This blog is third in a series on “The Ten Commandments of Healthy Relationship.” Have you ever tried to identify the ten most practical biblical principles for creating community and living together in harmony? Here’s my attempt.
#2: Thou shalt treat other adults like adults. I’ve drawn this principle from those familiar words of Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Aretha Franklin would probably sing it this way: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T; you don’t know what it means to me!” Now that we’ve all got the Queen of Soul testifying in our heads, let’s think about it what it would take to get more R-E-S-P-E-C-T for others pumping out of our hearts.
Apparently, living in this Age of Narcissism has tainted nearly all of us with this sense that each of us is King of the Universe. We live and breathe in a culture where the propaganda says that “tolerance” means all ideas are equally valid, all standards are equally true, all opinions deserve equal respect. The upshot is that everything I think and desire must be absolutely right as long as I think it and I desire it. So in the words of Aretha, “Sock it to me…sock it to me…sock it to me…[repeat quickly nine more times,] or “Hey! I’ve got a right to this!”
- Respect means that I always remain in my “adult” mode when I’m engaging with another human being. I refuse to shift into the “parent” mode, scolding another adult on how he should behave or what he should do. Nobody wants to be lectured. Likewise, I refuse to shift down into the “child” mode, demanding my way, my wishes, and my will. In fact, I refuse to act like a child even another adult slips into the “parent” mode first. When I’m dealing with adults, I insist on acting that way.
- Respect allows another adult to disagree with me. It’s not necessarily a problem when a married couple or a couple of friends don’t agree on some pressing topic. However, it can become a genuine mess when I demand that we have to settle it today, and that we’re going to talk/debate/argue until it’s done. It’s amazing how often time and grace can accomplish things that logic and passion won’t produce even if we quarrel all night. People who love each other can sometimes agree to disagree.
- Respect means I can enjoy the fact that a friend has different opinions or different habits than I do. On occasion, I can make attempts to gently persuade you or help you see the others side, but those attempts cannot be constant. And I must never behave as though my friend differs only because she’s stupid.
We’re all accustomed to raising that familiar question, “What would Jesus do?” It’s a fine question but, in fact, it’s never mentioned in the Bible. Another question is just as useful and is actually more biblical: “How would I like to be treated in this regard?” When I find the answer, that is how I should treat my friend or my spouse. I find that a little respect goes a long, long way toward healthy friendship.
Lift up the Cross!