After having read Colossians 3:20–21 and Ephesians 6:2-4 we might ask ourselves the question, “what’s going on in homes?” Homes can seem s broken and it seems that if God designed the family, it would function more flawlessly. The experience for most of us is decidedly less than flawless. So, what is going on in the home that causes this tension between fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and fathers and children? What is the problem? To find the answer to the question we return to the very beginning in Genesis 3.
16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” -Gen 3:16–19
The passage is broken into two distinct sections directed first at the woman and second at the man, although as we will see, both have implications for the other as well.
The curse that the woman is given as a result of sin is directed at the home. If you notice the curse is entirely focused on the relationships with children and with parents. There are four different problems that come from this simple verse. These are the different curses which affect the home. First, the woman will have pain in child birth. This is fairly self-explanatory, because all mothers have experienced it and if you aren’t a mother your mother has probably reminded you on more than one occasion how painful it was to give birth to you. The second part deals not with child bearing, but goes further on into child rearing. The “bringing forth” of a child is delivering them from childhood to adulthood. Not only will it be painful to give birth to children, but it will often times be a painful thing to raise children. Parenting, while rewarding, is also a very difficult thing to do. Children are rebellious, can be cruel at times, and often make poor decisions that can break their parents hearts. If you notice, the curses for the woman are all directed at the home. The home is where God has given women the greatest passions, and women have desires to raise children that men do not, but because of the seriousness of the curse, it is also the place where women feel to the greatest extent the effects of the curse.
The tension between parents and children will tend to break the hearts of mothers, and creates chaos in the home. This chaos continues to the third part of the curse which refers to a wife’s tension with her husband. There are two parts to this. The first section, “Your desire shall be for your husband”, has a great deal to do with the husband’s curse. If we look at the section directed toward the husband, we see one glaring omission. In the husband’s curse, there is a glaring omission of any reference to the home at all. This stands in apposition to the woman’s curse which was focused on the home. The tendency of men as a result of sin is not to micro manage his home, but rather the opposite. The husband’s tendency is to be completely removed from the home either entirely physically or mentally and emotionally. There is a tendency for men to fail to truly be involved in the home and to be preoccupied outside it. When we look at our world, it is not uncommon to see the passive father in the family who is not really involved in raising the children. This comes into place in the woman’s curse, because the woman, in response to this passivity of her husband, will attempt to fill the role as leader of the home. This creates tension in the relationship, causes men to become disgruntled and possibly simply leave the home, and is overwhelming for a wife who now has to play two parents in order to care for the home that she is passionate about. The other extreme is also offered by the curse when Genesis says while speaking to the woman, “. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Not only will there be tension in the relationship because of the father’s passivity and lack of passion in the home, but this will be made worse by a man’s misunderstanding of leadership. Some men will be cruel, abusive, and “rule” their homes in a tyrannical way. This same term is applied to cruel dictators. We can see this in the first two passages that I mentioned, that fathers are generally the guiltiest of being cruel to their children.
This is not the way the home was designed to be, but this is what sin made the home. Most of the problems in the home can be traced back to this very passage, but we may ask “how does knowing this change anything?” It should influence us in two ways. First, if we understand who we are as broken husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers, we can be more intentional about recognizing and avoiding our broken tendencies. If I recognize that as a husband, I am less passionate about the home and prone to passivity in my family I can be proactive about changing and growing in these areas. Knowing who we are as broken people helps us to see our blind spots and not just go along with the broken tendencies we have. The second thing it does is help us to recognize more the value of the spouse that God has given us. If we recognize who our spouse is despite the temptations that they naturally have as broken men and women, we can learn to appreciate the choices they make to be engaged in the home in the right way and to live according to God’s design. Because of the curse of sin, it is wholly unnatural in one sense to live as a married team who are both involved in living in the roles that God designed in the home and raising children in that home. Appreciate your spouse’s unnatural decision to be a Godly husband or wife. Also, maybe cut them a little slack. After all, we could all use a little forgiveness.