Membership Has Its Privileges


When American Express coined the advertising phrase, “Membership has its privileges,” they were explaining a fundamental principle that governs human relationships. Privilege should be commensurate to commitment. In other words, a person should be rewarded for her commitment. And conversely, one shouldn’t enjoy special benefits if he is uncommitted. This principle can be captured in the phrase, “Equitable Privilege,” or more simply, “Commitment Reward.”

Sin can be seen as a violation of “commitment reward.” For example, if I steal a candy bar from the store I am seeking to enjoy a privilege (the candy bar) without having to make a commitment (paying for it). In relationships, if I demand intimacy with someone I am not committed to I am pursuing an inequitable privilege. I want a reward (closeness) without the cost (commitment). This is why sex outside of marriage is wrong.

In my previous post I listed six “C’s” that are crucial for having relationships that are close. In essence, these six “C’s” are explaining “commitment reward.” They clarify what are the conditions and costs of friendship. It is simply unreasonable, and unethical, to expect or demand closeness in a relationship if we don’t fulfill the necessary commitments that make friendship possible. No matter how you look at it, this natural law governs relationships.

Community is fundamentally about creating friendships. This won’t happen by magic. It’s only as we purposefully commit to being the kind of people that trust and love others that our friendships grow, and as a result, we’ll see the will of God done on earth as it is in heaven.