The Curse Of and The Cure For Marriage
There are a number of passages in the Bible which are confusing or even insulting to many people. In today’s world, perhaps none more so than those which speak about husbands and wives in the marriage relationship [Ephesians 5: 22 – 23 & Colossians 3: 18 – 19]. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3: 18 – 19 To understand these verses, we must study them in context. And the background which provides this context goes all the way to the third chapter of the first book of the Bible. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, God tells them of the curses which will befall mankind (dying a physical death, having to labor to produce the food we eat, etc.). To Eve God specifically said the following. To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” Genesis 3: 16 When God first made man and woman from man, it was intended that their relationship was to be perfect, such that the two would become as one flesh. God is saying in Genesis 3:16, though, that the marriage relationship was now cursed along with the rest of creation. The English word translated as desire in this verse is an interesting word in the Hebrew in which Genesis was written originally and, I believe, is the key to understanding the New Testament verses about husbands and wives. There is another word for desire that is used as a noun or verb 50 times in the Old Testament and means exactly what we would think that word means in English. The word used for desire in Genesis 3: 16, however, is only used 3 times in the Old Testament and conveys a slightly different meaning. The next time this special word for desire is used in the Bible is just one chapter over, in Genesis 4: 7. Here, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain, had brought an offering to the Lord that God had not found acceptable. Cain then, we are told, became sad and angry. God’s response is captured in Genesis 4: 6 – 7. As we read through these verses, it helps us understand the meaning a bit better. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4: 6 – 7 We understand here that God is saying sin has a desire to control you, to manipulate you into doing things that are ultimately not in your best interests and contrary to your own good. This is what the word means relative to the curse that is now on the marriage relationship due to man’s sin. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words say of this word translated as desire in Genesis 3: 16 – it is a “strong urge to manipulate her husband”, setting up “a battle of marital wills”. The verses Paul wrote in the New Testament about husbands and wives is meant to counter the curse of Genesis 3. I believe it is accurate to rewrite the verses in Genesis 3 and Colossians 3 as something such as the following. God says in Genesis: One of the curses of sin entering the world is that the marriage relationship between a husband and wife will now have a tension – a battle of wills – that was not intended from the beginning. Specifically, the woman, normally being the physically weaker of the two, will seek to control the relationship through manipulation and emotional control. The man, normally being the physically stronger of the two, will seek to control by harshness or force, lording their dominance over their wife. Paul writes: The best way to overcome the curse on the marriage relationship in the Christian age is for the wife to not seek to gain control by manipulation. More importantly, husbands, you must truly love your wives as Christ loves His church. Husbands you must want what is best for your wives and be willing to sacrifice on their behalf. You can never get physical or use harsh, loud or threatening tactics to exert your power over her. What the Bible seeks to establish is a partnership where husbands and wives use their differences to compliment each other as helpmates in raising children and serving in the church. And what the Bible warns us to avoid is each partner succumbing to a natural tendency to instead clash over their differences in this marital battle of wills, each using the most powerful options they feel are at their disposal. Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.