To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
This verse records a portion of the curse God placed upon mankind as the result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Most of us never stop to look up root words used in Scripture. We take for granted that the word, desire, means simply to long for, but it goes much deeper. The true definition may form the base of most of the trouble between men and women, especially between husbands and wives.
The Hebrew word used in that Scripture is tshuwqah (tesh-oo-kaw), which means stretching out after. Its root is shuwq (shook), which means to run after or over, to overflow or overrun. In other words, God has placed in woman the desire to overrun the headship of man.
But that is only part of the picture. Remember, the entire Scripture is a portion of a curse, and God’s edict, “And he shall rule over you,” is as much a curse on the man as it is on the woman.
God is saying to man, “You have chosen to disobey Me and be your own God; therefore, I will place conflict between you and your wife. It is unnatural for you to rule, but you shall rule, nevertheless. You will fail at this struggle because it is not in your nature; therefore, your wife will attempt to take over to offset your inability. The problem is that neither of you is capable of rulership because I am your God.”
That’s a real quandary. It may explain the National Organization of Women. But did God leave it there? Did He say, “You blew it, so live with it!”? No, He always provides a way out.
The problem is that very few of us ever see the solution. We know that men and women are created equal, but we have no idea how to put our families in order. We wrestle with Scripture and with each other but, though our intentions are good, we continue to fail.
The answer lies in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to give us discernment as we read:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also 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, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27
We should have no problem understanding that the curse placed upon man can be removed only by God as man submits to His rulership. The key is always obedience, and Christ is always our example. When we understand that principle, we see the solution.
It is the responsibility of the husband to present his wife to himself without spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless. It is not the responsibility of the wife to accomplish this on her own.
When she is holy and blameless, she is out from under that portion of the curse, and because her husband accomplished this feat through obedience and submission, he is out from under that part of the curse also.
How does the husband accomplish this? By washing his wife with the water of the word. It is the responsibility of the husband to see that his wife (and his family) is made clean through daily exposure to Scripture. They should read the Bible and discuss it together.
Through fulfillment of this directive of God, the husband becomes the priest of his household, and the wife submits to that office of priesthood. There is no strain on the part of either the husband or the wife, it is the natural outcome to an act of obedience. There may, however, be a time of discomfort for the wife if she has been the spiritual leader in the home.
When this simple act of obedience is ignored, the family is in constant struggle for harmony. Obedience to God always activates His positive power; disobedience activates the negative power of the enemy.
When God calls us to do something, He equips us to carry out His directive. This means every husband who is committed to a Christian walk will be honored by God when he accepts his call to priesthood.
This step of harmony with God’s will enables the husband and wife to walk side by side. They are “subject to one another.” (Verse 21), and the wife submits to the office of priesthood.
Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean, but not all of you.”
For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:10,11)
Jesus had washed His disciples (His bride, His church) with the water of His word, and He called them clean. Only Judas disqualified himself. He refused to receive the word of Christ as truth; therefore, he remained in sin.
A wife, likewise, may choose to remain under the curse of striving to grasp the rulership of the household. A husband may also ignore God’s directive and use the Scripture improperly to demand the submission of his wife.
Both are out of order. The husband and wife rule the household equally. If they are in harmony with the word of God, they will be in harmony with each other, that is a divine principle. A family should move on cooperation, not on competition.
It is seldom easy to coordinate a family time schedule for reading the word. A simple daily reading can be the answer. It takes only a few minutes and it most always provokes enlightening discussion. It is amazing what God can accomplish in a limited amount of time.
This call of God should not be ignored by any disciple. Like every directive from God, it takes faith and commitment. Always remember, obedience is the best way to keep the little foxes out of a flourishing vineyard (Song of Solomon 2:15).
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?