Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Triangle - or NOT!

I converted to Christianity in 1985. I don't know the exact date, but sometime towards the end of the year, perhaps November. It was the dry season in Panama, which sort of corresponds to winter in the United States. So, I've been a believer for over 22 years.

Since 1985 I have heard countless sermons, retreat talks, women's fellowship group talks, seminar classes, etc. in which a marriage between two Christians is described or illustrated by an equilateral triangle. Do my readers immediately recall the same visual? You know what I'm talking about, don't you? For the sake of those who might not, I will explain it. That will also make it easier for me to destroy the idea once you've come to understand it. *grins*

Before I begin, as I'm turning over a new leaf today, let me just say that my purpose in sharing this pet peeve of mine is not just to be crass or snooty. I'm not trying to prove that I understand God better than others. I say this out of genuine concern for believing women. It has been my experience that an incorrect view of marriage results in marital misery for women. (And I don’t know if “misery” is a strong enough word for what their husbands must endure) In the spirit of Titus 2:3-5, I want to instruct the younger women in both how to love their husbands and how to be obedient to their husbands. This must start, I believe with a proper understanding of the husband/wife relationship.
Now, on to the triangle! Picture in your mind (or draw it out on paper) a triangle. It doesn’t matter how long the base is, but the other two sides are the same length and meet at the top, directly above center of the base. Just to the outside of the bottom, right-hand corner, we write “wife”. Then we write “husband” just to the outside of the bottom left-hand corner. At the top of the triangle, we write “God”.

Here is an example:

The “triangle non-sense”, as I like to call it, goes like this: As the wife draws closer to God (picture a dot starting at her corner and moving along the leg of the triangle towards the top), and her husband simultaneously draws closer to God (picture a dot starting at his corner and moving along the leg of the triangle towards the top), the husband and wife will be automatically drawing closer to each other. As you can see on your diagram, if you drew it, the dots representing the husband and wife are closer together than they were when they were at the starting points at the base of the triangle. Proof that the only way to grow closer to your husband is to grow closer to God! Or is it?
What does the Bible say?
Is the “triangle non-sense” supportable by Scripture? Does the Bible give us any notion of a geometric type configuration including husbands, wives and God? I believe it does. I will quote the Scriptures, then describe how I think it would look if it were drawn on a piece of paper. Then I will explain how that is important for women wanting a harmonious, happy marriage.
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3
So, in attempting to draw that verse, I would draw a vertical line on my paper, right down the center. Then I would write “God” at the top. Passing down the line an inch or two, I would write “Christ”. A litter farther down, I would write “Man” (or “husband”), and under that, a bit farther down the line, I would write “woman” (or “wife”).
Now we have a vertical line instead of a triangle. Please permit me to explain what I believe are the flaws of the unbiblical “triangle non-sense” and extol the virtues of the “vertical line.”
Firstly, under the “triangle non-sense”, it is absolutely impossible for the wife to draw close to her husband completely on her own without forsaking her relationship with God. If she moves toward her husband along the base line, she is never growing closer to God. If her husband remains in his corner, and she draws nigh unto God, she is moving farther away from her husband! Even if they both are drawing closer to God, unless her husband and she draw closer at the same exact rate, they remain far apart for most of their lives. And even if they draw closer to God at the same rate, the couple will not be CLOSE until they reach God. If the husband is not a Christian, the wife is doomed to a life of distance from her husband or from her God.
But what about the “vertical line” theory? Here, if the woman attempts to draw closer to Christ, she can’t help but draw closer to her husband, because her husband is on the line between the woman and Christ. If the woman attempts to grow closer to her husband, she also grows closer to Christ! Without even trying! How does that happen? Why should that be?
In the words of my husband, “Could it be that the entire duty of a woman before God is to be a joyfully submitted help meet for her husband?”

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