Institutions and relationships

This is an important concept that should define your thinking in terms of both Christianity on an intitutional level and a relationship level. In addition, it applies to interactions of institutions with institutions, and institutions with individuals.

The primary core of institutional interaction is that of a transactional nature. The easiest way to conceptualize transactions is to think of business. When an institution such as a bank interacts with a store there is a contract drawn up where one provides money typically in exchange for goods and services. A similar occurrence happens with an institution and and individual such as a customer. The customer provides money and exchanges it in a transaction for goods and services.

However, God’s kingdom — based on relationships — is based in a much different train of thought:

Matthew 10:1 Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and [a]James the son of Zebedee, and [b]John his brother; 3 Philip and [c]Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; [d]James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the [e]Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not [f]go [g]in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, [h]preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven [i]is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a [j]bag for your journey, or even two [k]coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his [l]support. 11 And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay [m]at his house until you leave that city. 12 As you enter the [n]house, give it your [o]greeting. 13 If the house is worthy, [p]give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, [q]take back your blessing of peace. 14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

One of the major problems in the Church at large currently is that it thinks of itself as an institution. Part of this thinking stems that they have instititutional status as a religious organization in the US tax code. The same is true of most Christian charity organizations as well. The Church should be thinking of itself as the literal body of Christ. It is a organic, living, breathing human with Jesus at the head that is made to operate on a relationship level rather than an institutional level and thus transactional nature.

We see this transactional level of thinking in the current Churchianity. Churches are more concerned about bringing in new members to get more tithes and offerings rather than to serve and build relationships with the people in the community. Churches are more concerned about avoid conflict and not challenging their members to be more Christ-like in fear that their members will leave and their money with them.

I was recently talking to a man who left the Church about 5 years ago. He told me a story of how he had helped multiple church plants. A church in the [South] area wanted to plant a church in the [Northeast] (locations generalized). They did and he was literally on the ground floor. They used a company to provide metrics of the population in terms of where there were the least churches, average income, and the like. The church grew quickly and was able to start paying back the church that planted it. However, there was a problem. He is a numbers man and ran the numbers that they could pay everything within 12 months. He discussed this with the pastors, and the pastors said that they would be continuing to pay back for 20-24 months. Eventually he got to the bottom and they were just sending money back well past what they paid back. Instead of having a successful church plant where they could use the money to send out missionaries, community outreach, and serving the people in the local area they were extracting money from the area for the head church.

This should not be. Obviously, this man that I talked with was disillusioned with the church and slipped into more of a hedonistic lifestyle. He’s one of my better friends now, and the impact that churchianity has had on him is going to be difficult to show him the love of the Father. But God is the God of the impossible, so there is hope.

However, aside from this story this is common thinking in the church now. Everything has been made transactional in nature rather than relational. I have been guilty of this myself.

One some level, it’s easy for Christians to begin to think that we need to work and do good for the love of the Father rather than already knowing that He loves us even before we do anything. Jesus is loved and the Father is well-pleased with Him even before He begins His ministry.

Mathew 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [a]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and [b]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is [c]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

The same is true of all of us as children of God. This will play into the identity post I am working on next.

I do not believe that institutional and transactional thinking is wrong on any level. In business, you must be able to think in terms of transactions and contracts. This is true in any sense of the term, especially if the church is going to interact with society and the government on the level of social programs. Government run social programs devolve into a toxic wasteland of inefficiency and greed. The church does a much better job of running programs that actually benefit individuals in a society such as many of the Catholic initiatives. The Church must be able to interact with the government and charities on a transactional level, but the care they provide must be on an individual relationship level.

It is through the experience of relationships that men and women are broken. Maybe you came up from a divorced home. Maybe there was alcohol or substance abuse in your family and it spilled over to you. Maybe your parents treated you horribly. Maybe you were fatherless and Fatherless.

And it is through the experience of relationships that men and women come to know the Love of Christ and are able to be changed by the work of the Father in their lives. Though the relationships of broken people interacting with those who have the Holy Spirit working in them.

One of the most important concepts to learn on any level of business is that you need to know your target population and how best to serve it. The Church is failing at this because they don’t understand that we should not be seeking transactions but rather relationships.

If I were to relate this to the manosphere there are obvious concepts that apply to this:

  • Husbands in marriage knowing that sex is due them. It is true, but when it comes off in a transactional nature it tends to be a recipe for failure. Rollo’s ubiquitous quote applies “desire cannot be negotiated.”
  • Wives in marriage thinking that if they do X their husbands will do Y and they will be happy again. Being submissive is not merely an action; it must be coupled with the attitude of respect. Without respect you can be submissive and have the worst attitude. You are doing the right thing, but your heart is not in it and it won’t reinforce positive behavioral change.
  • Single men beliving that they have to become “alpha” in order to attract a wife. There is the law of reciprocality in that you want to become the ideal spouse of your ideal spouse, but employing your thoughts and actions in a transactional nature will come off as neediness. Crazy, no?

There’s more examples, but to truly understand relationships you need to understand them as the Father and Jesus exemplify them. They give without expectation of receiving back because it is this love which attracts us to Him. There will be those who abuse this, and you have to set boundaries for that. However, in the same vein as the Father’s unwavering, unyielding love for us we must apply to others.

There is a truism that often goes unnoticed in the manosphere. It is not what we do which is considered attractive, but it is how we do it. The same is exemplified by the Father’s passion for us, and it must be reflected in our desire, attitude, passion, and heart for others.

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3 Responses to Institutions and relationships

  1. Peter says:

    I understand what you are saying, but your argument would be better put if you avoided attempting to create a false dichotomy between an artificially restricted definition of “relationship” and everything else.

    “Relationship” is how one entity or body stands or action RELATIVE to another.
    It can be a business relationship.
    It could be a sexual relationship.
    A master/servant relationship, a Master/Slave relationship or an Institution/client relationship are all Relationships.

    Probably the biggest problem arises when Christians use the term to describe how they interact with God, without qualification. I have relationship with my brother, my neighbour, my bank-manger and my dog. They are all “relationships”, but none of them are the same kind of relationship that I have with my Lord.
    When we fail to qualify relationships, we fail to understand that many relationships are dysfunctional….. including the relationships that some Christans have with God. Those who think of Christ as their indulgent saviour, but not their Lord, have a dysfunctional relationship. As do those who attempt a transactional relationship (salvation by works) or those who rebel against Him. (Relationship is that of judge and condemned.)

    Yes, this is at best,tangential to your article, but without the proper use of language, communication become difficult, and I don’t believe that this is what you want.

    All the best……. Peter.

  2. @ Peter

    Goods points. I am using relationships in a Biblically defined manner not how they are used in terms of just interactions with different people or entities.

    To note for those reading I am speaking of relationships in terms of what Jesus termed as the greatest commandment:

    Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

  3. Pingback: Identity | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

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