To improve our relationships, we must first ask a question with a deep answer. Can you come along with me for a little theology?
The question is, Why do we have relationships?
The answer for the Christian is that God is trinity. God has relationship within God’s triune Self. The Three are co-equal (and co-eternal), but very different individual Persons. Just like we find in our relationships.
I am not sure how the Muslim or Jew or Unitarian can answer that question, why we have relationships. From their viewpoint, it must seem somewhat arbitrary. We have them just because.
But, as a Christian, being created in the Triune God’s image means being created to be in relationships. Especially created as gendered, masculine and feminine, makes us come together in a uniquely intimate and fruitful way, but our Image-bearing fits us for other relationships also.
The fact that the Trinity is commonly expressed as “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” should not lead us to think that only our paternal relationships are mirroring the Trinity. The Scriptures purposely refer to the Trinity by diverse names, including some through the lips of Jesus Himself: Vinedresser and Vine and Counselor; God and the Word of God and the Breath of God; Creator and Wisdom of the Creator and Wind of the Creator; The King and the Right Hand of the King and the One Who Testifies for the King; Almighty and Lamb and Advocate; etc.
The point is that the Members are given various names, expressing various relationships, to clue us into how all our different relationships are reflected in Themself. I sometimes use the names, “First, Second, Third” as a step to help us do that. So, for example, the Apostle Paul encourages us to see our marriages as a reflection of the First and the Second (1Corinthians 11:3), for which it would be gravely inappropriate to use the terms Father and Son (so Paul doesn’t). Paul’s point is that the Second is feminine to the First. Paul’s theological move gives us license to understand the Trinitarian relationships from different perspectives.
When we understand their Trinitarian basis, our relationships take on a glow. The Scriptures show us Their relationships, especially through what They do in conjunction with One Another in the work of creation and redemption, and so help us to understand our own.
This Christian answer provides a compelling and even inviting reason to lift up and affirm intergendered romantic relationships (that is between a man and woman) as God’s way for us in marriage. I have found that even those with same-sex attraction can then appreciate God’s commands to keep marriage intergendered. They understand that such can usher us into the love of the Triune God.
This Christian answer, like nothing else, can grant women true equality, while calling us to love each other in the asymmetries of gender. There is nothing else like this understanding to help women know that they are not second class souls, as the Second is not inferior to the First.
When we take seriously that there are three distinct Persons in God, we even start to have better fights with our spouses. For Christ’s interaction with the First can at times show us how to work out different perspectives to a single will even when it is extremely tough (e.g., Luke 22:42, even though it involves Jesus’ human will). They do it in Their perfect way, but we in our limited and sinful way make a toy replica.
Thinking Trinitarianly will do wonders for your relationships. Do you ever think of your relationships this way?