Garden Principles IIb – Eve, Women, and Wives

In the moment of temptation, Eve acted as the leader in her relationship with Adam and led him to eat the fruit. In this moment, she was the chief counselor in their relationship and advised Adam on what to do. Thus, we see that God commanded the opposite for women: In Ephesians 5:22, wives are to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” In v. 24, we see that they are to “submit to their husbands in everything,” and in v. 33, “must respect her husband,” who will “rule over her” (Gen. 3:16).

Now this is very unsettling for secular and Christian women, who interpret these verses to be anti-feminist by intimating that women are to act as doormats and do whatever their husbands command. They apply such sterile interpretations of these verses, as though the relationship between a husband and wife is like a master to his slave. But this is incorrect thinking and thwarts the growth that is intended for both spouses in a Godly marriage.  Women are not to be subjected to the dictatorship of men. No, rather, I believe “submission” is synonymous with “trust.”

Let’s again look at Ephesians 5. After it states that wives are to submit to their husbands (v. 22), it immediately relates the husband to Christ and His relationship with the Church. I think this is done to discourage us ladies from interpreting our submission as subjugation. As the Church, we are not forcefully dominated by Christ. Rather, we must submit to His rule. And how do we do this? By trusting His ability to guide us. Thus, in the same way, we as wives are to trust our husbands’ ability to guide us and advise us in the way of the Lord.

Here’s another way I thought about this. Since husbands are related to Christ’s relationship with the Church, I thought it would make sense to look to Christ and His Bride (the Church) and consider what He most desires from her (the Church). The answer is her Love. Mark 22:37-38 states:

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Thus, Christ most desires our love for Him, and how is love fostered and achieved? Through intimacy. And what is required and developed through intimacy? Trust.

Thus, if Christ and the Church represent the model to be followed in marriage, then all of these elements (love, intimacy, trust) should exist between a husband and wife.

Let’s look again at Ephesians 5. I think it is extremely significant that in God’s description of a husband and wife’s relationship, He describes intimacy. It’s as though He built the same case as made above (love <-> intimacy <-> trust) so that we women would understand that trust is what is expected of us in our marriages. In Ephesians 5:28-31, it states:

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – [30] for we are members of His body. [31] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ [32] This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. [33] However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

These verses point to the unity and intimacy that should exist between a husband and wife, that he should “love [her] as [his] own body” and both should “become one flesh.” And as aforementioned, in intimacy, trust is essential to a relationship and further fostered as the relationship deepens. I think this is intimated by the fact that these verses on intimacy end with the commandment that “the wife must respect her husband.” I don’t know about you, but personally, it is much easier for me to trust and take the advice of someone that I respect.

This was a looong description, but I think it’s much more difficult for people to understand the concept of wives’ submission to her husband, so I wrote more for this section. Moral of the story:  Eve led and counseled Adam when they were tempted. Therefore, women are now challenged to trust the counsel of their husbands.

Now, this is obviously not an easy commandment to follow. Of the three elements (love, intimacy, trust) that must be cultivated in a marriage, trust will certainly be the most difficult for women. As the curse indicates:  Gen. 3:16 – women will have desire for their husbands – i.e. will strive to control them. But sisters, I would challenge you to be aware of your desire and strive to grow in the Lord by trusting the guidance of your Godly husbands.

But in a future post, I plan to elaborate on the ways in which women communicate love, how Eve’s curse provides an explanation for the ways in which women expect their husbands to love them, and how women’s understanding of male communication/love can help them convert their idealistic expectations into realistic ones.

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