Biblical Gender Roles in Marriage: Part Two

The Fall of mankind happened early on in the Bible. 3 chapters in, and we had already screwed up the perfection of God’s creation. We left off in Part One of this post with the perfection of God’s creation, and the flawless nature of the marriage relationship as it was initially intended. Then sin entered the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:1-7, we are shown the initial reasons for why men and women struggle against one another today in society, in marriage, and in life in general. The serpent (Satan) entered in to the garden and spoke to Eve. I think that would’ve been my first clue that something bad was about to happen; talking serpent? RUN! She didn’t run though. Instead she listened to what the serpent had to say, and what he introduced was doubt. “Did God really say, ‘you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” Hmm… Did he? Let’s go back and see, shall we?

Genesis 2:16-17- “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, [17] but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

God gave them ONE tree that they were not to eat from and that tree represented their free will; they had the choice to leave it alone in obedience to God, or they could eat from it and gain the knowledge of good and evil, but they would certainly die as punishment for their disobedience.

The problem that arose in the garden was 3 fold.

1.) The command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was given to Adam before the creation of Eve. What this did was place the responsibility of spiritual leadership on Adam’s shoulders. HE was responsible for making sure his wife knew God’s commands.

2.) The serpent went after Eve and introduced doubt into her mind regarding God’s goodness. Not only this, but Eve misquotes God as saying, “…We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.” (Genesis 3:2-3, emphasis added) Whoa! That’s not what God said! We have an issue here in that we don’t know if Adam told this to Eve or if Eve set rules around God’s initial instruction in an attempt to keep herself from disobedience. What we do know is that at this point, the serpent had her from the moment she misquoted God. He could now make it seem as though God was holding out on Adam and Eve.

3.) We see Eve succumb to the temptation of pride. Genesis 3:4-6 tells us that the serpent convinced her it was desirable for obtaining wisdom and that they wouldn’t die upon eating it. So she took it and ate it, and then gave it to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and he ate it. What happens here is a shift in the given gender roles. We have Eve targeted by the serpent, tempted by pride and the desire for wisdom, who then takes the role of spiritual leader from her husband. SHE took, SHE ate, SHE gave it to her husband. She became the provider, she led, and her husband sat back on the sidelines and did as he was instructed, even though it was contrary to what he had been told directly by God. Adam had given up his role as spiritual leader, and Eve had usurped authority that did not rightfully belong to her.

Therein lies the problem with submission in today’s culture. There have been many instances in which men have not led their spouses as they should; there has been adultery, physical and emotional abuse, oppression, laziness, and deceit. Women fail to respect their husbands when they are not leading as they should. Men fail to lead their wives when their wives undermine their authority as spiritual leader and head of household.

My husband and I at a Marine Corps ball; I love that this captures our roles so perfectly- Him looking his most masculine, me looking my most feminine

And this photo I feel captures our "sameness"

Our culture is broken by this sin today. Look at all the sitcoms in which we indulge; the man is a bumbling idiot, often fat, lazy, and stupid, while the woman is attractive, smart, strong and intelligent. The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, According to Jim, King of Queens, Rules of Engagement, Family Guy, American Dad, etc…. The list goes on and on. Man is stupid and selfish, and woman has to constantly clean up his messes. Women, how can we expect to be treated with chivalry when this is the attitude we convey toward men? Men, how can we expect women to submit to your leadership and authority if this is the model of behavior followed? We can’t. I watched this play out in my parents’ marriage and eventual divorce. My mother failed to respect my father, my father failed to honor my mother and both failed to walk with the Lord throughout the turbulence.

God designed the gender roles to compliment one another. But at the fall of man, we see that competition and contention enter the relationship. We’re no longer satisfied with God’s design because we chose disobedience. And now from here on, the Bible contains the story of how God worked to fix this huge mess we created, and it tells our story of consistent rebellion. It tells of God’s infinite mercy and grace in spite of that rebellion, and it tells of the redemption that is available in Christ Jesus.
But before all that can happen, there come the consequences of that sin…

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