This past Sunday (and this upcoming Sunday), our text will be Genesis 2:18-25. In the process, we looked at God’s design for marriage — a union with “a helper fit for him,” ezer kenegdo.
When I mentioned the implications of these verses, I talked about how God’s design for the male-female relationship was never meant to be abusive, exploitative, or oppressive. Instead, those things are part of the Fall—the disruption of God’s design on display in Genesis 3.
It’s worth saying a few more things about that, things that might not make it into future sermons, so they will have to reside here.
But first, it’s good to remind ourselves of what I already said in the Oct. 10 sermon: I highlighted Genesis 3:16, in which God curses the woman by saying, “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I noted that I do not have a good explanation for why God would issue such a curse; I only know what this verse indicates—that patriarchy and abuse are not part of the original design.
And if Christ is the Second Adam who reverses the curse, he reverses not only the pronouncement of death (see 1 Cor. 15), but also the other parts of the curse, including men ruling over women.
At this point in human history, the curse is not fully reversed because the kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet fully consummated. As people who pray for the kingdom to fully come, we should hear Genesis 2 & 3 as a clarion call for followers of Jesus to pursue the original design by fighting against abuse and oppression by men against women. If anything the man is called to give his life for his bride (i.e., Eph. 5). In a more general way, we should work to fight abuse and be ministers of reconciliation. (During the sermon on Oct. 10, I highlighted how the Executive Committee of the SBC was not living into that call. Read more about that here.)
Beyond what I already mentioned in the sermon, Genesis 3 has other implications for our relationships. Let’s look at two more:
FIRST: As indicated in Genesis 3, all of us are depraved. In a literal sense, the word depravity means that we’re all twisted—i.e., the image of God still resides within us, but as a result of the Fall, that image is now distorted. For those that have been part of Faith for some time, you might recall that I covered this distortion in detail during a sermon series on the human condition from Winter 2020 (click here).
With regard to this current sermon series, it is simply worth noting that this human condition has profound implications for marriage. When a man and a woman come together, they need to be realistic. They will not be magically whisked into Garden of Eden to enjoy the original design described in Genesis 2. Rather, they have to deal, by God’s grace, with the realities of Genesis 3. In other words, they need to embrace that they are two flawed human beings, encountering one another in a fallen world.
In order to navigate this well, they will need what was stressed in the first sermon of this series: identity in Christ. We need the grace of God—for ourselves, for each other, for our union. Otherwise, our Fallenness might eat us alive. If you want a marriage book that does a great job acknowledging the reality of fallenness and pointing us to Christ, see Paul David Tripp’s Marriage: 6 Gospel Commitments Every Couple Needs to Make. He nails it right away in chapter one.
SECOND: Based on Genesis 3, Christians affirm that a core aspect of our depravity is that we are prone for our loves to be directed toward the wrong things. Augustine called these “disordered loves.” In our modern era, James K.A. Smith has resurrected Augustine’s emphasis on disordered love (see Desiring the Kingdom or You Are What You Love). Similarly, the great spiritual master, Ignatius of Loyola, spoke often of “disordered attachments“—that we have an inherent drive to attach ourselves to things other than God, things that keep us from attaching to God. (Google it) The prophet Jeremiah said it this way:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
This leads to a broad theological principle that Christians affirm; namely, our internal desires do not justify outward behavior. Since we affirm that our hearts & desires are “desperately sick,” no follower of Jesus would affirm the idea that “as long as a desire is unchosen, it is therefore okay to act upon.” We all have many feelings or inclinations that feel unchosen and yet, are prohibited by God—whether they be anger, greed, or lust.
Consequently, we affirm that we need Christ. We need him to straighten us where we are twisted and in the process, orient us toward the Kingdom. In fact, that’s what God does to us every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. That’s what we do every week in worship as we confess to going astray, accept God’s grace anew, seek God’s direction through the Word, and have our souls centered at the Table. Our hearts are desperately sick and need continual reorientation toward the Kingdom.
Yet, the prevailing argument in Western culture is that certain inclinations, especially regarding sexuality, should be indulged. Consequently, Christians are mocked for saving sex for marriage. Consequently, porn is widely embraced as normal. Consequently, divorce is promoted based simply on changing feelings. And people like Wesley Hill are derided for ‘repressing’ their sexual inclination in favor of a historic Christian view of marriage.
As Christians, we live in a counter-cultural way. We believe that the world is not as God designed or intends. Things are not as they should be. That’s why we pray for his kingdom to come, and in the meantime, we keep all the D-words from this blog in mind: disruption of God’s intentions, distortion of the imago Dei, depravity of each individual, disordered loves in every heart. We desperately need the grace of God to dignify us again by restoring God’s design.