Outside the Garden

The earth would now have to be constantly and tediously tended in order to bring forth provision. In Genesis 3:19, God said that in the "sweat of (his) face" -- laborious exertion -- would Adam now "eat bread," or provide for himself and his family. Because Adam did not protect his garden, he was now required to till the ground under that power of the evil one: Satan. At the end of verse 19, we learn of death in the flesh for the first time. God said that Adam (man) shall return to dust: his body would die, decay and eventually decompose.

 

Genesis 3:19 also shows us that, after the Fall, delineation of roles for husband and wife was now a requirement, for life would no longer be easy. God's admonishment to Adam regarding toiling for sustenance shows that it was clearly his responsibility to provide for his family. In his wife's completion of him, one might say that she should help him in this task; but God was clearly speaking only to Adam regarding the bearing of this responsibility.  Also, God had created Adam physically stronger than the woman, which indicates that even prior to the Fall, the tending of the garden was to be Adam's job. In addition, in verse 20 which immediately follows, Adam finally names his wife "Eve," because she was the mother of all living (up until now, she was referred to as "woman"). The Hebrew word used is chivah, which means life-source. Here we see woman's intended role: that of mother and all it implies -- nurturer, sustainer, caretaker of her family. And just as Adam's job was now difficult, so would Eve's be as well, for the bearing and rearing of children would no longer be easy under Satan's earthly influence.

 

After Adam fell, his "seed" became one of a sinful nature (death in the spirit and the flesh) which would be passed on to his children and their children, ad infinitum. As Dake's notes on Romans 5:12, "the whole race was in his loins when he sinned." 1 (see Notes)  With Jesus' death and resurrection, however the "good news" -- a literal translation of the word Gospel -- is that all men can be restored unto righteousness by being born again, accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and their spiritual natures redeveloped into fullness as we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, studying God's Word and walking in God's commandments.

Marriage in a Fallen World

 

     Remember we learned in Genesis 2:7 that man was created first, possessing the attributes necessary to fulfill his responsibilities here on earth.  Woman, on the other hand, was formed later as the "completing" factor for man, and as such was given the ability to be pliable; to adjust and "fill in the gaps" in their life together.  As easy-going and complaisant as the man in your life might be, if he is ever under pressure for any length of time or faces a serious decision in his life or your life as a couple, you're certain to see an inflexibility rise to the surface eventually.  When a man is spiritually grounded and emotionally mature, his wife can trust in his decisions and lean on this "rigidity' as a solid support in their life.  However, when a man lacks these qualities, this inflexibility emerges mainly from selfishness and seeps into his other relationships as well:  men tend to compete rather than compromise.  By contrast, women universally seem to share a spirit of self-sacrifice and cooperation for the most part.  Secular studies have shown that women deal with change better than men; they are generally more able to accomodate adverse situations; and they work together more effectively, with personal interests aside, to achieve a common goal.  It is a quality that stems from maternal instinct, a part of woman's God-given ability to adapt, and it is common to all women -- mothers and non-mothers alike.     

     Even in a fallen world, God still intended for men to kind, loving, and spiritually mature; to love their wives as they would their own bodies (see Ephesians 5:28); and to recognize the marriage relationship as paralleling that of Christ and His Church (see Ephesians 5:25-27).  Men's failure in this area has caused varying degress of phsical and psychological discomfort in women's lives all over the world.  E.W. Kenyon, again in his book The Father and His Family, expounds on the enmity between Satan and the woman and its effects:

     "This is proved by woman's history; she has been the special object of Satanic hatred and malice in all ages; she has borne the brunt of the Fall; she has been the burden bearer among all peoples; she has been bought and sold as common chattel.

     Only where Christianity has reached the hearts of a country has woman ever received any treatment that would lift her above the brute creation.

     She is unwanted at birth, the plaything of men's passions, the neglected, the outcast, the sufferer, and in Christian countries she is ... the victim of the divorce court.

     ... married women of this country suffer on account of their husband's having sowed 'wild oats,' and 'sowing wild oats' means sowing our manhood for Satan's reaping." 2 (see Notes)

"Wild oats" refers not only to evils of a sexual nature, but also any harmful associations, business endeavors or compulsions that a man allows to enter his life, thus affecting his wife and family.

Women's Liberation?

       Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

       The feminist movement has undoubtedly brought about some positive changes which protect women living in an ungodly marriage and and often hostile society.  In its most uncomplex form, it is woman's answer to oppression the enmity factor has caused:  liberation from men who are unkind "rulers" and who do not know how to function spiritually as God intended, even in a fallen state.  But feminism remains woman's "pulling away" from God's instituted role for her after the Fall and, as such, its long-term effects can only be detrimental to society as a whole.  This is because the traditional family unit, the cornerstone of society, is threatened most.  Woman, i.e. wife and mother, is the nucleus of the family; if her role is altered, then the family structure is altered, and the extent of the damage that ensues relates directly to how much the wife and mother's role has changed. 

     As the women of a society continue to move towards more and more independence and control, it logically follows that the men of that society will be rendered less and less potent.  The need for men to excel in every facet of their God-given roles will no longer be there if women can be depended upon to continually pick up the slack, or even take over if necessary.  As men men become less and less needful and thus unchallenged; less and less able to be everything God intended them to be for a wife, family and society, "husbands" in the traditional sense will eventually be few and far between, and women will find themselves in the position of having to assume ever-increasing responsibilities that men no longer fulfill.

     With the great strides women have made in terms of opportunity in education and commerce, a husband is not absolutely necessary for financial support, even in upper socio-economic levels,  With artificial insemination and legalized adoption for single parents, a husband is no longer necessary to have children and raise a family.  We're beginning to see noticeable fewer traditional families, since these factors have steadily taken root over the last four decades.

     God gave us a better way, found in 1 Peter 3:1-6.  It is one of utilizing our God-given ability to adapt ourselves to our husbands -- their personalities, their habits, their ways of living -- and leaving the Lord, Who is the Righteous Judge, to facilitate changes necessary in them and in our relationships with them, through prayer.

     Granted, it is often difficult for a wife, even one who is spiritually grounded and mature, to deal with problems in her marriage and in her husband's treatment of her according to God's Word, and here again we see the importance of a woman's choosing the right man for a husband at the outset.  However, this adapting, or "submission" as the Scripture renders, because it is in direct accordance with God's admonition to Eve, is what prompts God through a wife's prayers to work on a wife's behalf to right a wrong.  The results are quicker and more complete than attempted liberation from her husband's lordship.  When a woman contends with her husband for control, one of two things will happen:  either she will never get it, and continue to spend her days in varying degrees of strife; or, her husband will finally give in and let her have "the reins," but her victory will be at the expense of her marriage and and otherwise complete and fulfilling relationship with her husband, as well as ultimately reducing her respect for him.

Peter's Teaching to Christians

     Let's look at 1 Peter 2:21 through 1 Peter 3:6.  Peter is speaking directly to Christians in this passage:

 

2:21  "For even to this were you called -- it is inseparable from your vocation.  For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps.

   22  He was guilty of no sin; neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips.

   23  When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.

   24  He personally bore our sins in His [own] body to the tree [as to an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness.  By His wounds you have been healed.

   25  For you were going astray like [so many] sheep, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Guardian (the Bishop) of your souls.

  3:1  In like mannner you married women, be submissive to your own husbands -- subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them.  So that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not be discussion but by the (godly) lives of their wives,

     2  When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband.  That is, you are to feel for him all that reverence includes} -- to respect, defer to, rever him; [revere means] to honor, esteem (appreciate, prize), and [in the human sense] adore him; [and adore means] to admire, praise be devoted to, deeply love and enjoy [your husband].

     3  Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or change of clothes;

     4  But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle andpeaceful spirit, which (is not anxious or wrought up, but) is very precious in the sight of God.

     5  For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were (accustomed) to beautify themselves, and were submissive to their husbands -- adapting themselves to them as secondary and dependent upon them.

     6  It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham (following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by ) calling him lord -- master, leader, authority.  And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you -- not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you."

 

     When Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:1 that wives should submit to their husbands, he was giving instructions that was in accordance with God's new order in Genesis 3:16 -- that a husband would rule over his wife -- and, because it is in line with God's Word, would result in harmony and a happy and blessed home.   Within this framework God, again, the Righteous Judge, will step in to answer prayer and correct whatever is not working properly. 

     As Peter stated in the preceding passage, 1 Peter 2:21 - 23, wives are to use Christ as their example.  Christ was guilty of no sin, yet "when He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return," but instead trusted everything to the Father to judge fairly.  God knows a husband may not always be right:  in his actions, his judgement, his ethics; his treatment of his wife and children as well as others; but this way of living with our husbands is what opens the door for God to work on our behalf and answer prayer.  Strife and contention, on the other hand, only leads to Satan continuing his work, which results in a vicious cycle of destruction that continues to spiral downward.

     If we as wives can understand that the emotional bind and mutual respect between husband and wife that creates a true, fulfilling closeness was present before the Fall, it gives us a much clearer picture of what God had in mind for man and woman and their life together here on earth.  Armed with this understanding, when we work within God's new structure according to 1 Peter 3:1-6, a harmony ensues that makes marriage complete and genuinely joyful, with God's intervention whenever necessary.

     When a wife decides to act in accordance with this scripture, trusting God to repair problem areas, it's important that she remain steadfast in faith and prayer until the changes take place.  We have a tendency to take things back into our own hands, out of impatience or thinking that God hasn't heard us.  In this was, a wife is no better off than any before her who has simple adapted herself to adverse conditions in her marriage, without the benefit of God's help.  Resist the temptation to take control back from your faith in God, for His answer will be complete and long-lasting.

Queen Esther as Example

     The book of Esther gives us a perfect example of a woman who worked within God's provisions to her advantage, and the advantage of her people:  Queen Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia during King Ahasuerus' reign.  Her people were delivered from a plot within the king's court to exterminate the Jews, all because of her honor to her king, her respect for his authority, and fervent prayer.  His love for her, in turn, caused him to grant her wish and spare her people.  What is important to note is that Queen Esther's submission to her husband was not done out of manipulation, but rather from a heart that wanted to please God.  She totally ignored her own fears and desires and acted humbly before God and the husband He gave her.  God knows our hearts; when we act out of pure motivations within the spiritual knowledge we have, God steps in on our behalf.