Radically Different Relationship

There is a radical thought that emerges from the teachings of Jesus—that your relationship with God matters more than your relationship with anyone else. In Luke 14 the idea is expressed that you must hate everyone else in comparison to God, even your own life if you want to be a disciple of Christ. Matthew takes the same idea in chapter 10 and says if you love your family more than Jesus you cannot be his disciple.

This idea is expressed in what Jesus called the First Great Commandment—to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body. The Second Great Commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. These commandments give us the basis of what Jesus called the “narrow way”. The guidelines on the narrow way are based on a love relationship with God that honors the call of God above all other earthly concerns. They put the path of following God on a Spirit level—a spiritual calling—that unites us with our soul calling and true purpose for living and being.

The implications of this calling, this path of discipleship puts our relationship with God, our soul covenant, on a level above our human relationships. If we have to dishonor our soul’s purpose and calling in order to stay in a relationship, then that relationship becomes an obstruction to our relationship with God.

At its most basic level—this is the definition of idolatry—putting something else in the place of God. At the level of human relationship—this is the definition of adultery—putting someone else in the place of the Beloved. It does not mean that we dishonor people in order to be in relationship with God, it means that we honor God more than the relationship with others. God must be first and foremost and the calling and demands of God supreme—anything else is idolatry and is evidenced in an adulterous relationship.

In other words, when we are in relationship with another, for example, in a marriage with someone who does not allow us to be in a relationship with God fully, living out our soul’s purpose and covenant, than that relationship stands not as a symbol of our perfect relationship with God (the true definition of marriage) but as a hindrance and obstacle to our relationship with God (the true definition of idolatry/adultery).

You can see why this type of thinking and teaching was offensive to the religiously elite of his day and why it inspired hope in the religiously abused and despised. To a woman, these are words of hope and healing—especially to a woman in a relationship where she is nothing more than an object to be used domestically and sexually.

Ironically, within the Christian realm the abuse and subjugation to the will of man of women is commonplace. In fact, the scriptures are used to justify the oppression and abuse of women. In reality, Jesus taught something radically different. So different, in fact, that he was put to death.

The basic teaching is that our soul covenant—living out God’s will in our life—is the most important concern in our life, above and beyond the concerns of familial relationships which of course, includes marriage. Marriage is the symbolic institution of our relationship with God. It should, ideally, helps us to become everything that God wants us to be. When it oppresses and discourages the soul from opening, it must be considered, at some point, that one needs to move beyond it.

This idea brings to mind the words, “What does it profit a man (or woman) if one gains the whole world, but loses one’s soul.” If we save an earthly relationship, but fail in our relationship to God, what have we really accomplished? If we stay in an abusive relationship and fail to do the work we have come to do, what does it profit anyone?

This is not opposed to Jesus’ teaching on divorce, but is in actuality, in support of it. He defined adultery as a heart condition, not just as acting out in a physical manner with another man or woman. Adultery takes place in the heart as a result of lusting after someone else. This definition is so broad that to understand it we must see it in its spiritual application. It goes back to Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s own life, family, or others more than God.

True love is always inclusive. It does not shut out but draws in. True love to God allows us to love others, including our families and spouses more, not less. It restores relationships. When one realizes the true aspect of love, it allows one to move out of relationships that refuse to love and honor. The key word here is refuse. Free will is always supreme. Love is never compelled. In marriage if love is not supreme and one refuses to love and honor the other, then it is imperative to move on. The moving on does not condemn the other, but allows for the growth of the other and of one's self. There is no blame or shame.

This is the radical freedom taught by Jesus. With expanding freedom comes increased responsibility and accountability. It is not a teaching of irresponsibility. It is a teaching of greater accountability to God and to others. It does not, however, teach tolerance of abuse to woman, children, or others in any way nor does it encourage us to stay in destructive relationships of any kind. It also reminds us that our relationship with God and being true to our soul's calling is supreme over any earthly relationship.