In addition to this suffering, the curse of sin also brought great conflict into the marriage relationship (and more generally into male/female relations as well). Genesis 3:16b notes, Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. One of the reasons why conflicts exist in every marriage relationship is because the wife tries to usurp the husband’s role as “head”.
Let me prove this to you in verse 16 of Genesis 3. The word translated desire (teshuqah) is a very unusual Hebrew word. In this specific Hebrew construction I concur w/Dr. Grudem’s understanding, the word implies an “aggressive desire.” What that means is that according to verse 16, woman’s desire to take the reigns and lead man is a direct result of the curse. To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
The only other occurrence of this Hebrew word, plus the preposition el, (against) in the entire Bible is found in Genesis 4:7. In this passage God was warning Cain of sin’s power. Genesis 4:7 says, If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. According to one scholar the expression in 4:7 has this sense, “Desire, urge, impulse against, a desire to conquest or rule”.
Back to Genesis 3. “Your desire shall be against your husband.” What exactly did God mean here? Eve now has an inward impulse (a sinful desire) to resist her husbands God ordained headship. I know you married women know what I’m talking about here. It’s that internal desire that fights Biblical submission. All of us experience this sinful desire when we wrestle against any level of Biblical submission.
Another tragic consequence of the curse is found at the end of verse 16; And he shall rule over you. The word “rule” (v. 16b), does not signify one leading another equal, but rather one who rules by virtue of strength and power. This type of male leadership is often done in a selfish manner. All of us should admit that man’s rule is sometimes harsh, oppressive, and forceful. We could point out hundreds of examples of domineering rule in history past. Many husbands try to lead their wives, but not necessarily in a God-honoring way (note Ephesians 5). Many men try to lead people, but not necessarily in a Christ-exalting way.
Don’t miss this now: This male/female relationship conflict mess exists as a direct result of the fall. Men do not always lead the way God ordained them to lead and women do not always help the way God them to help (and/or follow). If you’re married or have observed any marriages over any period of time you know exactly what I mean here.
You do understand that prior to Genesis 3 Adam and Eve lived in PERFECT harmony, right? Adam would have been the perfect man that God designed him to be. He would have been a servant-leader. He would have been a selfless-leader and he would have been a loving-leader. And Eve would have been the perfect woman that God wanted her to be: a selfless helpmate.
Can any of you (who are not single) even imagine what it would be like to live in a truly perfect marriage? Some of us use an exaggerated expression, “I have a perfect marriage” but all of us know that is not totally true. Pastor Flatt and Judy don’t really have a “perfect” marriage, nor do Andrea and I. Even the exemplary husband (Stuart Scott) and his wife (Zondra) don’t have a “perfect” Christian marriage. Redeemed sinners living in the fullness of the Spirit enjoy the blessings of this covenant relationship. Yet no Christian couple has a truly (pre-Genesis 3) “perfect” marriage relationship. Sin and sin’s curse affects all of us. It affects our relationship with the opposite sex including our wives and for you ladies your husbands. This series will be continued…