The roles of man and woman outlined in Genesis 2 clearly state that the woman is a “help meet” for the man. A
husband and wife in the Truth will be aware of the failure of our first parents to uphold this standard. Today’s
world is the result of their failure. As we review the breakdown of the unique relationship between Adam and Eve and God Himself we shall see the excellent wisdom in recording the Divine judgments upon both the man and the woman as described in Genesis 3.

At the end of Genesis 2, we meet Adam and Eve in their “novitiate” with their joy and pleasure of being one together. Adam’s declaration in Genesis 2:23 captures this as he was able to behold the other part of himself and reflect upon the desire to be one without any sense of shame. Their relationship was pure, untainted by the series of events which would follow.

The joy did not continue. A mental and moral meddling by the serpent-mind broke into their relationship between themselves and their God. This would finally be felt in its physical outworking; a defiled conscience and physical decay ending in death.

Features of Genesis 3 Which Impact Upon the Marriage Relationship:

  • Eve was made as a help meet for Adam (not the leader in their relationship)
  • Adam as the head held the responsibility to guide and direct their lives according to God’s Law
  • As a consequence of what happened in Eden between Eve and the serpent, the world, or “all that is in the world”, challenges the integrity of God. Given opportunity in family life, this “challenging” of God’s ways, whether it is shown by the husband, the wife or a third party, undermines the Divinely appointed requirements in a marriage. This leads to sin, stress, guilt, and self justification, all of which contribute to marriage breakdown.
  • There is a way of restoration in family relationships. It follows the same Divinely appointed way of reconciliation which Yahweh instituted after the failure of our first parents. It involves:

– Acknowledgment of wrong

– The offering of reconciliation by the “innocent party”, if there is one in any human dispute!

– The recognition that Yahweh has been wronged and that the sin is against Him

– The mutual working together through the consequences of the sin with a view to the re-establishment of harmony between the parties

– Sacrifice by both parties (too often substitutionary sacrifice is expected)

Nothing will work unless both parties want reconciliation and are committed to it.

The lovely scene of harmony recorded in Genesis 2 gave way to the moral seduction by a third party and the consequent disharmony coupled with fear and guilt of Genesis 3. We need to be aware of the way in which Eve’s mind was taken and turned to the serpent’s reasoning by a process of logic which appealed to her propensities and intellect.

The challenging question which aroused a reply, the thought processes which can lead to doubts and fears, the revealing of inner thoughts and emotions to another party, the wrongful sharing of the newfound experiential knowledge and its associated flesh-centred satisfaction all laid the foundations for sin against Yahweh and her husband (Gen 3:1-7).

We are familiar with the events of Genesis 3 from a doctrinal point of view. This doctrinal familiarity must also involve an understanding of its practical consequences in daily life. The same fundamental processes commenced in Genesis 3 are still prevalent in marriage breakdowns today.

In today’s world, where tragically it is not uncommon for the sister-wife to seek employment as well as being both wife and mother, the sister is vulnerable to the serpent-mind with all its subtlety and logic intact from the days of Eden. The words of Paul have a timely warning: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor 11:2–3).

The too familiar failure of a husband to understand the needs of his wife and his resultant inability to cultivate and care for his wife’s spiritual development, leaves the sister-wife in a vulnerable position. All it needs then is to place the wife in daily contact with minds of this world which cannot be subject to the ways of God and the seed plot of Genesis 3 begins to sprout once more.

The satisfaction of mental stimulation, even when it involves wrong thinking, will quickly draw the person whose mind is active but has not been exercised on the Word of God. Both men and women are susceptible to this.

The “opening of the eyes” of Eve was followed by the use of her new-found knowledge and experience to draw her husband into the same state. This she successfully did by the means now open to her. The results soon found expression in a joint endeavour to cover up the results of their transgression: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen 3:7). The truth requires an openness and honesty with each other and with God. We can never “cover up” our sins. They will show themselves in guilt, self-justification and the inevitable “running away” from God or each other.

It is the “Voice of Yahweh” which can bring us to our senses. Although initially we may want to hide, yet the questioning gaze of God’s Word will reveal us for what we are: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb 4:12–13).

Even in the blackest moments of their transgression Adam and Even found that Yahweh would still persist. He would not leave them to their own devices, even though they had failed.

The example of Genesis 3:9-13 provides a valuable insight into the escape mentality so common to all of us. There is a very strong tendency to circumvent the real issues: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen 3:9–10). It is also common to spread the blame to other parties and to justify ourselves: “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 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” (Gen 3:12-13).

In all of this the serpent mind was evident. The misrepresentation of the issues involved, the spreading of the blame by embroiling others, the self-justification by the use of counterclaim, all are common failings of the human race and we are prone to stoop to the same methods in our dealings with each other.

The value in Yahweh’s handling of the issues in Genesis 3 must not be lost on us. He helped Adam and Eve to face the reality of what they had done. Theirs was the guilty conscience, the separation from God, the loss of true fellowship. By helping them to face up to the effects of their failure God prepared them for His move towards reconciliation. As always the innocent party is the only one who can offer reconciliation, but it must be on terms which uphold God’s righteousness, His grace and mercy. These we are familiar with in relationship to the coming of our Lord as “the seed of the woman”. They involved the maintaining of opposition against the serpent-mind and those who reflect it, the recognition that they would suffer the consequences of sin, yet there would be an ultimate reversal of their unhappy state with complete harmony restored between the two parties of God and man.

The greatest degree of forethought is required when working out the process of reconciliation. This is seen by considering the terms of Genesis 3:16-19.

The terms of restoration to God focused upon reversing the damage of the dialogue with the serpent: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. The term “desire” or restoration, has its roots in the human relationship and its ability to return the mental, emotional and physical equilibrium of a partner. A dependency upon each other is developed which surpasses all other relationships except that with our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact true marriage is but a parable of that greatest relationship of all. The “rule” as we have described in a previous article (2), describes the husband’s ability to satisfy the wife’s mind, which evokes from her honour and respect towards him. The husband’s ability to do this for his wife is also evidence of his suitability for “kingship” in the Kingdom age. It was so with our Lord.

For Adam, the terms of restoration would remind him of what happened to his “garden” which should have been enclosed, or hedged about, to avoid any damage. Every time he pulled a thorn or thistle out of the ground it was an ungentle reminder of what had happened to his wife. It hurt but the ground could not yield her increase unless it was done. “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; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken.”(verse 19)

 The final reality of this life, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”, would be the all pervading sombre spectre which he would carry with him. Yet the message of hope in verse 15 captured Adam’s attention and gave him hope which he expressed in verse 20: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living”.

 In the process of reconciliation between a husband and a wife, all these issues need to be addressed including a message of hope which the partner can hold on to. There is, however, one additional major factor to remember. Within the human relationship there will often be some contribution to the problem by both parties. It is not a matter of apportioning the blame, but rather both parties need to seek to help the other towards reconciliation.

While the matters of Genesis 3 focus upon the role of Eve in the transgression, it must be remembered that “Adam was not deceived in the transgression” and suffered the consequences of his personal folly. In today’s society men are not living up to their God-given responsibilities. Brethren are not immune from this issue either. The way over this problem is to turn to our Lord and become familiar with his skills in dealing with his bride in every aspect of her needs. This we will address (God willing) in our next article.