Genesis 3:16 (NKJV)
16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”
For the last several weeks we have emphasized that God is the One who designed man as male and female. He created Adam, He announced that it was not good for man to be alone, He paraded the animals before Adam so that Adam would sense his incompleteness, He put the man to sleep and fashioned the woman from his rib, He presented the woman to the man as his helper. All this was God’s doing, God’s design.
So what went wrong? Why is it that we have strife and competition between men and women? Our text today answers the question clearly: strife between men and women is a judgment from God visited upon our rebellion. “Your desire,” God announces to Eve, “shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Though God had created Adam and Eve to live in harmony, now there would be strife. No longer would she willingly and joyfully submit to her husband but would desire to subdue him, to subvert his God-ordained position of authority. No longer would he lovingly guard and protect and nourish his wife but would oppress her. This relational strife was a direct result of our rebellion and explains a large swath of human behavior.
Why is it that a man oftentimes uses his strength to batter and abuse a woman rather than to protect her? Why is it that a man is willing to exploit a woman sexually? Why is it that he is willing to terrorize a woman? To treat her with benign neglect? Deem her his inferior intellectually, morally, spiritually, emotionally? Because of our rebellion against God.
Why is it that a woman oftentimes uses her beauty to seduce a man rather than to glorify him? That rather than submit to her husband’s authority she will seize that authority for herself, either by intimidation and threats or by whining and manipulating her way into power? Why is it that a woman will mock and scorn a man who is willing to lead and protect his family or will give a nasty look to a man who opens the door for her? Because of our rebellion against God.
The strife between male and female is a consequence of our sin, a judgment visited upon us by God Himself. But here is the good news. Because God visited this judgment upon us, He can also take it away. And when we seek His forgiveness through Christ, when we acknowledge that we have rebelled against Him and brought all this disaster upon ourselves and that our only solution lies in the Lamb of God who died for our sins, He will forgive us. And what’s more, He promises to enable us by His Spirit to recover the harmony that was lost in our rebellion. We can, through the renewal of the inner man, live in harmony one with another – as husband and wife, as brother and sister, as father and daughter, as mother and son, as brother in Christ to sister in Christ. We can, by the grace of God, learn to live in harmony as male and female once more. We can be a new humanity.
And so in order to achieve this, we must begin by acknowledging that it is our own sin that has gotten us into this mess. It is our own folly that has introduced tension where there ought to have been peace and concord. So reminded of our sin, let us kneel and let us confess our sins to the Lord. There will be a time of silent confession followed by a public prayer of confession.