lie that if we just do what God says, He will bless us with the perfect spouse on our timetable. When He doesn't do what we think He should after we have been faithful to stay pure and such, we begin to grow bitter and disappointed with Him. We didn't sign on for singleness for this long of a season or potentially for life. But then again, we didn't get to write the contract.
Now that we have taken a hammer to the framework of lies, we can begin to build a lifelong foundation for healthy relationships. There are four truths that God begins to slowly write on our hearts that counteract these relationship-destructing lies.