I remember writing this up, but I think I forgot to post it here.
Jesus and the Church are a guide to male and female relationships and marriage. The analogy of husband and wife as Jesus and the Church in Ephesians 5 provides a strong background for how we are to walk in male-female relationships that lead to marriage and in marriage. Christ:Church::husband:wives. This goes against many things in our popular culture and even in the current Church today.
There is the notion in popular culture that men romantically pursue women. This thought has also pervaded the Church in the form of “Jesus is my lover” or “husbands should romance their wives” because “Jesus and God continually pursue you.” This is false. The Father and Jesus both call us or rather present the opportunity, but it is up to us to acknowledge the call and choose to follow.
Matthew 4:18 (NASB) Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
Jesus had just traveled out of the wilderness where He was tempted and had started to preach the gospel in the surrounding areas. In other words, Jesus started His God-given mission. The disciples saw Jesus on His mission, He invited them to come join Him in the journey, and they wanted to follow Him.
In the context of male-female relationships, remember from the beginning that God created woman to be a helpmeet of man. Jesus demonstrates His mission and presents a clear vision of how He was going to task His disciples when they follow Him: to be fishers of men. In the same way, a man who asks a woman out on a date should already be working toward His God-given mission—evangelize, make disciples, use your Spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ, and lead ministry. He should also have a clear vision of where she fits in his life as his helpmeet as she is going to help him on his mission. She is also going to fulfill her Biblical roles and responsibilities just as you would to her.
Jesus does not chase after us, nor should men chase after women. This flies in the face of all “romance” that is popular in the culture and Church. Consider when Jesus claims that He is the “Bread of Life” in John 6.
John 6:60 (NASB) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
Jesus challenges all of those that were following Him about His role and place in the Kingdom of God. His invitation is the same: Follow Me and continue to Follow Me. Yet those who were not interested He let walk away. The same is true of God in Romans 1, where He allows humanity to be given over to their sinful passions and lusts if they don’t want to seek Him.
Consider the father’s actions in the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The son decides he wants his inheritance to go party. The father allows him to go off on his own. The father does not chase after him to persuade him otherwise. Only when the son makes the choice to come back to the father does the father see him in the distance, come out of his house, and run toward him with arms open wide.
The pervasive romantic attitude that men are supposed to pursue women runs contrary to the Father and Jesus’ actions. Both culture and some in the Church would have us believe that Jesus continues to chase after us at all costs. This is only true in the example of the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd goes to apprehend a sheep that wandered away, yet in that case that sheep was already under the Shepherd’s care (Luke 15). Only after we are committed in marriage are we responsible to seek after that which is ours that is lost. This mirrors the roles and responsibilities of marriage.
The Biblical model for relationships is that men demonstrate and invite, and women choose to respond to that invitation and follow.
If a man asks a woman out on a date and she turns him down, should that man continue to try to be “romantic” and chase after her? Of course not! There’s nothing a man can say or do to convince a woman to like him more. Even if by some measure he wears down her resistance and she capitulates, such a relationship will not work out in the long run because it was not based on her genuine desire to be in the relationship with him. Whether or not she actually acts on it, she will internally desire to leave as soon as the next best thing comes along.
No matter how much you, as a man, may want to be in a relationship with a woman, she also needs to want to be in that relationship. She has to want to follow you, out of genuine desire to be with you.
- Jesus leads, the Church follows. Men lead, women follow.
- Jesus doesn’t chase after us. Men should not chase after women.
The goal of a single Christian man should be to carry out his God-given mission wholeheartedly and invite a woman on a date (or to be courted) to see if she wants to follow him. If she isn’t a good follower or isn’t teachable to be a good follower, he should be selective and eliminate her from contention.
The point at which a man starts to pursue after a woman, he slips into a dangerous frame of mind that can easily lead him to start pedestaling her and sin. Adam not saying no to Eve and the serpent in the garden is but one example of putting your wife over the commands of God. He was not deceived but willfully chose her more than obeying God.