Shortly after I retired, I led an intercessory prayer group in our church to pray specifically for the transition period as we called a new pastor. Toward the end of our prayer time, the words “rightly ordering our relationships” came to mind. As I thought about that phrase, I sensed that it applied to relationships between men and women in our church. The women in the prayer group agreed that the idea of focusing some attention to male and female relationships was needed. As I thought further about the subject, three key thoughts came to mind:
First, men, be committed to a church or fellowship of men where the truth of God’s Word is taught regarding relationships, especially with our wives. There is a kind of “suffering silence” and “soulful grieving” among Christian men, particularly regarding the feminine. There are layers of emotions to be examined. Truth and redeeming grace, combined with a climate of vulnerability, creates a “safe place” for men to explore being rightly related to women. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17). Further, as men, we need the witness of those “exemplars” who practice and model healthy relationships with their wives. “A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well” (I Tim 3:12). With all the confusion regarding gender relationships, men desperately need to “absorb” the witness of men who “rightly order” their lives and relationships. Men, I encourage you to open your heart and drink in the life of the men who are witnesses to you, especially in their emotional lives.
Secondly, I have found that in ordering my relationships, I had to deal with images of male and female from my past that had been planted and buried in my heart from my family of origin. I had to face negative attitudes toward both my father and my mother. Remember the one commandment with a promise: “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). I had in essence “digested” both the good and bad of my family. I had to get it all out by confession, forgiveness, and repentance. Men, you will never rightly order your relationships until you honestly face your past and bring it to the light. Proverbs 20:20 is a warning: “If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in the pitch darkness.” But through surrender, you create an inner space for the Spirit of God to reorder your relationships.
Thirdly, rightly ordering our relationships means coming to peace regarding our masculine soul. Men need to embrace Paul’s words in Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” My burden for each man reading this is that you may live fully and freely out of your masculine soul. Celebrate your uniqueness as a man. Allow yourself, by the grace of God, to sink into your soul, secure in Christ, to find healing and affirmation regarding who you are as a man. Then in the ordering of your relationships, you will be able to embrace the complementarity of the feminine, especially within your wife. My contention is that when a man is affirmed and secure in his maleness, he will then be able to rightly relate to the feminine both within himself and in other women. He will be able to heed the words of Ephesians 5:21, “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another” (Message).