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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: Reverse the Curse?

on December 5, 2013

screaming womanI read an article in a parenting magazine recently that was discussing a particular type of current sitcoms. The article called these particular sitcoms the “Mom-Com.” Here’s the description of the moms of the 21st century: “These aren’t perma-smiling, pie-baking June Cleaver types. Today’s TV moms are snarky, cynical, and edgy, just the way we like ’em.”

These kinds of wives and moms are the women being extolled today. But God had quite a different type of wife in mind–from the very beginning. We will learn that God’s divine design for women is submission. {Gasp! Women, what is your very first response when you hear the word submission? I can’t imagine how the parenting magazine contributors and readers would respond! But hopefully–as Christians–our reactions are conditioned by Scripture. “If you react negatively to the idea [says Carolyn Mahaney in her book Feminine Appeal], chances are you have only seen a warped or defective product, because the genuine article of submission brings immeasurable benefit to our marriages and tremendous honor to the gospel” (137).}

God’s Flawless Design

God designed men to lead and women to submit to that leadership. It is important to note that male leadership was established before the fall (Gen 3).  Many argue that male leadership over women resulted from the consequences of the fall (Gen 3:16). They argue that the purpose of Christianity is to reverse the effects of the fall by returning to equality of the sexes. That is, Christianity should eventually negate the need for submission (c.f. Gal 3:28, a verse that teaches unity in Christ within diversity, not equality in all things).

You can see this belief that submission is a result of the fall in the phrase “Reverse the Curse.” At the university I attended people jokingly laughed about this phrase, referring to “Sadie Hawkins Day,” a day when the girls were able to ask the guys out. However, the concept of “reversing the curse” implies that submission is a result of the curse.

The Bible is clear that the wife is to submit to her husband, her leader. Adam and Eve exemplify this teaching in a perfect world. While Adam’s leadership over Eve is not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is implied in several ways:

1.  The Order of Creation: Genesis 2:7, 21-22

Man was created before the woman. This creation order is important to note because the apostle Paul cites it as significant in 1 Timothy 2:13: “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” Elsewhere, Paul reminds his readers that “man was not made from woman, but woman from man.” (1 Cor 11:8). Paul considered the order of creation to be important in his own case for male leadership (see 1 Cor 11:7-10).

While the creation order does not demand male leadership, it does evidence male leadership. God states elsewhere that man is the head (i.e., leader) of the woman (1 Cor 11:3). The creation order reflects this leadership.

2.  The Naming of Woman: Genesis 2:19-23

The naming of an object or individual in the Old Testament is widely recognized to be a sign of authority. Adam named the animals, signifying his dominion over them. Adam’s naming Eve as well implies his leadership role.God actually brought all the animals to Adam to be named. Adam then  realized that he did not have a corresponding partner as all the animals did (2:19-20). Thus God graciously made Eve out Adam’s flesh (2:21-22). Adam then named his wife “Woman” (2:23).

3.  The Role of Helper: Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:9

As was discussed earlier, God created the woman to help the man. Paul also used this fact to argue for male leadership (1 Cor 11:9). Woman was created for the man. The woman’s role as helper implies male leadership.

Male leadership and female submission existed before the fall.  From the beginning of creation, God designed men to be leaders and women to be submitters. Thus, God designed wives to follow their husbands in submission.

If we as women are designed to submit, why is it that submission is such a struggle?  Why must we fight daily to submit as we were created to do? The answer is found in the story of the fall.

Women’s Fallen Desire: Genesis 3

Satan was very crafty. He knew exactly how to deceive Eve to get her to his side. He cast doubt on God’s command (v 1), denied the consequences of disobedience (v 4), and claimed that sin would be profitable (v 5).

The result? Eve sinned in a two-fold manner: She refused to obey God and she took sinful leadership in leading Adam to sin as well.

The consequences? Pain in childbirth {enough said!}. The desire to rule. Sin had tainted the harmony God designed in marriage. When sin has the upper hand, the woman struggles to overcome and rule over the man. The man sinfully domineers the woman. Carolyn Mahaney aptly says,

It is actually weakness on display when a wife is not submissive; she is only caving in to her natural inclination to usurp authority and demand her own way. That doesn’t take any effort at all (Feminine Appeal, 140).

What then is a woman to do? She is created to submit, yet every aspect of her being longs to rule over her husband. The answer lies in a promise of deliverance within God’s curse on the serpent.

God’s Faithful Deliverance: Genesis 3:15

{This is my favorite part!!}

God’s future deliverance

Despite the gloom and harshness of the curse in Genesis 3, there is yet hope for mankind. In God’s curse on the serpent, He promises ultimate victory over sin through the woman’s seed—Jesus. If you like big words, Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, the first proclamation of the Gospel.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

God will triumph over Satan in the future.  Though Satan “bruised” Jesus at the cross, Jesus crushed Satan at the cross (Heb 2:14; Col 2:14-15). And God will crush Satan forever in the future (Rom 16:20).  One day, we will be like Christ perfectly, and we will no longer sin. The struggle to submit will be over.

God’s present deliverance

Not only is there hope for change in the future, there is also hope for change in the present. Eve had become a “friend” of Satan by placing her trust in Satan’s promises rather than God’s when she took the fruit. Genesis 3:15 makes it clear that, after the fall, Satan became Eve’s enemy. Her heart was changed. She became a lover of God.

God uses many passages in Scripture detailing how we are to submit. God can shape our fallen desires into his divine mold of Christ-like submission.  As Christians, we also are “new creatures” (2 Cor 5:17). We must allow God’s grace to change us to help us submit to our male leadership.

Conclusion: God’s divine design for women has always been submission. Our sinful tendencies always hinder us from perfectly aligning with God’s design. However, the transforming work of Christ in our hearts allows us to overcome our sinful tendencies and submit by God’s grace to the men in our lives.

One of the most helpful applications may simply be realizing that we are daily fighting a sinful desire to rule over our male leadership.  Yet, as new creatures in Christ, we can obey as God has given us the strength to do so.

**The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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One response to “Thursday Thoughts: Reverse the Curse?

  1. Linda Huffstutler says:

    The wife and mother who is consciously obedient to the Lord by submisson to her husband’s leadership sets the tone for peace and joy in her family relationships. …a sweet testimony to the Lord.

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