“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”—Genesis 3:16, KJV
A Traditional Understanding: Women desire to have authority over men, and so was judged by God.
A Non-Traditional Thesis: Women desire a husband’s affection, not his authority.
The judgment on Eve was that she would know pain in childbirth, she would desire [Heb. teshuwqah (tesh-oo-kaw’), stretch out after, long] for her husband to rule over her, and she would be subject to his authority.
“Then God said to the woman, “You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.” TLB
“To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” NASU
“To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” NIV
If Genesis 3:16 is understood correctly, it seems to me to teach that women long for a husband’s affection, not for their husband’s authority.
Keep in mind what happened in the Garden of Eden.
Eve had been deceived by the serpent, and had given Adam the same fruit to eat which she had eaten. The immediate result was death, which is a separation of one entity from another. Not only was fellowship from God cut off, and they hid from the Lord, but sin severed their own relationship to each other.
When two people are caught in a transgression, it is the natural response of the depraved heart for them to turn on one another in self-interest. That is exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden. Adam turned on Eve. Eve turned on the serpent. Then came God’s judgment.
Now the judgment on Eve, if it indicates anything, it indicates that she repented. Eve was sorry how she had persuaded Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit, for the word “hearkened” means “to hear intelligently.”
Any husband who has been foolish enough to engage in a verbal “discussion” with his wife over something controversial knows how articulate and persuasive a woman can be when their passion is aroused. Adam was no exception.
The initial loving relationship between Adam and Eve was over the moment their eyes of understanding were opened to the extensive horror of what they had done to themselves, to God, to their posterity, and to the universe itself. Both were judged, and so was creation.
But God knew the heart of Eve. He understood her sorrow. He perceived how she wanted to be restored to Adam. Therefore, God said to Eve, you will long for your husband, you will desire your husband, his affection, his attention, his authority.” And so, it has been.
Herein is one reason why many married women stay with an abusive man. A woman longs for, and desires a husband, even one who does not respect her, or treat her well. Multitudes have wondered why women stay with wayward men, and men who hurt them? The divine perspective is this. God said they would desire their husband’s affection, and so they do.
If a man would be restored to fellowship after a severed relationship, the divine narrative can help. The following counsel is given.
First, confess your sin, not in the context of being like so many other men, but in the context of Adam, all alone with your wife, and your God, and no one else.
Second, understand how God has designed your wife. She is not in competition for authority but for affection. A woman craves love, affection, understanding, and attention. Return to your first love. Set aside a date night, no matter what the time and effort may cost.
Third, do not accuse falsely. An ad hominem attack is cheap and easy, and only obscures the real problem.
Fourth, remember the love and grace of God, and receive His forgiveness.
Fifth, continue to work to be forgiven by your spouse for your faith without good works is still dead, inoperative, and useless in the context of that disrupted relationship.
If a woman would be restored to fellowship after a severed relationship, the divine narrative can help. The following counsel is given.
First, confess your own part in transgression. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). In a given situation, one person may be more righteous than another, but “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Second, seize the opportunity to be like Jesus who suffered personally, unjustly, and viciously. Nevertheless, Jesus prayed, while at Calvary, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
A person sinned against can say, “I forgive you”, knowing that “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).
Third, remember that biblical forgiveness does not mean spiritual amnesia. It does mean that past transgressions will not be held against a person. God cannot be less than God. God cannot forget the past, but He has promised this. “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12). God will give a person grace to forget the past, even one filled with hatred and hostility. There is an agape love, the love of God which can take its place in the heart of the person who says with sincerity, “I forgive.”
Fourth, consider the future. A life time of hating, and resenting, and remembering painful moments is a life of wasted years.
“Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
As you walk on in darkness and fear
Turn around, turn around, love is calling
Keeps calling me from a life of wasted years.
Have you wandered a lot on life’s pathway
Have you lived without love, a life of tears
Have you searched for a great higher meaning
Or is your life filled with long wasted years?
Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
As you walk on in darkness and fear
Turn around, turn around, love is calling
Keeps calling you from a life of wasted years.”
Fifth, study the Lord’s Prayer afresh, and notice the part Jesus returned to was the matter of forgiveness. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14, 15).
It can take a long time to forgive someone, but it does not have to. Forgiveness is an act of the will that can happen in the blink of an eye. It is a matter of the heart.
Holiness can take a long time, but it does not have to. Mortification of the flesh can happen in a moment of time. It is a matter of the heart. Every man, every woman, every child is as holy as they want to be. The practical problem is the Augustinian prayer: “Lord, make me chaste (sexually pure)—but not yet!” Because the Lord knows our true heart, the struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil continues.
We say again. Today is the day of divine liberation for any Christian who would put to death their besetting sin. Believe, and be free!
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Col. 3:5).
Death to self, and sin, can happen in an instant. New life, eternal life, holy life can be infused in an instant by the breath of God. “Lord, visit your people.” Amen.
“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”
William D. Longstaff