The Joy of Marriage

Title: The Joy of Marriage

Bible Book: Genesis 1 : 27

Author: Calvin Wittman

Subject: Marriage; Adam and Eve



Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last several decades, you are keenly aware that one of the most controversial issues facing our culture today is the issue of gender. Radical Feminists are ever busy, as they try to change not only the historic definitions of what a man and a woman are, but also the very way people think of gender. Homosexual activists have made great strides in their efforts to blur the lines between male and female. If you don’t believe me, consider that the majority of prime time television programs now have at least one homosexual character or have a storyline in their program which seeks to normalize this practice. One has but to look across our cultural landscape to see the bold and drastic changes taking place in this area.

If you are a fan of the television show, “American Idol,” and have been watching the program with any degree of regularity, you have noted that one of the leading contestants is a young man who has caused no small degree of controversy because of some pictures of him which have been posted on the internet. Seems this young man has a penchant for dressing up like a woman, a fact which has been celebrated by some in Hollywood. This is just one of many examples of how this shift in the way our culture is thinking can be seen. Or consider Miss California who, within the last few days was vilified after the Miss USA pageant because she dared to say that she did not support homosexual marriage. That’s tolerance for you.

And the conflict between those who seek to redefine gender and those who insist on holding to a traditional view of what a man and a woman are is not confined to the secular arena. Within Ecclesiastical circles this debate is raging like never before. Mainline denominations have not only sought to erase any biblical distinction between male and female with respect to roles within the home or the church, but have also embraced the homosexual agenda, and now advocate homosexual marriage and have ordained many practicing homosexuals to the ministry.

Of course, whenever we deviate from God’s word the consequences are disastrous. This attempt to redefine the definition of male and female, and all of the efforts aimed at blurring the lines of distinction between the two genders is nothing more than a rebellion against God’s truth, and if left unchecked will destroy marriage as we know it today. All of this brings us to our current series which is on marriage and the family.

Open your bibles to Genesis again, this time to Chapter 1:27 where we find a simple and yet deeply profound passage of scripture. The Bible says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This is a passage which Jesus Himself repeats in Matthew 19:4. It is authoritative and applicable both in the Old and in the New Testament.

From the very beginning of time and deep within the design of the Creator Himself, there is and always has been a clear distinction between male and female, between what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. And what’s more, God created men and women to be in harmony with each other in marriage, to experience matrimonial joy.

Last week we touched on the spiritual equality between men and women, noting that spiritually speaking, from an eternal point of view, there is perfect equality between men and women. God created each of them in His own image. And since that’s where the scripture begins this discussion about man and woman, that’s where I want us to begin our study this morning.

I. Spiritual Equality

It is no light thing to be created in the image of God, while this initially speaks to the sanctity of human life, that is, we are not highly evolved animals but rather unique among all of God’s creation, it also speaks to the spiritual equality which exists between men and women.

When God created man and woman He imprinted both of them with the same divine image. But since God is a Spirit, this image cannot be physical but rather spiritual. Thus, when the scripture says that God created man and woman in His image, it is speaking to the spiritual essence and thus the spiritual equality between men and women.

Many people go astray here by not noticing this crucial point. Spiritual equality means that both man and woman have an eternal soul, both man and woman were created with the ability to choose between right and wrong and both of them chose wrong. Both man and woman were created as a person, which is one of the basic characteristics of God, and as persons were made to be in relationship with other persons. As persons with eternal souls, both man and woman were made to be individually accountable, before God, for their actions.

Spiritual equality is nothing to be taken lightly. This truth is something which should govern the way men look at women and the way women look at men. Both men and women are people for whom Jesus died. Both men and women are people in whom the Holy Spirit of God lives and heaven and hell will be populated with both men and women.

God through the scripture and while you will find men discriminating against women, you will never find God doing this. God always regards the prayers of men and women equally. God always treats them the same. He is not a respecter of persons. When it comes to salvation, spiritual inheritance and God’s love, men and women are absolutely equal before God. Men who treat women as some kind of lesser being or as second class citizens are not and cannot be right with God and need to repent. God has declared women to be spiritually equal, not spiritually inferior. If you are going to be right with God you have respond to His creation as He directs, not as a fallen culture decides.

Just study the life of Jesus and you’ll see that our Lord Himself, God incarnate, defied the customs of the fallen sinful culture into which He came and treated women with the utmost of respect.

Consider this - It was a woman to whom the angel first appeared and announced that the Messiah would be born.

It was a woman who was overcome by the Holy Spirit and who carried the baby Jesus to term and gave birth to our Lord.

It was a woman who became one of the first evangelists, who, after meeting with Jesus at the well in Samaria, went back to her village and told of this man who told her all that she ever did.

It was a woman caught in adultery who Jesus rescued from those who would stone her.

It was women who sponsored the ministry of Jesus and gave Him food and shelter.

It was a woman who washed His feet with her tears and hair.

It was women who stood faithfully at the cross when His disciples had abandoned Him.

It was women who were the first to see the resurrected Christ and who went to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Jesus always treated women with respect. He always acted in accordance with His creative design of spiritual equality between men and women.

Now there are two extremes to which people go here. On one hand some men have a tendency to look down upon women as being second class citizens, and, as we have seen, this is clearly a sin. On the other hand some go too far the other way and have sought say that woman does not need man. Some feminists actually want to do away with the institution of marriage because they see it as a tool to keep women in bondage to men. This too is wrong.

You see, while men and women have spiritual equality, there is a difference between spiritual equality and functional Diversity. And that’s the second thing I want you to see this morning…the fact that while men and women are spiritual equal they are functionally diverse.

II. Functional Diversity

From the very beginning while Adam and Eve both shared the charge to take dominion over the earth and to subdue it, within that general charge, each of them had different roles.

God had created Adam first and given him the job of ruling earth. Woman was formed out of man to be a helper, one who would complete him and assist him in accomplishing the God given mandate of being fruitful and multiplying and having dominion over the earth.

And while not all women are physically able to have children, that does not change the fact that childbearing was part of His original design. That’s why it is so emotionally painful for women who are not physically able to have children. Like any other physical ailment we suffer, this too is a result of the curse which fell upon all of humanity. Whether capable nor not, God’s design was for women to be mothers and nurturers. That’s why deep within the heart of a woman is this sense of God’s creative purpose. The fact that some fulfill this longing through adoption is simply testimony that this is part of what God created women to be. It is a God given, inherent characteristic of being a woman.

As a helper Eve possessed everything necessary to complete man, to make Him whole. She was not there to compete with him but to complement him. Remember, Eve was created to fill a void in Adam. God declared that it was not good for man to be alone and so out of Adam, God created Eve. But from the beginning God made Adam to lead and Eve to make that leadership possible. I am not suggesting that women cannot be leaders; in fact some women I know are better leaders than some men I know. That’s not the issue; the issue is what God’s intention was in creation. I am saying that from a scriptural point of view, within the family and within the church God ordained men to lead. This remains true in spite of the fact that many families and churches for that matter are led by women because men have simply abdicated their God given responsibility. There are many cases where women lead because men won’t, but that does not change God’s creative purpose for men or women. Furthermore you need to consider that Adam was given the right to name woman. This speaks to the position of authority God gave Adam, not only over Eve but over all of creation. Even as God loved that over which He ruled, man was to love that which God had given him charge of. Man was to love His wife, and to do so sacrificially. Eve was to follow Adam’s lead and together they were to fulfill their God given responsibility as His agents on earth.

And in the Garden of Eden everything was fine. The Man accepted his role and the Woman accepted hers. And everything was wonderful.

Adam found his greatest joy in caring for Eve. In protecting her and providing for her. He found his greatest fulfillment in seeing her grow into everything God had created her to be. He was not in competition with her. He was God’s representative with her. Through his words and actions, he was to demonstrate to her the perfect love of God. She was his greatest treasure. She was his most prized possession, of inestimable worth. He was proud of her beyond description. His declaration that she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh is so powerful that mere words are vastly inadequate a medium to convey the depth of emotion Adam expressed in that moment. In the innocence of Eden, when man was at peace with God, he was in perfect harmony with woman and it was a beautiful thing. Folks, the first marriage started off perfectly.

And there was Woman. She was a beautiful creation of God, perfectly formed by the hand of God to complement Adam in every conceivable way. God created her with wonderful and incomparable gifts. Within her body new life could be formed. She could carry that new life within her till it came forth as a baby. And from her own body she could nurse this new life. What an incredible gift. She was wired differently than Adam, she responded to things differently than did he. She was not charged with the responsibility of leadership, but was given a place of honor and prestige. She was Adam’s queen. In the Garden, when Man and woman were right with God, Eve was content to be who God made her to be. To be a wife, to be a mother, to be a helper, perfectly suited to help Adam fulfill his divine commission as ruler of the earth. They were both content to be who and what God had made them to be.

But then sin entered the picture and things got messy. Genesis 3 recounts for us, with divine accuracy and insight how things went wrong, not only between man and God, but between man and woman and between man and all of creation.

After the fall, instead of cherishing woman as a gift from God, man begins to see her as something to be used to fulfill his personal desires. The polygamy of the Old Testament and the King’s harems paint a picture for us of paradise lost. Women were treated as sexual objects, sold as property instead of being seen as spiritual equals. And instead of recognizing man as the one who God placed over her to protect, lead and love her, after the fall, woman begins to see man as someone to rebel against, or someone with whom she is in competition. It becomes a vicious cycle of mistreatment and reprisal.

In Genesis 3,as a result of the fall, the serpent, the man and the woman all feel the wrath of God. The curse which falls upon the woman is spelled out for us in verse 16.

In essence God tells her that childbirth will now be a painful thing. Instead of taking pleasure in the harmonious relationship she has, up to this point, enjoyed with Adam, where each of them understand, accept and fulfill their God given roles, now she will desire to rule over him and yet he will rule over her. What a frustrating thing, to desire to rule over someone who you were not made to rule but who you were made to complete.

You see, the fall ruined it all. The perfect relationship which existed between man and woman was ruined by Adam and Eve when they rebelled against God. From that point forward there would be a struggle between the genders, a struggle for supremacy, for leadership and a struggle to rule over the other.

This is one of the most basic lessons which any married couple needs to understand. In our flesh, in our natural fallen state, there is a struggle between man and woman which seeks, by sheer force of our will, to control the other, to rule over the other, and to dominate the will of the other. And while that was not the way God created things to be, sin carries with it consequences and one of them is this conflict between the genders.

Everything here speaks to dominion and rule and to sin and rebellion. God ruled over all of creation and delegated that rule to Adam with respect to earth. When Adam rebelled against God who was over him, everything over which Adam had been given charge rebelled against him. This not only included woman but all of nature. The very ground itself would no longer bring forth its fruit without rebellion. Now Adam would have to work by the sweat of his brow to grow the food which the earth once freely offered to him.

This is where the beauty of functional diversity became corrupted in the hearts and minds of men and women. When they were walking in accordance with God’s plan, each of them understood who they were, why they were made and what they were made to do and because everything God made was good, they found their greatest fulfillment in the execution of these roles.

But pride, being the first and seminal sin, caused man to become unhappy with God’s best and led him to believe he should have more, in fact, it led him to believe that he should more, pride took root in the heart of man and caused him to think that he should be like God. This was the very sin Lucifer committed and the sin which caused him to be kicked out of heaven. And it was the sin with which he would tempt the first two humans. And this sin led to death. It led to a death of the perfect and happy estate in which they lived and it led to a spiritual death, a separation from God and from each other.

So now, instead of functioning in harmony with each other, there is a tension between the genders, one wanting to dominate the other, both wanting to prove that they are able to be independent of the other.

But this was never God’s plan and it is still not His plan for man and woman. Which brings me to our final consideration this morning, Practical or relational harmony.

III. Relational Harmony

When Jesus died on the cross, when He paid the price for our sins with His blood and rose from the grave defeating sin and death, He made it possible for man and woman to once again be in harmony with each other. He made it possible for us to once again experience a bit of the joy and the wonder Adam and Eve experienced in Eden’s Garden. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus broke the curse and made it possible for us to live in relational harmony with one another.

But why is it, then, that there is such strife and contention in this area? Why is this conflict between the genders so pronounced? It’s because people are not walking in accordance with God’s plan, but rather, as the book of Judges says, each one is doing what is right in his own eyes.

Do you want to know how to live in harmony with your spouse? Do you want to know the answer to all of the gender based conflicts which exist between men and women? I’ve got the answers right here, right here in God’s word. Let me spell some of them out for you this morning.

A. Get Your Heart Right

Get your Heart right – the place to start is by your heart right with God. You cannot hope to be in right relationship with God’s creation if you are not in properly related to the Creator. God has a plan for men and a plan for women. He has a grand design for what He intended marriage to be and how He intends the husband and the wife to function within the family. Any deviation from this design will end in disaster. The reason we have people who are confused about their gender, the reason we have men desiring men and women desiring women, and men desiring women other than their wives, women desiring men other than their husbands and every other form of sinful desire, is because people continue to walk in rebellion against God. The place to start if you want to be at peace with who you are, what you were made to be and to know how to go about being it, is to get your heart right with God.

B. Align Your Head

When you get your heart right with God you will begin to see things differently and you’ll get your head rightly aligned with God’s word. When God changes your heart, you’ll begin to think differently. Some people make the mistake of thinking they are like they are because of the way they feel, but feelings have never been a good guide in life. Man is to live by every word which proceeds forth from the mouth of God, not by the every changing vicissitudes of emotion. Emotions are a poor guide through life. They are destitute of the wisdom necessary to make the most important decisions in life. When your heart is right with God, He will open your spiritual eyes and you will begin to see and understand truth for what it is. Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 that the things of God are spiritually discerned and cannot be understood by the person who is carnally minded. Get your heart right, then get your head right and finally, God will make your home right.

C. Let God Do The Rest

God will make your home right – if you want to have the kind of marriage, the kind of relationship God intended you to have, where you love your spouse and they love you in return, where you do things for each other selflessly not selfishly, where there is a trust and a bond of intimacy which transcends all other human relationships,; simply put, if you want joy in your marriage, you’ve got to start by surrendering your heart to God, then He will change the way you think and scripture says, commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established, then after your heart is right and your head is right, then, God will do a wonderful transformation in your home and He will make it right. This is the secret to happiness in marriage. This is the secret to recapturing the wonder God intended marriage to be. It is in being right with God, thinking in line with His word and acting in line with His will and His divinely created role for you in your marriage.

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