God's Design for Relationships

by Alyssa Reeves
Published in K-State Collegian: Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Last week a humpback whale calf was spotted off the northern coast of Sydney, Australia trying to suckle a yacht, believing the yacht was its mother.
    According to an article from cnn.com, National Parks and Wildlife Regional Manager Chris McIntosh said the calf was not yet weaned and could not survive long away from its mother.
    No doubt this whale — the Australians nicknamed it Colin — was lost and confused, not to mention very hungry. To onlookers, it was illogical for a whale to demand from a boat what it was not designed to provide.
    This relationship inevitably ended in disaster. Officials determined the animal was too weak to survive on its own and euthanized it.
    Colin’s story seems innocent enough. It was simply a baby whale looking for something to provide for it. It was looking for food and love from a yacht that was not capable of providing these things.
    Looking for love seems natural for college students. It is all part of “the plan”: go to college, meet someone, get married, graduate, get a job, have kids and grow old.
    However, Fox News reported that the divorce rate in 2007 was 36 percent, so it is obvious there are some flaws in “the plan.”
    As a woman, when I see that something is not working how it should, I turn to the instruction manual. I have yet to discover a reliable paperback that defies societal norms.
    As a follower of Christ, I turn to the one who created relationships. The Bible says in Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”
    The better we understand how something is designed to work, the less we will try to make it something it’s not. Have you ever tried cooking eggs in a toaster? The toaster was not designed to cook eggs. How did God design relationships to work?
    The most common misconception about relationships is that a person should find a soul mate to “complete” him or her. The problem is, this turns into spiritual idolatry.
    We are to find fulfillment and purpose in God. Our spouse will fail as our “god.” No person can live up to such expectations.
    God’s design for marriage is five-fold: to model Christ’s love, to be fruitful and multiply, to provide a helpmate, to give sexual intimacy and enjoyment within the covenant of marriage and to fulfill God’s great commission together.
    Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
    What does it look like to imitate Christ’s love? Paul’s letter instructed the Ephesians to get rid of attitudes that tear down and hurt others and to extend grace and forgiveness to them, even if it is at great cost to ourselves.
    Instead of finding the right person, falling in love and fixing our lives around this person for our future fulfillment, God’s design for relationships is to become the right person by doing what God does. This includes walking in love, fixing our hope on God and seeking to please him with our relationships.
    Author Gary Thomas reasons, “If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane. If receiving love is our primary goal, we’ll dump our spouse as soon as he or she seems to be less attentive. But if we marry for the glory of God, to model his love and commitment to our children, and to reveal his witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.”
    If you must be completed by another person, you will find that whatever they have to give you will never be enough.
    Don’t be a whale.