How A Consumer Driven Mindset Affects Our Relationships
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. - C.S. Lewis
- We are a consumer driven society. Marketing experts have found ways to commandeer our attention and sway us to desire their products without us realizing it. Their slogans and commercials speak to our unconscious minds and drive us to the market place. The marketing expert, through his or her advertising, must convince the consumer that their product can provide them with something special, something that they need. Furthermore, the marketing expert must convince the consumer that their product can provide them with something that no other product can.
- This consumer driven mind set has a profound impact on our society’s views on everything, including our relationships. We have been subconsciously trained to think like a consumer, and we approach relationships with a similar mindset. We either consciously or subconsciously construct lists of criteria that our friends and significant others must meet. We, as consumers, become unhappy when that individual fails to meet our expectations, and we typically respond by either ending the relationship or providing that individual with an ultimatum. We see this mindset portrayed in songs, television shows, movies, books, and in our daily discourse. Our society proclaims that the ultimate mark of a healthy relationship is happiness, and that influences us to acquire that particular mind set.
You may think, "Man, this guy is a real downer," but I am not advocating against happy relationships, I promise. I do believe that our relationships should bring us joy, but I also think that this consumer driven perspective fails to provide us with an accurate view of relationships. I have been married for eight months and have learned a tremendous amount of information about my wife and myself. God tells us in Genesis 2:18 that, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” Man responds in Genesis 2:23 by saying, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Basically, the man was not fully himself without his partner. This does not mean that unmarried people are incomplete, but it does imply that relationships are vital for the flourishing of all human beings. We were made for relationships and therefore must take them seriously.
C.S. Lewis says that, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” Lewis bares further witness to the fact that we need relationships. We are unable to become fully us without them. I have grown exponentially in my eight months of marriage, and the most rapid growth I have experienced has come through some really tough conversations. These tough conversations have revealed the root causes of a lot of different sin issues in my life. These conversations are not always easy or jubilant, but they are truly transformative and I have become more like Christ because of them. These conversations are possible because my wife, Laura, who is also my best friend, is honest, godly, caring, loving, and truthful. Laura wants what is best for me, and she knows that includes me constantly applying the Gospel to every part of my self.
I am a more joyful person because of my relationship with Laura, but that does not mean that all of our experiences have been happy. We have had arguments, we have disagreed, we have hurt each others feelings, and we have wronged each other; but God has used it all to draw us closer to each other and, more importantly, to draw us closer to Himself. We are relational beings. Even society's most introverted member desires relationships. That being said, our view on relationships must line up with our creator’s view. Our culture tends to proclaim that hardships are signs that we need to end a relationship, but God says that love “endures all things.” We will not have lasting friendships unless we adopt this view of our Lord. We will not have marriages that last a lifetime, and, in result, we will not become the men and women that God has created us to be.
This concept of relationships may not be new to many of you. I came to this conclusion about relationships long ago, but I do not always function in light of this truth. I do not always steward my relationships well, and I am often times more influenced by the consumer driven model of relationships than I am by God’s model. Therefore, I need to remind myself of the truth, and I need to be involved in relationships with people who will remind me of this truth when I need it most. I challenge each one of you to seek out friendships in hopes of helping people become more human and therefore more Christ-like. Also, I challenge you all who are wanting to find a spouse to think about what your views are regarding a spouse. Are you constructing a list of attributes that your future spouse must encompass so that you may be a happier person, or are you praying for a godly spouse that will make you more like Christ for the glory of God? Our response to these questions drastically impacts the way we interact with others. God desires for us to love others well for His glory. I therefore implore you to steward your relationships well.