There are many things God says that are hard to accept for one reason or another. The truth is, agreement with God’s word and will are not naturally inherent in human nature. The unmarried desire sex out of marriage; the married are tempted with adultery. The rich want more out of greed and those who lack, think it right to steal. We just always have a natural inclination to go against God’s ways.
That takes me to my point in this article, specifically for women, and even more so for married women. What has God said to us as women?
In the Beginning
The first two chapters of Genesis depict a perfect world. No sin. Unhindered fellowship of God and man. Sweet fellowship of man and woman.
But then sin happened. And in response to sin, God made some pronouncements.
To the serpent He said “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
Hurrah, we say. That serpent deserves every bit of punishment he gets. My, aren’t we glad!
To the man He said, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
It’s an undebated norm in society. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:16a)
Childbirth is not easy, but we expect the pangs; we work with the pain knowing there’s the imminent joy of holding a newborn child.
But to the woman God also said, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16b)
Suddenly the world stops, and we need to discuss that one!
God must be wrong, right?
Like I’ve said before, it isn’t natural for humanity to comply with God’s expectations, but can you see the hypocrisy in how we have handled God’s decrees in Genesis? We accept, hands down, every other thing God said on that fateful day–except that last part; God couldn’t possibly mean what He said! A husband will rule over his wife?!
We may want to think that surely God’s very distasteful verdict for the woman applies only in the Old Testament. We wish! Let’s have a look in the New Testament at Ephesians 5:23-24. “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.”
Here we have the Holy Spirit proclaiming that the husband is the head of the wife, thousands of years after the Eden incident.
OK….but God only ended up saying what He said because of sin. It was not His original intent.
Well, if you look at it that way, it was sin that caused us to start wearing clothes. Should we all go naked now to reclaim God’s original intent? Sorry, friends, it doesn’t work that way! We can’t use our flesh to correct a mistake that God has already addressed.
The example of the Israelites
Take, for example the children of Israel fresh out of Egypt, on their way to the Promised Land. When their unbelief caused God to announce that He’d punish them with forty years in the wilderness, they suddenly had a change of mind. Oh, now they wanted to go and conquer Canaan! But God had already changed His mind. God had made a new decree, and He would not be with anyone who attempted to go to war against Canaan. Moses warned the stubborn set who insisted on going up against the Canaanites that God would not go with them. They went anyway and were defeated…of course…(Numbers 14:40-45)
But why should they have experienced defeat in a matter that was God’s original intent? The answer to that lies in the fact that God had changed things. He had moved on and had chosen to establish a new decree to handle the faithlessness of those ten unbelieving, doubt-inducing, rebellion-inciting spies.
Consider also Judah in the time of Jeremiah. After years and years of pleading with the Jews to repent, God had had enough. This time there was to be a siege and they would be required to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. Suddenly, blessing and preservation would no longer be centered on Jerusalem but on Babylon. No wonder Jeremiah was not the people’s favourite prophet! He was advocating for God’s chosen people, the apple of God’s eye, the dearly beloved of God’s soul, to leave their homeland and go settle in a heathen land. They were to marry, have children and pray for the prosperity of this foreign, idolatrous nation. Those who opted to stay in Jerusalem would do so to their own peril by sword, famine and pestilence. (Jeremiah 24:4-10)
Sometimes it is too late to repent. We just have to do the next best thing, which is to cooperate with God’s judgement. Yes, cooperate with it! Not try to restore righteousness our way and end up sinning all over again in the process!
Now back to the woman
God was not pleased with man’s fall. It was not His perfect will. But it happened, and in response to it, God changed some things. It is now good for us to conform to those changes God instituted. It would have been better to have refrained from sin. But there is now a new reality that God has established, and that is where His approval now stands. Any attempts to return to what existed before will not impress God.
Marriage is not a partnership of equality. Your husband is your head, my dear Mrs. To what extent you inquire? I’m glad you asked! Have you ever measured the extent to which Christ is the head of the Church? Well that’s the exact bar God uses to ascribe headship to a husband. (I know…swallow…take deep breaths…) There’s just no way around that. That’s the exact Scripture God used to shut me up on the matter of submission. “As Christ is the head of the Church…” How do you argue with that!?
So though we don’t like it, there’s a new order on earth. Husbands now rule over their wives, and that’s by God’s decree. Since it is by God’s decree, we are blessed when we obey it, subscribe to it and honour it. If we try to go around it, we cause problems for our families and our own souls.
Sarah called Abraham lord, and the Bible highly exalts her as a holy example for it (1 Peter 3:6). Let Sarah’s daughters arise and be the blessings God has called us to be!