I have often felt that the gospel according to John should have been the first book of the New Testament, simply because of the umpteen parallels between Genesis and John. However this is not the topic I want to talk about today. I would like to focus on 2 verses one from Genesis and the other from John.
[Genesis 3:16] says “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” This verse is not so popular especially with women as it doesn’t bring good news to them. However it’s contemporary verse in the New Testament is quite the opposite. [John 3:16] says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. This is definitely the sweetest good news anyone can hear.
The first verse talks about sorrow and is a form of death because until then there was no sorrow that the woman had to experience. In addition, it talks about being subject to the rule of the husband. While the second verse talks about life eternal, this is every person’s greatest desire. See the contrast. The first is about a fall and how beginning from having eternal life to losing it, the second is about restoration and how beginning from not having eternal life to gaining it. Why am I bringing this up? Because we are looking at restoration and that’s exactly what we’ll see today.
Let’s rewind a bit before [Genesis Chapter 3]. God created the human being called “man” in his image and likeness. Do we have a separate male God and a female God? No. So He did not create a separate male and female human being. God wanted to have a relationship with man that would be like marriage (Isn’t this the picture we get right from Genesis to Revelation?). So man would have God not only as his soul-mate but also as his spirit-mate. But man could not see this and wanted a human partner, so God made woman. Was God angry and thus created the woman? No. God is love and love is not self-seeking [1 Corinthians 13:5], remember. He very much blessed the union of man and woman and like the Holy Trinity, God still wanted to have a marriage like relationship with man and woman. If you notice the woman was ‘built’ out of man and not created. Why? Because when God completed his work and rested, he really completed his work and left nothing unfinished and rested. To create a woman after he rested from his work would mean that his creation was incomplete and he would have to go back to the drawing board. This means that Adam had all the qualities and traits of a man and woman created inside of him. Wow Adam was special at this point because no other human being in future would be like him in this state.
But God saw that Adam found no suitable helper for himself [Genesis 2:20]. Now God wanted Adam to depend on him and let him be Adam’s helper – Many people would call this blasphemy, God the creator – a helper to man? But let’s remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, that he would be a helper to us [John 14:26]. Let me point out that the word helper doesn’t mean ‘slave’, so please don’t be offended to call God our ‘helper’, He is the only true one who can help us. God the provider and helper of Adam and Adam the bride of God – Does this ring a bell? But for Adam looking into the physical realm all he felt was loneliness and God remedied the situation for him, by ‘building’ Eve from his rib.
Here we have God, Adam and Eve, three distinct beings, yet at this point they were enjoying a very special relationship which just began. Man and woman as separate beings was not the original plan of God. However because of love, God modified this plan. I want to pause here and reflect on a few things:
Did Man rule over woman at this point?
Did Woman have any experience of sorrow or pain?
Ultimately man and woman’s desire was God and the only way they could become one was with the help of God, as they come closer to God, they come closer to each other as we see in the God-Man-Woman triangle. Therefore with the coming of woman began a new understanding of the marriage relationship. Man and woman would become one through the flesh, yet their union could only hold together through their own individual union with God in the spirit. So once again God the provider and helper of Adam and Eve and Adam and Eve through their union as the bride of Christ – the picture hasn’t really changed. So even in this modified plan of God everything was still in harmony. Man and Woman would combine and rule over the earth and other creations because they were one. Now we know what happens if man and woman are not one, so I’ll not get into that.
But then [Genesis 3:6] happens and the harmony is disturbed leading to [Genesis 3:16-19]
Spiritual death meant God could not in-dwell Adam and Eve and they had to bear the consequences. God still loved them no less and he cared and provided for them [Genesis 3:21]. But now the whole equation changed. Their spiritual union with God was disturbed. Therefore when God uttered these words from [Genesis 3:16-19], it was not like God was ticked off so he gave them a piece of his mind. Instead God through his foresight knew that the spiritual disharmony would bring in lots and lots of issues for man and woman, therefore he prophesied over them about the result of their disobedience.
When we are spiritually one with God (and we need to be conscious of it) then no matter how much a person tries to inflict pain or suffering, it doesn’t hit us – This is the secret to dealing with persecution which Paul and the other disciples of Jesus demonstrated – in fact they even righteously bragged about it. However, even if we are followers of Jesus, yet we aren’t conscious of our oneness in spirit with God, then the smallest of insults can seem like a very deep wound. Have you experienced this? I have, and only much later began to realize that it’s because of my self-centeredness I couldn’t benefit from my union with God.
Therefore pain, sorrow, sickness, grief etc. wasn’t the original plan of God. However disobedience to God’s word brought about these things. Moreover when God said “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”, one would say isn’t it a good thing for a wife to desire her husband? But this isn’t talking about that desire which brings harmony in a relationship; instead, it is about the desire to contend with the husband. Similarly God isn’t giving husbands a licence to rule over the wife; instead he is advocating responsibility to the husband to take charge of loving, caring and providing for her (something which God would have done as their provider and helper while dwelling in them). So in a way of sorts, the beginning of marital problems had begun from this moment on.
I think it’s pretty obvious that if these problems are to be reversed, man and woman need harmony in their relationship. Neither man nor woman should think that either one of them is greater than the other. They must realize it is Jesus who needs to be the center of their lives so that the God-Man-Woman triangle brings them closer to God and thus closer to each other.
With this understanding let’s look at what Paul had to say in [Ephesians 5:22-33]
V 22-24 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything”
Why then should wives submit? The word submit in today’s world has too much of a negative meaning. When we hear the word ‘submit’, we also hear tend to the word ‘dominate’ and that’s where the problem is. Submit definitely means yielding without a doubt but not to a fearsome force, instead it means yielding to a servant-leader (Remember the washing of the feet by Jesus [John 13:3-14]). Did the disciples ever feel threatened to submit to Jesus? One would think that Peter of all the disciples would have been the first to rebel and leave the group if that was so. Even the one, whose heart was not upon following Jesus and was only there for the money, felt ashamed of tricking Jesus and committed suicide. Well women, this is the leadership you are being asked to submit to. Now I know that some husbands don’t even come close to this model revealed by Jesus, but remember that it cannot happen in a day, and as the husband gets closer to Jesus, the wife will see this in him. Then you will truly appreciate his headship just as the husband becomes a true reflection of Christ. The more you see Christ in him the more you will want to submit. Therefore this is also a challenge to the husbands for whom the next few verses are written”
V 25-31 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
Women, in these verses, do you see the word ‘dominate’ or anything that is even remotely similar in meaning? Which woman wouldn’t want her husband to love, nourish and cherish her. Men, what can you see in these verses? I think the word ‘responsibility’ is the number one thing that comes to mind. Christ gave his life for the church, what does that mean? If the husband has learnt how to come close to Christ (by denying self), then this needs no explanation, if not then first get closer to Christ then start to look at how you need to deal with your relationship with your wife. Only when we are one with Christ (our spirit mate) can we truly experience what it is to become one in flesh (our human partner)
V 32-33 “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Well it no longer is a mystery to those who are one with Christ [1 Corinthians 2:12-13] and Paul sums up his advice by reiterating that God’s unconditional love should be bestowed upon the wife by the husband and that the wife receive, honor and yield to this love.
Therefore I would like to encourage you that even if your marriage is not going well, you can start your journey of experiencing oneness with Christ. This will result in changes within you that you may not see, but your spouse will notice. Once you have a revelation of being one with Christ then go all out to conquer your marriage much like in the movie ‘Fireproof’ – I highly recommend this movie to those who haven’t seen it and are interested in the restoration of their marriage relationships (here is a link to the movie’s trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJgv378YiYI). Moreover when your focus changes to Christ, he fulfills all your desires and you will be satisfied with his unconditional love even though your spouse may not respond positively, but leave everything in God’s hands and he will do the rest. Jesus did not come just to bring us a promise of abundant life after we die, but he gave us a promise of this abundant life right here right now and with his help you can experience it beginning today.