Second Priority

The Christian Marriage

By J.M. Beatty

We all should understand the need for properly establishing the correct biblical and spiritual priorities. Since we were children raised in the Christian church we understood that the first three priorities were God, Family, and Church. Other organizations teach that our priorities should be God, Family, and Country. We all agree that our first priority should be our service and devotion to God, it’s the second priority that we will consider in this lesson.

I would like to challenge our perception of our second priority. The political sound bite of today is the importance we place on family and family related values. We hear political rhetoric that claims to heard the call to family values. Politicians cloak their political agendas in phrases such as "for the children", in order to claim family value acceptance. We have come to think that our families are only our children. Is FAMILY the second priority we should establish in order to correctly prioritize our spiritual walk with God? Lets seek to answer this question.

First Marriage

Gen 2:18-24 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (20) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (21) And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; (22) And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (23) And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (24) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (KJV)

In the book of Genesis we see God establishing the first marriage. From this reference we understand that the sacred institution is not family but the union of man and woman in marriage.

Being Alone

We often think that God is enough, but this is not the case for Adam and the male species. God realized that it was not good for man to dwell alone. Apparently there is a basic need that only a woman functioning as a "…help meet…" can fulfill. From this passage we can also conclude that the divine plan of God necessitates a balance that only a truly spiritual woman can bring into a relationship. Simply stated, man is not balanced without the helping influence of his woman. This point must be made clear the spiritual authority that man must exercise necessitates the divine influence that his help meet can provide. Before God, the Adamic male exercises the position of authority while the Adamic female has the position of influence.

Broken Relationship

Gen 3:8-19 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (9) And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (11) And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (12) And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (13) And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (14) And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: (15) And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (16) 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. (17) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (KJV)

Notice the change in the marriage relationship when disobedience and sin entered. Lets list a few ideas.

Nothing has changed, sin corrupted the first marriage and resulted in confusion, blame, and discord. Let me clarify this point with an example from the curse God gave to Eve.

Eve’s Curse

Desire - teshuwqah (tesh-oo-kaw'/8669); from 7783 in the original sense of stretching out after; a longing: KJV-- desire.

teshuwqah- (Brown-Driver-Biggs Lexicon)

desire, longing, craving

a) used of a man for a woman

b) used of a woman for a man

c) used of an animal for devouring

Notice that one application of this Hebrew word is used in connection with an animal craving to devour another animal. Put this application with the sin of Eve and a vivid picture forms. The sin of Eve was to walk with God in Adam’s place, or simply state, to take Adam’s spiritual place.

Consider with me this paradox. How is it a curse from God for a woman to have a longing desire for her husband. This is the nature order of marital relations. Eve’s curse would be to covet Adam’s position of authority in the family, while Adam’s response would be to surrender to Eve his position. The Adamic marriage curse is the longing desire for the wife to take the spiritual authority of her husband and to rule over him, while the husband would resist this action and strive to dominate his wife. Adam’s domination of Eve would result in his failure to take his spiritual position with God, and surrender his spiritual headship to his wife.

Its important we understand that the Adamic marriage curse resulted in conflict and blame. The Adamic wife will covet her husband’s spiritual position, while the Adamic husband will strive with his wife for dominance, but at the same time he will surrender his spiritual authority to his wife.

Adam’s Curse

Up to this point we considered the impact God’s curse had on Eve and her involvement in the marriage. Now lets consider the effect God’s curse had on Adam, and his responsibilities to his marriage. Adam’s curse was for him to "…rule over…" Eve. At first glance we would think that this should be the nature order of things considering the fact that Adam stood in the position of authority. How is it a curse for the wife in a marriage to have desire for her husband, while the husband takes his rightful spiritual position of authority? If this is what we think, we have missed the serious-ness of God’s curse. What does it mean for Adam to know have the desire to rule over his wife?

rule - mashal (maw-shal'/4910); a primitive root; to rule: KJV-- (have, make to have) dominion, governor, X indeed, reign, (bear, cause to, have) rule (-ing, -r), have power.

mashal- (Brown-Driver-Biggs Lexicon)

to rule, to have dominion, to reign

a) (Qal) to rule, to have dominion

b) (Hiphil)

1) to cause to rule

2) to exercise dominion

Gen 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (KJV)

dominion - radah (raw-daw'/7287); a primitive root; to tread down, i.e. subjugate; specifically, to crumble off: KJV-- (come to, make to) have dominion, prevail against, reign, (bear, make to) rule,- r, over), take.

radah- (Brown-Driver-Biggs Lexicon)

1) to rule, to have dominion, to dominate, to tread down

a) (Qal) to have dominion, to rule, to subjugate

b) (Hiphil) to cause to dominate

2) to scrape out (Qal) to scrape, to scrape out

God cursed Adam with the sin of authoritative dominance. There is no doubt that Adam was given dominion over all fish, fowl, and all other creatures on the earth. Adam’s command from God was to rule and subjugate God’s creation. Adam was not to rule and subjugate Eve, they were to become "…one flesh…" in all facets of their relationship. Adam turned his command to have dominion over God’s creation on Eve. She now was put into the same place as all other objects on earth who was to be ruled and subjugated.

Gen 2:15-25 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (18) And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (20) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (21) And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; (22) And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (23) And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (24) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (KJV)

Eve was created to walk with Adam as one flesh – neither person having dominance over the other. The first marriage was to function as a united relationship with Adam loving Eve, and Eve showing reverence to Adam. In fact the command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil was given to Adam before Eve was created. We can conclude that Adam was responsible to teach Eve of God’s commands.

(Thought to Consider: After the fall of Adam and Eve when God came into the garden He only sought for the location of Adam not Eve. We can conclude from this fact that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day but not Eve. Even thought we observe in Genesis 5:2 that God "..called their name Adam.." this does not indicate that Adam and Eve walked together with God. The garden narrative shows a clear distinction between Adam and Eve.)

Gen 3:17-19 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (KJV)

Who received the command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? We could say that Adam and Eve both received the same command. But this would not be totally correct. Adam received the command from the mouth of God, and he taught his wife what God commanded. God judged Adam and Eve because Adam ate of the tree and violated God’s command not Eve. If both were being judged by God for eating then why did not He include Eve in this curse. Adam stood in the position of authority. In fact, Adam and Eve did not realize that they were naked until Adam ate the fruit, then their eyes were opened. Eve did not realize her nakedness when she first ate the fruit, because all spiritual insight was given to Eve through Adam.

Thorns and Thistles would be the fruit produced by Adam’s hard work, therefore we can conclude that spiritual thorns and thistles are the fruits produced by a married couple operating under the Adamic curse. This is a very important point and we will return to this issue.

Positive/Negative Influence

The divine plan for marriage has not changed since its inception in the garden of Eden. In the life of Adam the first priority was God, but his second responsibility was to his wife, Eve. Remember, the wife stands in the position of influence, and her function is to influence and encourage her husband to stand in his rightful place with God.

Wife that submits to God’s divine plan of Help Meet Influence.

Prov 5:18-23 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (19) Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. (20) And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? (21) For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. (22) His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. (23) He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Prov 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. (KJV)

Notice that a good wife helps her husband obtain favor with the LORD.

Prov 19:14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD. (KJV)

Wife that resists God’s divine plan to be a Help Meet Influence

Prov 19:13 A foolish son is his father's ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. (NIV)

The wife who misuses her of position of influence (nagging) for selfish purposes only frustrates the purposes of God in her husband. Remember, dear wife, whose image are you forming your husband into – yours or God’s. Husbands also should remember this point.

Redeemed Marriage

Eph 5:21-33 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (33) Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (KJV)

Submitting to One Another

The Apostle Paul in these verses made reference to the great mystery of the marriage covenant. He emphasized the correct spiritual duties of each partner in a redeemed marriage. The first statement given to us in verse 21 sets the proper tempo for each partner. We are to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord. True biblical submission cannot occur unless the servant attitude has control.

To be truly of one flesh requires much more than physical union, it also mandates a gradual union of mind and soul. Its interesting to note that couples who are experiencing the metamorphosis of becoming one flesh will often think and talk alike. To be of one flesh in a biblical sense requires a union of mind and purpose. Adam and Eve were of one flesh before Adam’s sin, they walked as one, and functioned as a united team. Sin corrupted the true spiritual union, and the ceased to function as a team being of one flesh. To submit ourselves to one another in the fear of the Lord is the first step we must take in order to establish a redeemed marriage. The Greek word Hupotasso provides insight into this concept.

submit - hupotasso (hoop-ot-as'-so/5293); from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey: KJV-- be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submitself unto.

hupotasso- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)

1) to arrange under, to subordinate

2) to subject, to put in subjection

3) to subject oneself, to obey

4) to submit to one's control

5) to yield to one's admonition or advice

6) to obey, to be subject;

A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a miliary fashion under the command of a leader." In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the head of each and every redeemed marriage, and each partner has a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden of the marriage. I cannot stress this enough, intersubmission and servanthood are vital keys to a successful redeemed marriage. The principle is as such, each partner seeks to be the servant to the other, therefore maintaining peace. Also each partner "…in honour preferring one another;" in the sight of God (Rom 12:10). Now that this point is understood lets ponder the marital responsibilities. In order to have a redeemed marriage based on the biblical pattern established in Genesis we must understand that we must become of One Flesh in more than physical union. To have a redeemed marriage we must occupy the positions that Adam and Eve established before the corruption of sin.

Redeemed Eve

Paul instructed to submit to her own husband as unto the Lord, for the husband is the spiritual head even as Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Lets compare this instruction with the first marriage. Adam held the position of authority while Eve occupied her position of influence. Paul’s instruction is designed to restore the divine order of the marriage.

When we compare this instruction with the need to submit ourselves to each other in the fear of the Lord, we could formulate this conclusion. The wife should use her position of influence to encourage her husband on in the things of the Lord. A serious spiritual problem arises when the wife uses her position of influence to mold her man into her personal image of the perfect mate. We are mandated by scripture to be molded into the image of Christ, not the image of our mate.

Redeemed Adam

The greater need for change in a redeemed marriage belongs to the husband, because he must take Adam’s place of spiritual authority. In an earlier portion of our study we recognized that Adam’s sin corrupted the marriage not the eating of the fruit by Eve. Remember, Adam and Eve did not realize that they were naked until Adam ate the fruit. Adam was cursed by God for eating the fruit not Eve, because Adam had the command from God to not eat.

In the redeemed marriage, the husband must take spiritual responsibility for the spiritual welfare of his family. If the devil is destroying a family we must look to the husband for the failure, because he is the covering and divine authority in the family. Its sad to see the wife doing the duty of the husband by acting as the spiritual head of the family, because her husband deems his career or his hobbies (fishing, hunting, cars, etc.) more important than taking his spiritual position. It’s a fearful thing to consider this possibility in the light of God’s judgment, since each husband will be accountable for the spiritual welfare of his family.

I have heard the concept of husband dominance and wife submission on several occasions in order to put wives into a subjugated frame of mind. This concept has its root in the Adamic curse with the husband using his authority in a domineering fashion. Remember this point, it was Adam’s sin that cursed the marriage. When the husband uses his spiritual authority in an attempt to "…rule over…" his wife, then the wife will also act out her portion of the Adamic curse. The only spiritual fruit these attitudes will produce is the thorns of confusion and the thistles of hostility.

The redeemed marriage must be seen in the light of mutual submission to Jesus Christ. Husbands have the command to love their wives in the same fashion as Christ love the church, who gave Himself for it. Jesus never approached the church in the position of dominating authority. We read in Matthew 20:25-28 that Jesus came to be the servant to his people not to be served by them. This is the love that Christ has for his church. Are we, as husbands, willing to love our wives with the same fervent desire? As long as we maintain the "Lord of the Manor" attitude then we only nurture the Adamic curse in our marriages. Our wives are not our personal slaves, then are our "Help Meets". Its easy for men to come home and allow their wives to function as slaves. Again, the root of this ignorance and slothful attitude is the Adamic marriage curse. We read in Paul’s exhortation the need for husbands to love their wives (not in a domineering fashion), and for the wives to reverence her husbands. This spiritual principle can only be realized when both partners are mutually submitted to each other in the fear of the Lord. When we study the Genesis narrative we see that Adam loved his wife with a fervent desire, while Eve reverenced her husband – this is the redeemed marriage.

(Thought to Consider: Should one partner in the marriage respond in a selfish, self centered fashion, does this fact release the other partner from his our her responsibilities to God in the redeemed marriage? The failure of one person to step away from the Adamic curse does not authorize the other partner to respond in the same fashion?)

Mal 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (6) And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Old Testament ends with the final warning that God will send the prophet Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. His mission will be to turn the hearts of the fathers to his children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Should the fathers fail to respond to God’s warning, He will come and smite the earth with a curse.

How serious are the principles I’m discussing in this lesson? Extremely serious, our response to these principles will determine the future of our human race. The call given by Elijah is a call to repent and turn from the Adamic curse that is destroying the families of God. The husband of a redeemed marriage will heed this call and will turn his heart toward his wife first, and then take responsibility for his own children. Lets conclude this lesson with one final thought.

Fruit for the Children

Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (2) Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (3) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (4) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Its interesting to note that the New Testament does not devote as much time for instruction in the nurturing of children. Nearly all New Testament instruction devoted to family is designed to help the marriage. Lets end this lesson with this thought. Remember, part of the curse given to Adam is that his labors would produce thorns and thistles. This principle is also true when we consider child nurturing. Children eat from the spiritual fruit produced by the marriage. If the spiritual atmosphere is built upon the pain and frustration of the Adamic curse then the spiritual fruit produced for the children is thorns and thistles (Gen 3:18). The opposite is also true; should the marriage be built on the redemption of Jesus Christ and the principles of a redeemed marriage, then the children will eat the good fruit of love and relationship with Jesus.

(Reference Scriptures: Prov 4:1 5:7 7:24 8:32 13:22 14:26 20:7 31:28 )