Relationships and the love of Christ06 Jun

I had the privilege of speaking to the congregation at the Evening Service on the passage in Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9, focusing mainly on what Paul had to say about the relationships between a husband and wife. It is a lovely ‘meaty’ text full of controversy and it has stirred up many a feminist heart to the point that a rather ugly stand-off now appears to be the status quo amongst theological and literary minds. What one tends to overlook amidst all the emotional dynamics is that this is rather a lovely passage in which Paul gives us a set of guidelines for Christian behavior, guidelines which need to be seen against the context in which this letter was written. Paul wrote for a patriarchal, male dominant society where women had little or no value and who were frequently abused, seen as possessions and even bartered like money. Paul was speaking for women, not against them. Both Paul and Jesus valued women and used them in the church in ministry. But putting the gender debate aside, what was a gem of discovery for me was that this passage actually talks about Christian relationships between a husband and wife, and how they are different from secular relationships. In psychology we teach people about boundaries in relationships….these boundaries protect their own individual rights and boundaries are good things. However Christian boundaries are different from secular boundaries because it is not ‘I’ that is important, rather it is those that I love who are put first in my life. The word ‘submit’ is contentious in this passage but the key to finding the joy in this message is to remember that Jesus and Paul believed in reciprocal relationships, mutual submission, mutual love, mutual sacrifice. The analogy used throughout this text of Christ’s love for the church, Christ as the bride of the church, reflects this beautiful paradigm of the joy of emotional connection between human beings who love each other. Christian love has no ego, it puts love first, just as it puts Christ first. It asks not ‘what about me?”, but rather “how are you?”. It is an enduring love that transforms us and sustains us. It is selfless, it is sacrificial and it is divine.

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Dr. Elaine Saunders – Industrial Psychologist

Phd in Leadership Development
Author of Assessing Human Competence
Specialising in online competency-based assessment tools, leadership development and performance counselling
Based in Sandton, Johannesburg

My key areas of intervention revolve around helping individuals to achieve their potential in the work context. To this end, my consulting practice comprises of three key applications which are related. These are the application of competency-based assessment in recruitment and leadership development, counselling as it pertains to performance, wellness and the recovery from trauma, and leadership development coaching.

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