Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Linda Downing

We need to redefine relationships

Published:   |   Updated: May 2, 2013 at 09:24 AM

The word "relationship" has been so overused and under-lived that it would be better banned or labeled "archaic." The need exists, however, a human yearning for close, sustained attachment. Is it possible? A week into 2010, its lack explains the loss so many feel in the world at large and themselves in particular.

Of all the 2009, end-of-the-year summaries, Walt Belcher's "Their Cheatin' Hearts" in The Tampa Tribune could be the most hopeful. Hope? In exposing "a banner year for cheaters"? We need reminding that surface may not be reality. If nothing else, perhaps South Carolina's Gov. Mark Sanford single-handedly wiped out the popularity of that misguided term, "soul mate."

Who would imagine the humorous "I'm Too Sexy" song, topping American charts for three weeks in early 1992, as prophetic? The singer declares himself "too sexy" for, among other things, his love and his shirt. Almost 20 years later, sex-emphasis renders us truly insensitive to a deeper, spiritual connection. Out-of-control egos lost love and money, literally "losing our shirts."

The power of that once-respected declaration, that there are certain things we won't do "for love nor money," is intimately tied to relationship with both. Belcher's article quotes Rabbi M. Gary Neuman: "Having an emotional attraction is the overwhelming reason why men cheat." They seek to "feel valued and appreciated."

Marriage is not doing that for us. In 2006 census figures analyzed by The New York Times showed married couples slipping into a minority. In early 2009 a report in the Ladies Home Journal exposed married people as nearly six times as likely as singles to visit online dating sites to find a serious relationship.

Social and economic implications are visible to all in 2010. The Christian church world, desiring input into the nation's definition of marriage, loses clout when its own statistics are no better. Lisa Townsel wrote in a 2008 Charisma article that highly visible ministers returned to pulpits after their divorces "as if nothing had happened."

At the beginning of 2009, money remained the leading cause of arguments among U.S. couples. By the end of 2009, Jay Lindsay of the Associated Press wrote that desperation is driving many to study Bible-based financial strategy. In the financial downturn the message resonates: debt reduction, simpler living, faith in God's provision.

However, we need a warning. Though love and money problems may stir biblical interest, the seeker will not find instant or magical answers. James Hudnut-Beumier, author of "In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar," encourages us to look higher for an account of God's relationship and enduring love for humanity.

Belcher's "cheaters" hit a wall. So have we all until we know that relationships are impossible when out of proper order. All great literature recognizes the conflict and solution: man with God; man with himself; man with others; man with stuff. That's why we are back to the starting gate: "In the beginning God..." (Genesis 1:1).

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at


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