God’s Blueprint for Relationships by Ashley McIlwain
It can be extremely difficult figuring out the right approach to dating and the pursuit of a spouse. These days it seems all rules have gone out the window for who calls who, who pays for the date, and who controls the tempo of the relationship. With all of the gender-role confusion, it has left many in despair as to how a lifelong partner will become a reality for them.
This confusion and concern is often of a more consuming magnitude for women. Most women are acutely aware of their biological clock ticking away, which can lead to a desperate search for a marriage-material man in hopes that there will be sufficient time for having children after the wedding day. Of course, there is a very large amount of pressure on a woman to maintain her attractiveness, which can be more challenging as the years go on and heighten her panic. Then to top it off there is the feminist agenda weighing heavily on their approach to dating that encourages aggression, control, and independence.
All of these things are part of an equation with an often sad and unhappy outcome. The truth is that most women desire for the man to pursue them, and most men desire to pursue women. It’s romantic, exciting, and how God designed things to be. With many messages bombarding men and women that it is a display of inequality to have gender-specific tendencies and roles, that’s not true. There are obviously variations specific to each individual and couple in male-female relationships, but there is an outline drawn by God to lead us to a fulfilling and ideal outcome.
If you have ever been around the process of an architecture project, you will know that it all starts with a good blueprint. This blueprint lays out where things should be, how the building will be structured, and it provides overall guidelines for how everything will proceed. It is done in a way that creates a safe and secure edifice that is fully functional. Similarly, God gives us His blueprint for relationships. He tells us what the ideal is, where things should be, and how to proceed through life as a married couple in way that is safe and secure.
When a construction project ventures away from its blueprint, things get hectic, unsafe, and confusing. Of course, some things can change within the framework itself – perhaps a wall moved here or there – but the foundation and structure of it need to remain the same. That is true of God’s blueprint for marriages too. Obviously, things vary within each relationship and situation, but the load-bearing walls, structure, and foundation all need to remain according to His plans if order, strength, and success are to exist within the marriage..
What is God’s blueprint for relationships, and ultimately, marriages? Good question. Let’s take a look at some of His keys principles.
Marriage is a reflection of the Godhead
It is easy to forget that our lives are about more than just a day-to-day meandering through pointless routines. God created us for a purpose, and everything about us is to reflect and represent Him since we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This includes marriage. The big picture is that marriage is a tangible example of the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Marriage is a unique union where two people become one through sexual intimacy. “‘Therefore a man shall leave him father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9). Just like the Trinity is three-fold united and acting as one, marriage is two people united together with God to be one entity. Once you are united as one through the physical union of your bodies, it is to be a permanent adherence, like that of the Godhead.
When we enter into marriage with the lifelong commitment to our union, we are reflecting the image of God and the Trinity. That is a huge responsibility and sheds a major spotlight on just how significant and important the covenant of marriage is. It is not something to be entered into lightly or without serious regard for its significance.
Men were the first to be created by God, and this is not by mistake. This is not inconsequential information but in fact a huge clue to us that God intentionally designed men to be leaders. In her book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Mary Kassian describes Adam’s firstborn status as making him “the head of the human race. He carried the weight of responsibility for the oversight and well-being of the human family.” This can be extrapolated to mean that it is every man’s responsibility to maintain the well-being of his wife and family. That was at the very core of his existence and design.
This leadership position established by God meant that men were not only given this responsibility, but they were equipped to fulfill it. Men are naturally designed to lead, protect, and provide for their family. Physically men have bodies that are capable of accomplishing substantial feats of strength. This doesn’t mean that women are weak and feeble, but it does mean that men’s bodies are engineered to be powerful and strong enabling them to work and protect their home. Men’s brains are designed to be logical and task-oriented, both great leadership qualities. It is apparent that God designed men to take authority over their household from the beginning, but it was to be done with love, kindness, gentleness, and discernment.
Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The passage continues to describe how a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A man is designed to love his wife with such an intensity and passion that he would give up his very life for her. This kind of sacrificial love was to be the checks and balances for the authority given to him over his wife and family.
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).
God looked at Adam and knew that he needed a helper who was a perfect fit for him. So, he caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took out a rib from his side, and formed Eve. As usual, this act by God was one that had more meaning than what meets the eye. One of my favorite quotes is by Marquerite De Valois, and it is a perfect sum of the scene, “Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”
The fact that God refers to a woman as “a helper fit for him” in Genesis 2:18 speaks volumes to His intent for her. He obviously designed women to come alongside of men, honoring their authority, respecting them, and being supportive helpmates. Being a helpmate does not mean that a woman is less than man; it simply means she is complimentary. Women were created to be relational, nurturing beings. Physically and mentally our biological composition confirms this helpful, caring role. God knew that the man’s strength needed a nurturing counterpart.
Ephesians 5:22 – 24 gives these instructions for women, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” A lot of time can be spent dissecting every nuance of this verse, but the point I want to make is that this is not meant to indicate that women are to be the doormat in the relationship. Quite the opposite. In respect and reverence for the leadership and authority of her husband, the wife chooses to come alongside of him and allow him to do his job while supporting him. It’s not a lesser position; it’s a complimentary inner strength to the man’s outer strength.
God knew what He was doing when He designed man and woman. Both are strong and equal but different and complimentary. It’s the perfect union. The problem with all of this is that sin entered the picture, distorting and skewing the original design and blueprint for marriage. Men abuse their authority. Women refuse to submit and be a helpmate. Because of these misuses of power and misrepresentation of God’s design for men and women, things have gotten out of hand. Women are rebelling against the authority of men and their God-given supportive role. Men are abdicating their leadership role and responsibilities and lacking in love for their wives.
Men and women are equal but not identical. Each is designed with specific strengths and roles that are complimentary and essential to one another. It is up to each couple and individual to maintain the God-given blueprint of their marriage. It is a daily battle and commitment, but it is the best design possible for a successful marriage.