Imagine that you are standing beside a towering, wooden fence. You peer through the tiny cracks that seem to call your name. Through those inviting spaces, you see a beautiful garden. Your heart is captivated, and you intently examine the beauty of the garden. You desire to walk in the midst of this delightful garden, but you are forbidden. Something holds you back. Something prevents your entrance. The tall, wooden fence seems to loom In front of you. You can see the beautiful garden, and you desire to live within those exquisite surroundings, yet you find you are still standing on the outside. Why can’t you enter in and walk there forever?
This simple analogy is meant to portray what sometimes happens to us as we study the truths of Scripture regarding marriage. We can go to the garden in Genesis and see the beauty of marriage as God created it. We get a glimpse of the goodness of it, yet we find ourselves standing on the outside. We would love to be able to walk in the truths that we have learned, yet something prevents us, and we cannot enter in.
Why do we struggle in living out the truths of God’s Word? Why does a marriage often end up being a miserable battleground rather than the delightful companionship that God intended? Why, when we desire to change, do we continually return to the battle? Interestingly, the answer can be found back in the book of Genesis.
A careful examination of the Scriptures will shed light on our dilemma. In Genesis 1, we a saw God speaking His perfect Creation into existence. Then in Chapter 2, we saw details explained concerning the creation of the man and the woman. We got a glimpse of the perfect harmony between the man and the woman. Chapter 2 closes with the joining of the two into one flesh. And they both were naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed.
But as soon as Chapter 3 opens, deception, temptation, disobedience, and sin unfold. God’s perfect Creation is marred by sin. Innocence, perfection, peace, and harmony immediately disappear. How drastically different the relationships become. For the first time, the man and the woman become aware of their own selves. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked. For the first time ever, they become aware of their own flesh.
In addition, their response to God Himself completely changes. They are afraid, and they hide themselves from God. And as God questions them about their sin and disobedience, blaming and accusations emerge. God declares the consequences that will face not only them, but mankind, forever. And it is here, as a result of sin, that the struggle is born.
But an even more careful examination of Genesis 2 and 3 will reveal more!
Regarding the man:
In his creation: God created the man from the dust of the ground.
In his work: God took the man and placed him in the garden to dress it and keep it. (His work was directly related to the substance from which he had been created.) And God took him and placed him there.
In the consequence of his sin: Now difficulty would arise in the very calling and placement of God. Sorrow, toil, difficulties, thorns, thistles, sweat, struggles would exist in the very calling and purpose for the man.
And follow the parallels regarding the woman:
In her creation: God created the woman from the side of the man, from his rib
In her work: God took the woman and brought her to the man. (Her work was also directly related to substance from which she had been created – to be by his side as a help and companion to him.) And God took her and brought her to the man.
In the consequence of her sin: We know simply from the design of the woman’s body, that she was the one who was designed to carry children within the womb, to provide a safe, nurturing environment for those children to grow and develop, and she was the one who was designed to nurse children as she snuggled them close to her breast. But, a part of her consequence would be that in the very thing for which she was created and designed, she would now experience pain and sorrow! She would struggle not only in the bearing of children, but in the raising of them!
Additionally, though she had been created to be a help to the man, she would now desire to rule over him, and, in return, he would rule over her! Recalling that all of these were negative consequences, we now can understand more clearly the struggle.
What really happened?
The consequences of sin brought an awareness of flesh, a separation from God, and struggles in the very purpose for which God had created both the man and the woman.
Why the struggle, we ask?
We struggle so hard in our marriages because those consequences remain for mankind. We now have a keen awareness of our own flesh and its desires and are ruled by them; we are separated from God and live apart from Him; and we fight and struggle within the consequences of sin declared from the beginning.
The picture is bleak. Is there no hope? Must we always stand on the outside looking in to God’s perfect ways, but never enter in?
Oh, no, no, no, my friend! There is an answer, but it must be God’s way, and not our own. What, then, is the answer?
First, we must be reconciled to God, and He has made that possible through Jesus Christ. In actuality, He reaches out and calls us to return to Him! And the struggles of life serve to cause us to see our need for Him.
Secondly, we must subdue the flesh. We must understand that it is impossible for our flesh to produce any good thing. Our flesh only produces selfishness and strife, both in actions and words. We must allow the Spirit of the Living God to fill us and control us. For if you recall, it was the presence of the Spirit of God that Adam and Eve lost which caused them to become so aware of their flesh.
And finally, we must return to the purpose for which God created us. For the man, dressing and keeping the garden seemed to have the concepts of provision and protection woven within. And for the woman, God’s creative purpose would include being a help and companion to the man. Additionally, from that union of the two becoming one, God would bring children into the marriage for the husband and wife to nurture, love, and raise to the glory of God.
Three things are a must: 1) a living, loving relationship with The Lord, 2) control by the Spirit of God, and 3) walking in the calling for which God created you.
The struggles will diminish, the joy will increase, and you will forever delight that you entered in!