Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Relationship Pyramid

Due to some internal COCUSA logistics I'm taking a one week break from the WITH Series.  I think I first did the "Relationship Pyramid" devotional in 2006 (maybe 2007) in a morning devotional at COCUSA.  Every summer since then one of our returning staff members requests that I repeat it.  So here it is in blog form.  (Note:  The original idea came from Chip Ingram and I've slightly adapted and expanded it.)

I know that when I was in high school and college it was really difficult to figure out the whole 'relationship' thing.  I wanted to pursue relationships with the ladies in a Godly way, but I really didn't know how.  I wish I had seen this pyramid previous to my high school and college years, because it really provides a framework for a Christ-centered relationship with the opposite sex.  (Note: If you're goal isn't to have a Christ-centered relationship with the opposite gender, you can stop reading now.)

This is what they pyramid looks like:
Now I'll describe it from the bottom up:
  • Spiritual: Is this person a committed follower of Jesus? We learn in II Corinthians 6:14 and I Kings 11:2 that this is a big deal.
  • Social: Observe the person socially.  Ruth 2 shows an example of this with Ruth and Boaz.  If there's red flags here, stop.
  • Interpersonal: Get to know each other. It's between this step and the next that "best friends" are made.  I don't have a specific scripture passage for this one, but I'm open to ideas?
  • Emotional: Keep your emotions behind God's leading.  Genesis 29:20 is an example of how strong emotional connection can be.
  • Physical: Come together physically. Hebrews 13:4 speaks pretty clearly on the correct timing of this.  If you're already married, Song of Solomon is the book for you.
What's happening in America today is a complete flip of this pyramid.  Physical attraction is the first and most important, and then we move backwards from their.  I'll let our current society stand as condemnation of how flipping the pyramid works.  (Hint: not well!)

Keep in mind, the last two blocks on the pyramid are not bad (they are actually awesome!) but they cannot be the foundation in a Christ-centered relationship.

One last note: Most Christians don't totally flip the pyramid.  What we have tendency to do (and what I did more than once in high school and college) is jumble the layers.  I'm not so shallow to put the physical first, but I'm not so spiritual to keep the emotional from being one of the first layers.

Building pyramids the wrong way doesn't usually work (real ones and relational ones).

So how's your relationship pyramid?


  1. How would this pyramid apply with non-romantic relationships, like with other members of the same sex, and especially w/ members of the opposite sex who are not being considered for a relationship (and you'd rather keep it that way)?

  2. Thanks for your comment. Care to not hide behind 'Anonymous'?

    I don't think this silly pyramid applies to much outside of non-romantic relationships. If you do a Bible search on 'One-another' you can find a long list of great advice for any (and all) relationships.