My husband challenged me to go right to the Bible to gather any and all information that I could find to help myself, and perhaps, others through relationship struggles. We have had our share of struggles, and what I am finding is sometimes helping us.
I tend to get wrapped up in seeking advice through a person, reading a book or listening to a podcast. My husband doesn’t always believe what I’m reading. That is good. He needs to respect the source. There is no more respected source than God’s word and no better place to start than the beginning.
Some people have said that Adam was not really with Eve when she ate from the tree and that she, as all sinners do, wanted Adam to share in her sin and misled him to eat. The Bible clearly says that he was with her!
“and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,..” Genesis 3:6
The ESV Study Bible and MacArthur Study Bible, combined, make things a little clearer. Together they blame both parties equally, explaining further that there will be an ongoing conflict driven by sinful desire against God given roles.
“…Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
- The woman’s “desire” will be to oppose or assert leadership over her husband.
- The husband will abandon leading, caring for and guarding his wife, replacing it with his “desire” to rule over her instead.
At this point, either sex could attempt to make an argument over what came first. One could argue that the woman’s poor choice led the man to mistrust her, thus feeling a need to rule over her. Or one could argue that the man abandoned his role, by not intervening when Eve was misled, causing her to lose trust in his leadership, that led her to do the leading herself.
Regardless of who sinned first, by not abiding by God’s given roles, someone needs to gain enough godly maturity to reclaim their role, even if it’s not easy. The woman can take that responsibility, although it seems rather difficult (maybe impossible?) to ask someone to follow another who is not leading. Left in this position, she may try to force her husband to lead, telling him how to do it to every detail. She might be tempted to ignore the fact that her relationship with Christ comes first. Christ is to fill her needs and no sin-natured human can do that for her. God isn’t asking her to be a doormat either. She is to love and care for herself while still being loving, gentle, peaceful and respectful in communicating, with word and deed, her hearts concerns to her husband. Also she is to ask God to guide her attitude, actions and words with a submissive attitude and heart. (Please see submission posts. There is too much to add here.)
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives submit in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-24
Don’t worry. This does not mean blindly submit. Steven J. Cole writes:
“IN EVERYTHING” DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SAY YES TO EVERY DEMAND, IF IN SO DOING YOU ARE FOSTERING YOUR HUSBAND’S LAZINESS AND IRRESPONSIBILITY. If your husband is dumping his responsibilities on you or using you as his slave to cater to his laziness, you need to talk to him. He needs to be confronted with his faults in a gracious, but firm manner. To allow him to go on in his sin is not to love him as Christ commands you to do.”
The man can take the responsibility. Although it will be difficult to lead someone that doesn’t trust him to lead. In this position, he may try to force his wife to submit, defining submission for her in a way that is not biblical. He may put her submission to him above his love for her and his own relationship and submission to Christ. Likewise God isn’t asking him to allow his wife to emasculate him. He is to love his wife as his own body, not hating it but nourishing it as Christ does the church. He must stay submitted to Christ if he is to love his wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. Christ is his example of love and strength.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
Did you know that the wife is not responsible for the husband, but the husband is responsible for the condition of his wife? I’m sure glad I’m not responsible for him! LOL!
When a husband really begins to lead the family in a Christ-like manner, what woman could help but gravitate toward him as he bears the fruit of his labor? He can remain strong in his leading with love, gentleness and peace.
This kind of love also means he might have to get out of his passive comfort zone (his proverbial lazy boy chair) to sanctify or correct her, like Adam should have done in the garden. He should not have permissively allowed her to be misled into that unholy, blemishing act, let alone participate in it. To do this requires much gentle strength that can only be given by God, though His Word and relationship with Him.
If our marriages are to be an example of Christ’s relationship with the Church as in Ephesians 5 and apart from Christ we can do nothing, then what do we expect from our marriages if we don’t act on what we know?
Not just action of course, we can pray for these things, but prayer is not passive. We tend to pray for things, but use the excuse “let go & let God”. We ask God to lead our kids, but we don’t lead. We ask God to bring us closer to our spouse, but take no steps on our own. We ask God to change the world, but we’re not willing to be instruments of change. Pray:
”God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” -Reinhold Niebuhr
Learn the difference and do something! You can start with Ephesians 5 for your marriage and learn more about celebrate recovery for yourself and others.