Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. …Gen 2:18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
As a man and husband and Pastor it doesn’t hurt me every now and then to stop and consider whether I am living up to these three things as the Lord would have me or even putting forth the effort I should. So as I was considering the above passages some thoughts occurred to me as to the relationship between Adam and Eve and with that the relationship between a man and his wife.
Without question most people today have completely lost sight of the order that God ordained at creation within the marriage relationship. If the Bible is clear on anything it is that the man is to be the head of the family and the wife is to submit to that leadership. As men have capitulated their leadership the family has suffered. But historically men of all cultures tend to have carried their headship to extremes in the opposite direction. The problem isn’t that they have let their wives assume the head of the relationship but that husbands have assumed more authority than God has ordained them to have. Let me explain:
The above verses tell us two very important things. First of all, in verse 15 we learn that man was put on earth to be God’s steward. We are here to serve him with all that he has given us which includes our very lives and bodies. We were never meant to be self-serving and when we are we are committing the very sin that Adam and Eve committed when they fell. The only time we are fulfilling our purpose in life is when we are doing everything to the glory of God. Another way to say this is that we were put on earth to be image bearers; God's image.
Secondly, in verse 18, in the context of our purpose for being given life God gives Adam a helper who is fit for him to accomplish his purpose of serving God; a wife; not women in general. Women are not a subclass of humans to be used by men as they wish. I would assume any Christian man would agree with this last statement but my point is that this also is true of his wife.
In other words, his wife is not given to him for his own personal enjoyment or his own personal servant to boss around as he sees fit. Instead, she is here to help her husband as well as herself be an image bearer. That comes before anything else. Unfortunately many times this is not how even Christian men have taken the headship of the husband to mean. They are quick to tell their wives that they are to submit to them but they totally ignore what godly headship means. Our wives were given to us to help us serve the Lord, not to serve our self-interest that have nothing to do with serving the Lord. As soon as a husband tries to use the marriage relationship for his own purposes apart from the will of God, he oversteps his authority. It seems that often what I see, and am certainly guilty myself at times, is that we men love to speak of wifely submission but hate to hold ourselves equally accountable to godly headship. We love to tell our wives that they are to submit no matter how ungodly we might be acting but never hold ourselves to the same accountability.
Now clearly as 1 Pet. 3:1 says, submission is a creation ordinance for a wife even if her husband is unsaved, 1Pe 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. But I don’t believe they are required to submit to their husbands if told to do that which is disobedient to the Lord. I think some men might disagree with me because they see submission as more important than the charge of the man to love his wife as God loves the church. But the point of this articles is a call to Christian husbands to quit being hypocritical and hold ourselves just as strongly to godly headship as we hold our wives to. And if our wives balk at following us when we are being ungodly let us be slow to condemn them when our sin as leaders is greater.
Why would any of us want to put our wives into a situation in which she must try to decide if she must disobey her husband in order to obey Christ? We husbands are just as accountable to love our wives and lead them in serving the Lord as they are to submit to that leadership. And so their lack of submission is no worse a sin than our lack of loving them and being a godly head. Marriage and life isn’t about us men; it is about our head, the Lord Jesus Christ.