Title: God’s Original Design, Where We Went Wrong, Where We Go From Here
I want to commend you for wanting to make your marriage better. I want to assure you that no matter how inadequate each of us who are going to speak in this series are, time spent to improve your marriage is the best-spent hours of your life! Just the fact that many of you ladies got your husband here blows me away!
Our format is going to be very relaxed and I want to make this as helpful and practical as we can make it. Questions & comments are welcome. Please try to keep it short so that others can share as well. We will break down into small groups where you can share and apply what we talk about.
Today’s topic (read title).
Marriage was conceived in the heart of God. Since He dreamed it, there’s no better design. If we follow that design, our marriage will experience it’s greatest joys and we will find our greatest strength together. Let’s look at His original design.
Gen. 2:15-17 Notice God gave the instructions to Adam before Eve was made. Adam passed them on to Eve because she quotes the instructions when she talks to the serpent in 3:1-5.
Gen. 2:18-23 Notice the Word says it’s not good for man to be alone. Adam had no companion; he was incomplete. Mates were intended from the beginning to be close to one another. “Helpmate” = Heb. – ezer = aid, helper, counterpart, wise counselor. From those definitions we can conclude that the one we choose as a spouse needs to be one of a kindred spirit. The same word in Gen. 2:18 is used in Ps. 20:1-2. Though this is in reference to the Lord, I think Adam would agree that his helpmate was given to him from on High, from the sanctuaries of Heaven. We need to consider our spouse as just that…given to us from on High – and such a great gift needs to be cherished and treated as a gift of great honor. God looked down on Adam and saw that there was no creature in all creation that his soul could identify with, so He made Eve. What he lacked, she supplied. What she lacked, he supplied.
I want to expand on the word “helpmate” to help us understand God’s original design of marriage. The mate you choose ought to be one you can reciprocate your feelings with and take part in your life-goals. In the beginning God’s design was for a spiritual partner in helping them obey God together and assist in ministry in the Garden. A wife is to be man’s friend to offer comfort and fellowship, encouragement and inspiration – not someone inferior! Notice what is not here in these verses: there is no instruction on headship. There was no need of that here in the beginning. Things were perfect in God’s original design before the snake entered in.
Being in unison produces harmony, and that produces God’s blessing upon the marriage. Marriages in harmony prosper under God’s hand because that’s His original design.
Notice God fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib. She was not made from his feet so as to be trampled upon; nor from his head so as to rule over, but from his side, to be near to his heart and loved by him. Even the material with which God fashioned Eve shows us how tender we are to treat her and keep her next to our heart. From the beginning, it was like God was saying, “I want you to be bonded at the heart.”
Now, with such a beautiful beginning, where did things go wrong? Enter the serpent. Can I get a “hiss” and a “boo”? Gen. 3:1-7 Notice Satan’s attack was strategically aimed at the weaker vessel (1 Pet. 3:7 says woman is the weaker vessel and so men are to treat them with gentleness.). Satan got her to usurp her husband’s instructions about the forbidden fruit. Satan twisted the Word of God (v.1). She caught the lie (v.2), but he insisted (v. 4) and she gave in (v.6). Lust for the forbidden fruit enticed her to stray from her husband’s instructions. But I want you to notice Adam was there “with her” (v.6). He heard the discourse of the lies but he did not protect her…and so they both ate!
Our next Scripture shows us where the root of many of our marriage problems stems: Gen. 3:16. “Desire” – teshuqah = to want to take the role of authority, to dominate, to usurp. “Rule” – mashal = to sit in an elevated position, to rule, to subdue, to beat down. Folks, this is where Satan’s poison brings death to once pure relationships!!
To get another look at the meaning of these two important words, they are used again in the next chapter. Let’s see their context. The setting is that Cain and Abel have just given sacrifices to God. God favored Abel’s, but not Cain’s. Gen. 4:7 Sin is crouching at Cain’s door, wanting to raise its ugly head, to usurp its evil desires of jealousy, anger, rage and murder. God said, “If you are going to master this, you are going to have to push it down and conquer it.”
As with snake venom, spiritual poison can also be cured with an antidote. The antidote to the curse in the Garden is found in Eph. 5:21-29, 33 Notice we start off equal in God’s eyes in verse 21. Then, ladies, when Satan wants to pump the poison in your veins to usurp your husband’s authority, God’s cure from the Word is to yield to his leadership as you would to your Savior. A yielding heart comes from seeing the value of the safety of being under your husband’s protection. Eve stepped out from under that, and Satan injected his poison.
Now guys, listen to me with all 3 ears! You can never require your wife’s submission. If you do, you’re opening HER mail, not yours…and opening someone else’s mail is a Federal offense! Submission can never be required…it has to be given on the basis of TRUST! That means ladies, you must believe God’s Word and be willing to trust your husband as he grows in spiritual leadership. He’s going fall from time to time, but trust God to teach him some valuable lessons from his failures and grow because of it.
Now guys, we have it tougher. The ladies only had 2 verses written to them, but we have 8 verses. This love we are called to love our wife with is no quickie – giver her a rose and box of chocolates - and you’re done kind of thing. Believe me, when you understand what God is saying to us in these verses, it’s tough…because it’s sacrificial! How do we love her? We demonstrate Christ’s love to her! Put your love for your wife up next to Christ’s for the church and see how you measure up! How have you sacrificed for her every week since you said your vows? How often are you washing her fragile soul with the Word of God? Have you listened to her concerns like Jesus listens to your prayers? Can you say you are as sensitive to her needs and hurts as Jesus is to His Bride? Do you care for her like you care for your own body? These are pretty tough questions. But if I’m reading my Bible right, the Word of God says we are to take responsible leadership of our home in the same spirit of self-giving and devotion as Christ has shown for His Bride, the Church!
Now, let’s apply what we’ve heard. In groups of 5 or 6, respond to this question:
How can husbands lead without reverting back to the failure of the Garden and “push her down”? (Share) How do you come to agreement when you both have opposing views? (Share)
(Share just with your spouse) - My spirit is wounded when you…
(With your spouse) - This is how you can make me feel cherished…