Husband and Wife
by Kenneth Westby
Did God curse women when Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? Is God
a male chauvinist? Is the wife s role inferior to the husband's?
What is the right relationship between husband and wife in
marriage? What is the Bible definition of a total marriage? These
and other questions ere answered in this concluding sequel to
last month's article.
Among certain tribal cultures in New Guinea today, a woman
is given equal status with a pig! The native men folk each have
many wives included among the property and possessions they rule
over. A man can barter his wife - or even kill her - in
displeasure over her actions, including such minor crimes as the
burning of his food!
Thankfully, most women in recorded history have enjoyed
somewhat better treatment. But their lot in marriage, society,
and life in general has left much to be desired. In general,
women have been exploited and taken advantage of by the stronger,
more dominant male. In many cultures, religions, and governments,
women have been given inferior status to men.
Some blame God for the pathetic plight of women. They
believe God placed a curse on womankind for Mother Eve's sinful
actions. Does this mysterious "curse" have anything to do with a
woman's status in society and marriage? Let's understand the
Are Women Cursed?
The Genesis record shows Eve had blatantly disobeyed her
Creators instructions. She had made the fateful decision to
follow her nature rather than God's revelation. She had rejected
God's authority in her life, choosing instead to follow her own
nose and judge for herself what was right and wrong, good and
bad. Adam made a similar decision. As a result they could no
longer fit harmoniously Into the perfect, law-abiding environment
God had made for them in Eden. So God put them out of his
peaceful garden, to live by their own devices. This was the way
they had chosen for themselves. This was the price they would pay
for rejecting their Maker's rule and His way of life.
Before they left Eden God described to Adam and Eve the
negative future each would face because of the path they had
chosen to go. "Unto the woman he said, t will greatly multiply
thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shaft bring forth
children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall
rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast
hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree,
of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:
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
form 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 west thou taken: for dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen.3:16, 19).
God's words were more of a prophecy than a curse. The path
of sin, walking apart from God's revelation and truth, brings its
own ruin, degradation, slavery, corruption, and suffering. God's
prophetic words revealed what mankind's future would be as a
consequence of rejecting God's way. But the choice, the decision
that fixed the future, was made by the first woman and her
husband - not by God.
Concerning the woman's lot in life, God knew women would
have a burden-filled life revolving around family and children -
bearing, feeding, providing, end caring for their needs. And
especially apart from God end His direction, much sorrow would
accompany this career. And it has come to pass exactly as God had
said. Throughout history women have not only anguished in
childbirth but have also experienced the deeper sorrow that comes
from seeing their children reap the curses of a Godless society,
seeing them die of diseases, seeing them starve, seeing them
offered up in sacrifices to false gods, seeing them die in the
perpetual fightings and were that have continued from the death
of Eve's son, Abel, to the dead sons of twentieth-century
The tears of sorrow shed by the mothers of history for their
children can never be measured. Surely, women's sorrow has been
greatly multiplied as God had said. And all because humankind
chose to We contrary to God's authority.
God had also prophesied (in verse 16) that the man, apart
from God and His loving ways, would misuse his physical strength
and his leadership role to subjugate and exploit his partner. He
would give her inferior status. Her individuality and personhood
would be ignored. She would be ruled over in a strong and often
selfish way. This, too, has come to pass. Man, devoid of God's
spirit and rejecting His instructions, failed to treat his wife
as God intended, as an equal help-mate and partner. With few
exceptions, this has been the sad history of womankind.
Likewise for the man, life would be far from what God had
intended in Eden. Toiling in the earth, sun up to sun down,
eeking out the barest of necessities. What a travesty! How
different life could have been!
But this travesty is the result of sin, ignorance, and
selfishness. It is not the kind of life God originally intended
for man and women. Had humans obeyed God's spiritual laws,
honored the sex differences He created, and followed God's
purposeful plan for marriage, the historical record would be far
But the Almighty didn't discriminate against the woman by
giving her an inferior status, as some suggest and as history
seems to record. God is not a made chauvinist. "For there is no
respect of persons with God" (Acts 10:34)... There is no male nor
female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal.3:28). Husband
and wife are "heirs together of the grace of life" (1 Peter 3:7).
God created human beings in His own likeness. He is the author of
human rights. "You shall love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt.
22:39). "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the
Mankind shouldn't blame God for the path they have chosen -
a path contrary to God's revelation.
People have cursed themselves by following the way of sinful
living that has affected everything from earth's ecology to
marriage Itself. And a way that has prevented most women from
enjoying the happiness and high status our Maker Intended.
Even in present-day America the female role is often
undervalued. It is robbed of the powerful and exalted position it
deserves in society. Today's frequent disparagement of the role
of wife, mother, and homemaker - and the exaltation of careers in
a unisex culture - is one of the most reprehensible aspects of
the so-called women's movement.
The wife/mother role in the family is equal in status to the
man's. It is equally demanding - physically, mentally, and
spiritually. Although new technology aids to some degree the
performing of routine physical housework, it is still hard work.
In addition, a mother has the mentally and spiritually
challenging tasks of child-rearing, with responsibilities for
everything from "medical diagnosis" and "psychological analysis"
to overseeing the children's education and their personal
development of individual abilities. The mother is expected to
maintain an aesthetically pleasing home environment for child and
husband, to prepare most meals, to maintain social connections,
and to continue her own private education and development.
In our modern societies, the essential female role has
become even more sophisticated, refined, and demanding. While a
woman isn't restricted by God to the home, or forbidden outside
jobs or careers, her marriage role established by God's
purposeful design from Creation, is to be wife and mother. That
role is vital to the building of a happy home and a strong,
healthy society. The home is where we finally and privately live,
where we express our individuality, where we display our
aesthetic choices, where we make and enjoy love, and where we
cultivate our children as individuals and prepare them as future
The central position of the woman's role in the home
parallels her position in civilized society. Her role is nothing
less then the central activity of the human community. All other
work - the business, political, entertainment, and service
functions performed in society - finds its ultimate test in the
quality of the home. The woman assumes responsibility for what
could be described as the domestic values of the community: its
moral, aesthetic, religious, nutrient, social, and sexual
concerns. These values embody the ultimate goals of human life.
These values transcend the market place. The proverb describes
the worth of a virtuous woman - "her price is far above rubies"
But, unfortunately, women liberationists still proclaim the
job market as the primary place to prove worth and to gain
equality. This narrow-minded, intimidating, and tactless social
experiment is the child of a money-oriented society that defines
worth and success in dollar amounts. The fact that a husband may
earn more money than his wife does not make him or his time more
valuable than hers. Is it the pay-check that proves superior
worth and contribution - to the family, community, and society?
Does it entitle the wage-earner to a higher status in life? By
what standard should worth be measured? By money earned, by love
given, by number of hours devoted to the family, by sacrifices
made, by meals cooked, by children born? Such comparisons are
counterproductive and futile - yet they are the basis for much of
the competition and bickering in marriage. A lot goes into making
a home happy, peaceful. pleasant, and productive. Earning money
is only one of the many essential contributions.
Mutual respect and full acceptance are required of each
mate. Each must fully appreciate his partner's contributions to
the family; each must value greatly the other's role. Though a
housewife may not feel it necessary to put a price tag on her
daily work, she wants to be paid nevertheless. Paid by her
husband's acceptance of her as an equal, as a partner who's time
and labor are of equal worth to his. This enlightened approach
requires a degree of maturity not commonly found in marriages.
Cooperation, Not Competition
There should be no need for husband and wife to compete for
each other's role in marriage if the roles are considered equal
in value and prestige. Though God has plainly made a difference
in the primary male and female roles in marriage, nowhere in
scripture does He indicate those basic responsibilities are
anything but equal in worth. Each mate is equal before God, each
is entitled to call Him Father. Both we equal as heirs to
salvation and eternal life. Equal in personhood, status, and the
right of free choice.
While many family responsibilities are shared, individual
responsibilities should be handled by the mate most able to do
them well. Couples should work out their own specific home
government to best suit their needs, interests and abilities -
within the over-all framework given by God at Creation. That
foundations framework is designed to provide for individual
freedom, flexibility to suit specific needs and individual
talents, open communication, mutual respect, mutual submission
-all necessary for a happy and fulfilling marriage. Cooperation
is the key, hot competition.
The primary roles revealed in the creation marriage (see
Part 1) are just a few of the many necessary roles and
responsibilities in marriage. Beyond these overall guidelines
God's word avoids specific descriptions that limit certain
activities as exclusively "man's work" or "woman's work." Nowhere
does scripture say, for instance, that men shouldn't change a
diaper or wash a dish, women shouldn't mow lawns or lay bricks,
or other such restrictions. God avoided such specifics, which
would tend to stifle end restrict Individual marriages of
different personalities in different times and cultures. God
emphasized, instead, the most important and the most basic keys
for the organization and leadership in marriage. These
foundational keys are increasingly being ignored or rejected by a
society heading toward marital suicide.
Bible - Marriage Manual?
Reel and life-long gratification in marriage doesn't come by
accident. It comes through love, commitment, and the wise
application of sound knowledge. The Word of God is replete with
lessons and instructions on marriage - sound principles and
guides that can help establish or repair any marriage having at
least one willing partner.
The Bible can and should be used as a marriage manual. But
care must be exercised to understand it properly. Erroneous
assumptions and damaging conclusions can be drawn by viewing
certain marriage texts too literally, without regard for the
context and cultural background, or languages, broader scriptural
principles, serious Biblical research and the like. Ignorance of
these facts has led some, for example, to mistakenly conclude
that the Bible establishes man as superior to woman. Some have
failed to understand our Maker's instructions in their cultural
contexts. They have lacked the spiritual wisdom to discern God's
divine principles and apply them properly to their own
circumstance or situation. Christians have always been counselled
by scripture to cope with society. To live in peace, but not in
sin. To apply God's unchanging spiritual principles to our
ever-changing cultural environments.
Marital relationships in the twentieth century should not be
required to maintain the same sort of cultural postures that
prevailed in various Biblical times. Many of these past cultures
were largely illiterate, darkened, and sinful. We must not make
the mistake of absolutizing "the Bible times" and assuming that
"everything in the Bible" carries over to our modem culture. For
instance, such things as slavery, polygamy, and absolute monarchy
were present in certain past cultures when Biblical characters
lived. Some of the social evils they lived with took centuries to
change - others, unchanged, continue to plague mankind to this
day. Some fundamentalists today, while condemning slavery and
polygamy, would in the same breath insist our modem marriages be
fixed on the patriarchal model of the early Old Testament, or on
the hierarchical model of total male dominance and low female
status of some first-century cultures. This authority oriented
approach to marriage can destroy the equality and personal
development God intended for both mates. It can inhibit husbands
and wives from learning to make decisions together. It can
dehumanize the woman and inspire contempt for the man.
God's original design for the ideal marriage has never
changed. But through the centuries, cultural degeneracy, sin,
selfishness, adultery, divorce, and polygamy have taken their
toll in robbing men and women of the joy that could be theirs in
marriage. Robbing them of the supremely fulfilling relationship
two equals bound together in love were meant to enjoy.
It's time men and women began to seek their Creator and His
Word (instead of the divorce courts) for the solutions to their
marriage problems. Jesus said, "Have ye not read, that he which
made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said,
For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall
cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore
they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath
pined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt.19:4-6).
The Total Marriage
Nowhere in scripture is the ideal marriage relationship more
beautifully pictured than in Paul's letter to the Ephesians,
Chapter 5, verses 21 to 33. It's profound. Please read it. See
the total commitment to love each other, to honor each other, to
submit to each other, to build up and nourish each other, to
respect each other. See how the husband-wife love-relationship
uniquely describes Christ's relationship of total and faithful
devotion to us, the church.
The physical, emotional, and spiritual bond that can be
built between two separate individuals of the opposite sex is
awe-inspiring. But, because of sin and ignorance, most marriages
have never realized this deep happiness, peace, and security God
intended for husbands and wives.
Let's earnestly strive for the truly enlightened, mature
marriages our Maker intended from Creation. Beautiful marriages.
Happy homes. Right relationships based on mutual love, respect,
submission, esteem, and honor. Loving husbands following Christ's
example and leadership. Respectful wives living by the sound
counsel of God's Word. Equal partners, "heirs together of the
grace of life," sharing, serving, growing together. Two becoming
one, fulfilling the purposes God designed for marriage, and
developing the love that makes each partner more like God. This
is what God had in mind when He designed the sexes and created
marriage. Let's live up to it!
Entered on this Website November 2007