It’s All About Relationships
Note: this is the second post in a series exploring a trinitarian understanding of the relationship between the genders (yep, you read that right!). The introductory post is here.
I’m in full time Christian ministry. To dispel any doubt, let me offer a short story to demonstrate my credentials.
The other night, we were sitting around trying to figure out a guest’s Myers-Briggs type. There, see?!? And of course one of the questions was around the distinction between the MBTI “I” and “E.” As in, was our guest an introvert or an extrovert? To dramatically overstate the difference, the introvert recharges by being alone while the extrovert recharges, well, at cocktail parties.
In the end our guest was an E, but during the conversation we realized something important. Both I’s and E’s relate with others. Both need people. It’s just a matter of how being around other people effect us. This conversation illustrates a simple but important truth:
We are created as relational beings.
Which makes sense, because we were created by a relational God. In fact, trinitarian theology rests on the bedrock that God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit are eternally, fundamentally and, dare I say, happily in relationship with one another. As pastor and professor Darrell Johnson notes in his book Experiencing the Trinity:
“‘At the center of the universe is a relationship.’ This is the most fundamental truth I know. At the center of the universe is a community. It is out of that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed. And it is for that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed!”
What I’m saying this morning is that the God we worship is in fact a relationship.
In the Orthodox stream of the Christian faith, icons are important things. Icons communicate truth through a visual medium. Medieval Russian painter Andrei Rublev was famous for his Orthodox icons and frescoes, and he is most famous for his icon on the Trinity. Here’s a picture:
What I love most about Rublev’s work is how he captures relationship. First, there’s the relationship between the three members of the God-head. Reclining around the table, comfortable in each others presence, fully at peace with one another. It’s beautiful.
But at the same time, it’s more than just the relationship between the members of the Trinity. Because there’s an empty place at the table. There, right in the foreground. The icon welcomes the watcher in for a seat with the God-head. The empty place at the table is for you and I.
Friends, we are created as relational beings by a fundamentally relational God.
The implications of this are of course critical and far-reaching. We belong in families. We need social bases. We resolve conflict, forgive each other and pursue vulnerability because of it.
And when it comes to the genders, this trinitarian reality beckons us to relationship. In fact, it calls us to full and healthy relationship. Like a Trinity-caliber version of relationship, one marked by peace, by comfort, by intimacy, by partnership. After all, according to Genesis 2:18, Adam solo wasn’t good enough.
So as we start our examination of the trinitarian implications for a theology of gender relationships, let’s begin by establishing that men and women are called to relationship that mirrors the relational character of the Trinity. Quite simply, we’re designed to be in cross-gender community.
What about you? What is the healthiest cross-gender relationship that you’ve enjoyed?