Men are From Earth and Women Are Too

If you think you come from Mars or Venus, I’m sorry to have to tell you that you are as earth-bound as they come. You are as human as human can be. Youz aint been nowheres else and youz aint goin’ nowheres else.

Men are from “Earth”. And Women are from …. “Earth”. It’s as simple as that.

space man

In fact, to be technically correct, Men are from Earth and Women are from Men! The account of creation given in the Bible informs us that man was made from the dust of the earth and woman was made from flesh taken from the man’s side.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7

“And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, he made into a woman, and brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:22

So, while men and women are different (and the French say “Oui, Oui! Viva la difference!”) they are from the same stock and have all too much in common.

So, let’s not get too excited about aggrandizing the peculiarities of men and women, as if those differences have celestial significance. There are some very earthy things about men and women, and the differences between them are very earthy too.

Earthlings

Earthlings are pretty undesirable creatures. Without wanting to run you down, it can be good to see yourself for who you really are. I’d like to show you some of the things that make earthlings “un-special”.

We are undesirable when compared with God, our Maker. The human heart is full of evil thoughts and intentions. Wealth, provision and education do not save humans from degradation. While we may improve our society and living standards, the ugly issues of hatred, prejudice, vengeance, jealousy, violence, resentment, unforgiveness, selfishness, pride, contempt, intolerance, lust, and the like, still spring from the human heart.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Matthew 15:18-20

So, while earthlings try to elevate themselves socially, politically, economically and academically they are brought down by the desperately wicked things in their human heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

Battle of the Sexes

When old professor Higgins said, “Why can’t a woman be like a man?” he was putting womankind down. And that taunting of one by the other has been a long-standing theme. The “can’t live without ’em and can’t live with ’em” frustration has been celebrated in literature, song and movies.

Terms such as male chauvinism, militant feminism, the superior sex and mere male, reflect something of the sweeping presence of the battle of the sexes.

Even the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus discussions tend to reflect a pursuit of personal value, to fortify against the sexual put-down that many people confront.

In the face of the “We’re better than you” arguments, allow me to repeat that “earthlings are pretty undesirable creatures”. It is not that men are cretans and women have higher moral value. Nor is it that “it’s a man’s world and women must accept their place”. Both men and women are deeply flawed creatures, significantly limited and eternally doomed.

What is Man?

On two occasions King David wrote in his psalms the question, “What is man that God should pay him any attention?” David acknowledged that humanity has no endearing quality when compared with God.

What is man, that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you visit him?” Psalm 8:4

“LORD, what is man, that you take knowledge of him! Or the son of man, that you make account of him!” Psalm 144:3

Humankind is not some wonderful creature, whether male or female. In fact, every human is “undone”, useless, worthless, and hopeless. Man does not have the capacity to save himself, and every man has become totally overpowered by sin. No man or woman is righteous. In our humanness (our flesh) there is nothing of any value.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” Romans 3:10

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for despite my intentions I cannot do the good I want to do.” Romans 7:18

Flawed Relationships

What kind of relationships do flawed people create? They create flawed relationships. Earthlings do not do anything well. And that is just as true for our relationships. Our evil heart reacts to others. Our selfish desires impose on others. Our human weakness fails others.

Wives easily fall into contending with their husbands, like a continually dripping tap. Men easily fall into stubborn resistance. Games such as “No Speaks”, or outbursts and arguments are quickly learned and readily made part of human interaction. Psychologists invent terms such as “co-dependency” and “dysfunctional” to describe the flawed relationships humans create.

Pouting, sulking, manipulating, arguing, rejecting, stonewalling, contending, abusing and neglecting are just some of the typical flaws we see in interpersonal relationships. We even have domestic abuse and violence to further testify to human ability to create flawed relationships.

Hope For Humans

Despite the desperate limitations of earthlings, there is great hope for humans. Millions of homes around the world are largely free from the flaws I have pointed to. This is not because the humans are superior, but because they have drawn upon a superior source.

When hopeless humans call upon the eternal God they are empowered to rise above their own depravity and enjoy the glorious liberty of being a child of God.

Our starting point is that we are hopeless and undone. So then we humble ourselves before God and call on His grace. God then forgives us and creates new life within us. Our “born again” spirit now brings God’s grace, wisdom, fruit and power into our weak and failing lives. As we follow God’s instructions, under His lordship over our lives, our hearts are renewed and our lives transformed.

There is abundant hope for humans. It is not on Venus, or on the earth. It comes from heaven, where our Saviour is seated at the right hand of God, ready to give us salvation, forgiveness and new life.

From Earth to Heaven

Men and Women are from Earth, but they don’t have to stay there. We can’t draw on resources from Mars or Venus, but we can draw on eternal blessings and miracle power from Heaven. When we do that we become children of the God of Heaven. Then, when we have completed this earth-bound journey we will go from here to heaven.

Meanwhile we can bring a little of heaven to earth, in our homes and relationships. But that involves us making a connection with Almighty God in Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, as our Saviour and Lord. And in doing that, there is amazing hope for humans, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

Tensions at Home

When home life becomes sour, husbands and wives tend to fall into predictable patterns. While these are not universal they do have historic and Biblical recognition. So, I want to point out the patterns which you are tempted to fall into and the Biblical solution to wrong responses.

Interpersonal relationship is made difficult by the fact that it is “personal” – inter-personal. We look for close affectional bonds and relationships of mutual respect and trust. We want to be loved, appreciated, valued, empowered, given room to express ourselves and so on. These ideals are anchored deep in our “personal” self.

Stop Being Personal

When someone offends us or strains our relationship with them it is hard not to take that personally. When we take it personally we spiral into predictable patterns and responses.

argument 2

The solution, then, is to stop being “personal” about life. But that’s like saying, “Stop breathing!” We are so distracted by our inner self and our hopes, dreams, insecurities, fears, longings, and so on, that it is hard not to be “personal” about them. In fact, for many people, EVERYTHING is personal!

You stop being “personal” about life, not by numbing or destroying your inner self, but by resolving and releasing your inner self. When you find true love, joy and peace, with wholeness, confidence, trust in God, faith in God’s Word, release from your inner slaveries, and similar spiritual impacts of walking with God, your inner self is realised and released. You can then soar above the regular or even more challenging issues of life, like an eagle soaring high above a storm.

You will “mount up with wings like an eagle”!

Back to Earth

Eagle Shmeagle! What’s the point of this talk about eagles when you live like a Turkey among a bunch of Turkeys?! While soaring above the problems is your ideal and the goal of your life, the reality is that most people can’t even jump, let alone soar above the issues.

Humans are incredibly useless creatures. We are tied up in the things of our “flesh”, such as our pride, lusts, evil heart responses, sin, weakness, selfishness, independence, and so on. Man does not have the key to unlock his problems or the wisdom to plot his own path.

“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23

That’s why New Year’s Resolutions generally don’t work. Those resolutions rely on flawed creatures, who can’t save themselves.

Man’s hope is not in himself. It is not in the strength of will or the force of personality. It is not in controls and regulations. Man needs the input of the Divine to empower him to overcome the limits of the Temporal.

Lead Feet

Your lead feet keep you on the ground. Your lead feet are those things that hold you to the ground and make it impossible for you to fly. And that includes all of your “fleshly” aspects. Your flesh buys into life at the level of your self-interest, lusts, pride and folly.

“And the LORD said, My spirit will not always strive with man, because he is also flesh….” Genesis 6:3a

Your “flesh” is your lead shoes. If you can die to your flesh, you can soar. If you insist on protecting your selfish interests (your fleshly focus) you will never escape your problems and your slavery.

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24

Personal is Personal

Inter-“personal”- relationships are “personal”. They are ‘person to person’. The more open and honest each person is with the other then the deeper and richer the relationship. A formal relationship is not personal. And when one party is not interested in being open and honest with the other then deep relationship is not really possible.

Now, when an issue gets “personal” it is because it has impacted the personal limitations of one or other of the people. Something is only “personal” because it challenges the “person”. That’s why in some homes and communities certain things are discussed that others will never mention, because those things are too “personal”.

One person may speak openly about their failures while others take their whole life trying to hide any of their failures.

Personal Vulnerabilities

If you are full of personal vulnerabilities then just about everything will be personal to you. Those who are delightfully free on the inside don’t get personal about things that come up. They can face the issues without feeling their inner self compromised or challenged. They don’t have fears or shame to contend with. So the issue is a “light” one to them, while it is unbearably “heavy” to others.

So, the limitations upon interpersonal relationships relate directly to the quality of the persons involved. Tensions in the home result from each member taking things personally, based on their “flesh” perspective on life. The more pride, selfishness and unresolved issues a person has, the more things that come up will be “personal” to them. They will not be able to dismiss things or forgive others as freely as they should.

Predictable Patterns

Because humans are not free from their limitations there are predictable patterns which are repeated over and over again, through history. I will explore these patterns in greater detail in the next posts in this series. Allow me here to point out the predictable patterns which you will clearly recognise.

When women, especially wives, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tackle their husband or those they have taken issue with a tenacity that will not let the matter rest. Women tend to go on the offensive with words and persistence that may drive their husband crazy. He is likely to say, “She won’t let up!”

When men, including husbands, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tend to shut down and withdraw from the offender. If the offence is serious enough a man will erect barriers between himself and the offender. Those barriers can be completely impenetrable. A wife is likely to say, “He just shuts down and locks me out of his life!”

The Solution

The simple solution, and this is a perfectly real solution despite its simplicity, is to become free from “self”. When we live for God, outside our own selfish orientation, we can rise above the demands, foibles and limitations of our humanness and fleshly self.

We are not able to achieve that of our own will. We need God to make that possible for us. Don’t give up by saying, “I could never do that!” You are not supposed to do it. You are supposed to let God do it in you and for you.

So, no matter how much you have messed up your relationships there is a powerful solution. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And it will be wonderfully effective. And all of this will be more fully explained later in this series.

Marriage Moment of Truth

Marriages start out on an exciting note, full of happy expectation. Yet some of those marriages end up on the trash heap. At some point from the engagement to the divorce something went wrong. Whatever the challenges are that lead to a failed marriage other marriages weather the storm and come through stronger.

So, along the way from the proposal to the decree nisi there is some telling moment or development that tips the scales from success to sabotage; from freedom to failure; and from celebration to shame. So, we’re looking for the Moment of Truth in Marriage, where that tipping point is encountered.

Tipping Point

The Moment of Truth is that point in the couple’s journey where they make a decision, balk at a hurdle, draw a line or otherwise change the course of their relationship. What started as delight became bogged down with disappointment. Strife replaced celebration and the couple began to move toward the death of their marriage.

Now, the tipping point is not the same for each couple. Some couples know that it is all over by the end of the honeymoon. Other couples work together for thirty-five years before ending their marriage. For some there is a major shock, such as unfaithfulness, that bombards the relationship. For others some subtle, slow process sets in that eats away at the union.

This makes it hard to come up with a simplistic “tipping point” definition.

Attitude Not Action

The tipping point, or Moment of Truth, when a relationship takes a turn toward its own destruction cannot be built on an action. Marriages have proven to be incredibly resilient. Marriages have survived and even flourished after such tragedies and traumas as abuse, violence, adultery, death of a child, financial ruin, war, betrayal, attempted suicide, mental breakdown, and more.

The tipping point, then, is not an action. Instead it is an attitude. The attitude may spring to life in response to an action, but it is wrong to blame the action. Others have endured the same treatment, circumstances, disappointment, stress and so on, without destroying their marriage. So it must be firmly stated that the problem is NOT the action.

However, when a wrong attitude comes into the picture it can be poisonous, impossible to endure and persistent to the point of total destruction. The tipping point is the point at which a wrong attitude takes root, setting the course toward ultimate ruin.

Biblical Warning

Since the Bible is supremely relevant and current, we should expect it to speak clearly to this issue, and it does. There is a serious warning given in the New Testament which is probably directly linked to the Moment of Truth, or Tipping Point in marriage.

The Biblical warning is that people MUST give grace to one another. Specifically they are to give each other the “grace of God”. That means that they are to forgive each other, accept each other and be considerate of each other, in the same way that God is gracious to all of humanity. God gives sunshine and rain to both the good people and evil people. God is gracious, even to people who are campaigning to prove that God does not exist.

Humans, then, are to be ever willing to tolerate and be gracious to each other, just as God is.

But the warning goes further than that. The Biblical warning is that if a person fails to provide God’s grace to others the only alternative is that the evil attitude of bitterness will spring up in their life and lead to all kinds of problems.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:14,15

Let me paraphrase that text for you this way: “Be at peace with everyone. And keep yourself holy. If you are not holy you will never see God. Be diligent to keep on giving God’s grace to people. If you don’t a root of bitterness will spring up within you and agitate you. A root of bitterness will make trouble for many people around you.”

Key Moment

The key moment in your marriage is not how or where you propose. It’s not how long your engagement is. It is not the wedding day, or the wedding night. It’s not the honeymoon. It’s not your first year, or your first home. It’s not based on how soon the kids come along, or how many you have or don’t have. It’s not about how much money you have or whether one, both or none of you work.

The key moment in any marriage is that moment when one or other of the couple decides to stop giving grace to the other. When one person makes the internal decision, “I’ve had enough of that”, “I’m not taking any more of this”, “I won’t forgive them this time”, or something like that, they have tipped the marriage into the path toward destruction.

It is possible for a couple to come close to that point several times, and still survive. If the person tips back, changing their mind and forgiving, extending grace, accepting the one they had decided to reject, then they can undo the damage that has been done. But when they come to that point and decide to stick on that track, that’s when the end has been determined.

The Grace of God

The most valuable ingredient you can bring into any relationship, then, is the grace of God. A couple which has determined to always forgive and extend grace to each other will be able to ride over the ups and downs of their relationship.

Remember that bitterness only springs up when someone has determined to stop giving God’s grace. As long as the graces of forgiveness, compassion, acceptance, sacrificial commitment and such like are poured into a marriage that marriage can weather any storm or strain.

When the attitude turns from one that gives grace to one that digs in with hardness of heart, bitterness takes root and poisons the mind, attitudes, decisions and relationships.

Remember, the problem is not the actions experienced, but the attitudes taken up in response to those things.

Moments of Grace

Protect your marriage with moments of grace. Tip your marriage toward success and indestructibility. Determine, with God’s help, to give grace to each other. Determine to continue extending grace, God’s grace, no matter what.

Instead of having Moments of Truth and Tipping Points that turn your marriage into dust, have Moments of Grace and multiple Turning Points which turn your marriage back to God’s grace and God’s miraculous provision for your happiness and success.

Rejection 3 Heart Cry

The cry of the human heart is to be loved. And that sets people up for deep rejection experiences. And, as we saw in Rejection 2, this is somewhat out of our control, because we were designed as love receptors.

Above everything else that people seek, they want to be loved. And this yearning for love not only motivates us, but it brings people into some of their deepest pains.

Hidden Longing

People are unlikely to tell you that they are desperate to feel loved. It’s one of those things that people don’t talk about, especially in Western culture. So this deep heart cry to be loved functions as a hidden longing in the human heart.

People mask this longing by investing themselves in activity, success and a myriad other things. And, of course, people can find great meaning and value in things other than relationships. However, the hidden longing for loving care, affection, value to others and the like is still present in people’s lives.

Heart Crying

Not only is our desire to be loved our heart cry, our experience of not being loved makes our heart cry. Loneliness, hurt, fear, shame, heartache, pain, desperation, self-rejection, and many similar terms relate to the cry of the crying heart.

Now, people usually hide their pain, so you won’t often see this heart cry on someone’s face. Most people pull themselves together, put on their ‘stiff upper lip’ and soldier on. They may do so in hope that things will get better, or simply not wanting to add shame to their hurt feelings. However they come to it, most people cry on the inside, but keep up appearances on the outside.

Universal Pain

I expect that everyone has had moments of inner sadness and pain. A life without disappointment is hard to conceive. We all have hope for good things, and when those good things don’t materialise we have to work through a reality check, and then keep going.

So pain is a universal experience. Moments of crying on the inside are commonly understood. How we react to it and deal with it can be varied, but the initial pain is part of the human experience.

My Tears

I don’t know where my feelings of rejection and inferiority came from. I have asked God to show me and to date He has never made it clear to me. But I do know of times when I felt pain in my later years.

I can recall wetting my pillow with burning tears that ran down my cheeks late at night. I can recall the quivering lips as I tried to suppress inner hurts and disappointments. I can recall the intense feelings of insecurity, feelings of intimidation around people who made me feel inferior, and feelings of fear of being mocked or shown up in some way.

I can recall the burning heat of a face bright red with shame. I remember the burning eyes, streaming tears and glowing cheeks which I experienced too often.

I’m sure I am not unique.

Love is Powerful

That is why love is so powerful. Everyone wants to be loved. While you may not ‘love’ others in any emotional sense, you can at least care about them.

If you notice someone, talk with someone, listen to someone, show care to someone, meet someone’s needs, give consideration to someone, speak up for someone, take time for someone, you will have powerful impact in their life. That’s because everyone really wants to be loved.

If you are keen to build a bridge toward someone, then choose to make them special. Show them affection, care, compassion, consideration, respect, attentiveness, value, or the like and they will register that, unless they are totally closed to you or the world.

Important People

Someone once pointed out to me that the last thing I should ever casually talk about with a celebrity is what makes them famous. A person’s fame is usually the curse of their life. What they want to find is someone who values them as a person, not as a performer.

The same is true for people who are attractive. Many attractive women are annoyed by the amount of attention people pay to them. They learn to distrust the motives of people who look at them, smile at them and want to interact with them.

When you take an interest in the person for who they are, not for what they mean to you, you are giving them a very special gift. So always be ready to talk about the inane, or to find out what is important to that person. A star may be very relieved to talk with someone about their first dog, or the food they hate, or something equally as distant from their stardom.

The Power of Compassion

While you are still thinking about dealing with your own pain and need, take time out to show compassion to others. Remember, they have a heart cry to be loved.

Learn how to make others feel special. Learn how to listen to them and engage them in things that THEY value. Give them your time and your listening ear. Engage with their stories and their personal journey. Most people are blessed to have that kind of royal treatment, and some people are desperate for it.

Things are so bad today that people pay money to a therapist to simply listen to them and show some kind of understanding. Now that says something about how desperate the heart cry has become in Western society. Even family and neighbours are failing to show the care and concern that was once part of normal life. People are paying others to at least resemble what care and compassion look like.

Can you see a ministry opportunity in all that? I can. And I release you to go and do it!

How Relationships Work Part Four

Marriage relationships are strained by choices which people make or situations which people allow to operate to the harm of the union. In part three of this series we looked at how a person’s automatic ‘reactions’ are a big problem.

When someone presses our buttons we can shift into automatic mode and say and do things which are not good for the relationship, because we cannot control our reactions.

Making Demands

Relationships are also strained by the demands made by one or both of the spouses. Demands can be made overtly or almost subliminally, but still bring great pressure onto a marriage relationship.

When people don’t fit in with our hopes or expectations, or our perceived needs and wishes, we can easily look for ways to make demands on that person. I have seen it done very openly and boldly at times, to the point of public argument and putting on a ‘scene’ (as we call it). Yet I have had others seek help to deal with the insidious demands made on them by a manipulating spouse, even though no-one would ever suspect.

Making demands on our spouse is potentially a form of abuse. This is especially true if the demands spring from selfishness and wilfulness, rather than from a genuine concern for the good of others.

Idol or Idolater

Some people make demands on their spouse because they actually have an idol in their heart.

They may have thought at some time in the past that having a husband or wife would solve some of their personal pain and inner needs. By coming to that conclusion they have made their spouse into an idol.

When a person has made their spouse into an idol, expecting them to bring important blessing into their life, then they are likely to make extra demands on their spouse. They will have heightened expectations and be hurt and disappointed if the spouse does not fulfil their hopes.

Being an idol to your spouse is a tough role, since you are not God and will certainly fail them. Making an idol of your spouse sets you up for bitter disappointment, because they are just as human as you are and they will never be able to do in your life what you need God to do for you.

Disengaging Authority

It is possible in a marriage for a couple to disengage the correct authority structure which God has given them. When this happens the relationship gets tangled up and the couple are unable to resolve some of the tensions and problems which are created.

Authority is a divine mandate, so when it is violated in a relationship the union is damaged.

When a wife takes matters into her own hands she is violating her place of submission to her husband. When a husband turns off to the problems and needs he is violating his place of responsibility for his wife and family.

Authority in the home is clearly prescribed in the Bible and it does not work as well any other way. While there are many dysfunctional homes in which the authority structure is totally mangled, there is still no better way to run a home than according to God’s authority hierarchy. That hierarchy puts God at the top, Christ next, then the husband, then the wife, and then the children. Parents have authority over their children. Husbands have authority over their wife. Men must be under God’s authority.

Often in today’s Western relationships there is an agreement to share responsibility. This comes from the feminisation of our culture. Men have become ‘snags’ (sensitive new-age guys) and women have become assertive. But today’s Western preference does not discharge reality. Do not disengage the authority which God established in the home.

Diffusion Strategies

When a couple or family is given to arguments and upsets they need effective strategies to diffuse the tensions that otherwise emerge.

A key to effective diffusion strategies is to acknowledge godly authority in the home. God requires the husband to be the head of his wife and the children to submit to their parents. A wise and godly husband should recognise when tensions are developing, even if he created them, and he should employ godly diffusion strategies to protect the marriage and family.

A simple strategy is to acknowledge that tensions are mounting and feelings have become aroused. He can then insist that the matter be stopped immediately. If the issue is important, such as someone being offended, or some similar issue needing to be resolved, the father needs to determine the time and place when the matter can be followed up, without the current elevated emotions. He may dictate, “We will all have a fair say on this matter after dinner tonight, but I don’t want to hear another word about it until then”. Note, he must follow through on such arrangements, or he will be despised in his home.

He might diffuse a situation by referring the matter to God. “We’ve all had our say and we all know where we stand on this matter. I can’t see any happy way to resolve our differences, so we are going to all pray together about this and give the problem to God. We will then expect Him to bring us His wisdom in the coming week.”

Diffusion strategies are not designed to remove the problems or to bring the much needed healing. What they achieve is putting the brakes on run-away emotions and escalated tensions which will only lead to argument and further hurts.

Working Relationship

In a working relationship each person is a mature, responsible person, living in the fear of God. They are human so they will make mistakes, tend to selfishness and create problems in their relationships. However, they will be humble enough to admit that something is wrong, identify and rectify their fault, take appropriate responsibility for themselves and others and work proactively and constructively toward a godly solution.

The Relationships Series of Articles ….
Part One: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-1
Part Two:
http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-2
Part Three: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-3
Part Four: http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/relationships-work-4