I trust today’s post in the hands of my very talented and wise friend Kristi. Kristi has been married to her best friend for seven years. She is on a quest to love Christ more as she makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, kisses boo-boos, irons mountains of shirts, and cleans cheerios out of the vents. She loves to study and teach God’s Word and writes daily at Run the Earth, Watch the Sky. You can also find her on twitter.
If this is why I was created, why then is it so hard to fulfill? Why is it so hard to love my husband?
Sometimes I wonder what Adam and Eve’s relationship was like for that brief span of time before they rebelled against God. They were literally made for each other. Both of them awoke into consciousness in the presence of their Creator. They lived in a glorious world, in a beautiful garden designed for them by God. They had no sin, no selfishness, no baggage from their past. Perfect trust, perfect intimacy, perfect unity.
One choice to rebel against God shattered it all.
Shame. “…they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:7
Broken intimacy. “…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God…” Genesis 3:8
Blame. “The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’” Genesis 3:12
Sin came crashing into the deepest recesses of their hearts. Sin came crashing into paradise.
Genesis 3:14-19 contains what is known as the curse – God’s judgments on the creation He loved in response to their rebellion. The curse brought physical death which mirrored the spiritual death Adam and Eve had already experienced. It brought thorns and thistles – frustration and futility in man’s God-given work. The woman would suffer increased pain in childbearing. Most pertinent to our discussion, though, is the second half of Genesis 3:16.
“Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
That word “desire” is very interesting. The word in the Hebrew means “stretching out after, a yearning, a longing, a desire.” It is used only three times in the Old Testament- once in Song of Solomon, once here in Genesis 3:16, and once in Genesis 4:7. When we flip over to Genesis 4:7, we find this word used in the account of Cain killing his brother Abel. God tells him that “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” “Desire” here carries the idea of control - sin wants to control you, but you have to master it.
With that deeper understanding of “desire,” this verse becomes vivid to me. Because of the curse, I do not want to be my husband’s loving helper. I want to be my husband’s ruler. Women are constantly struggling to control their husbands, and history has played out the fact that men have responded many times by becoming oppressively dominant or weak and passive.
Because of that painful history behind us, many of us struggle with the thought of being a loving helper. We struggle with it because we live in a broken world and we battle with our human nature that is bent toward sin. Because of the curse, we constantly find ourselves struggling to dominate. In addition, so many of us have been wounded by perversions of male headship – men who have fought back in the battle for domination and have done so by suppressing, abusing, or neglecting women.
Men are broken and sinful, too.
There is good news, though! God did not abandon us in our sin and brokenness.
One of the most commonly referred to passages regarding the topic of Biblical marriage is Ephesians 5:22-33. If you are familiar with this passage, you know that wives are told to submit to their husbands, and husbands are told to love their wives.
But that’s not all.
I love Ephesians 5:25-27.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
Christ gave Himself up for us.
In order to sanctify us.
He cleanses us with the Word.
He is preparing us to be His holy and blameless bride.
Are you struggling to love your husband? Are you dealing with sin, shame, broken intimacy, and blame? Do you battle with your own desire to control your husband and resistance to the idea of being his helper?
Being sanctified and cleansed is a process. It is a process that necessitates that we sit in the presence of Jesus, that we let Him cleanse us with the pure water of His Word. Be real with Him. You aren’t able to do this alone.
Lord, cause me to love my husband.
Teach me what it looks like to submit to him out of reverence for You.
I struggle with fear, teach me to trust You.
I feel ashamed – cover me with your righteousness and cleanse me from my sin.
I am in the habit of blaming him – show me where I need to take responsibility, and teach me to forgive him.
I am broken and sinful – and so is my husband.
I have found that when I wrestle with my own deep fears, sin, and desire to control, that God grants me eyes of compassion for my husband. For when I am honest about my own failures, I am more likely to pray for him than to blame him. When I entrust my fears to God, I can be freed to love and help my husband rather than control him.
We still live in a broken world. We still wrestle with our sinful nature. But Jesus will wash away the guilt and shame, and we no longer need to cast blame. He can free us to love.