Let me begin tonight in honor of moms with a riddle: There was a perfect man who met a perfect woman. After a perfect courtship, they had a perfect wedding. Their life together was of course perfect. One snowy stormy Christmas Eve this perfect couple was driving along a winding road when they noticed someone at the roadside in distress. Being the perfect couple, they stopped to help. There stood Santa Claus with a huge bundle of toys. Not wanting to disappoint any children on Christmas Eve, the perfect couple loaded Santa and his toys into their vehicle. Soon they were driving along delivering the toys. Unfortunately, the driving conditions deteriorated and the perfect couple and Santa Claus had an accident. Only one of them survived the accident. Who was the survivor? Answer: The perfect woman, she’s the only one that really existed in the first place. Everyone knows there is no Santa Claus and there is no such thing as a perfect man. (applause) Now, I noticed all the women clapping on that and so here’s the male’s response. So, if there is no perfect man and no Santa Claus, the perfect woman must have been driving, this explains why there was a car accident. (laughter)
This was not real but it does illustrate a point, there’s always been both an attraction and a tension between the sexes, between men and women. It’s the differences that attract us, they draw us together. You’ve heard the old saying, “Opposites attract.” That is true. Sometimes a couple will get into a relationship and one of them will say, “We’re so different.” I know, that’s what attracted you in the beginning, many times. So it is a blessing, but it can be a two-edged sword. It can confuse us, it can cause much grief because of those differences. After a while she may something like, “Men, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. I don’t get them.” He might say, “Women. I don’t understand them, they’re so picky, they’re so strange.”
Maybe you’ve heard about the guy who was talking to God and God said he could have anything he wanted. So he said, “My request is that you would build a bridge from the mainland to Hawaii. I’d like to drive to Hawaii.” He was afraid of airplanes. God said, “Well, that’s a, that’s a big order, that’s a little too big, could you think of something else?” He said, “Okay God, my other request then is that you’d help me to fully understand women. I want to understand what makes them tick, I want to understand why they do what they do, I just want to understand everything there is to know about them.” God said, “About that highway, do you want two lanes or four lanes?”
Now, where did all of that start? Where does all of that go back to? What is the root cause of that animosity, that tension, and the differences between male and female? Well, it all goes back to an episode we’re about to read, way back with our forefathers, Adam and Eve, where the genetic code was changed on a spiritual level when sin entered the equation. Listen to Paul the apostle’s comments as he looks back to this chapter. This is out of Romans chapter 5. Paul says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race.” Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” Genesis, the third chapter is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Without Genesis 3 we are without an explanation for a lot of the junk that goes on in our world, a lot of the sin and the corruption. Without this explanation of the root origin, we’re in the dark as to why and how. With this, it helps us understand what’s going on. And Genesis chapter 3 also helps us understand the tension that goes on between the genders.
Let’s look at the first seven verses. We’re going to look tonight at the fall, the fallout, and the future of marital relationships. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day you will eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”
I don’t know where I read it, but somebody once said that Adam and Eve had the ideal marriage because he didn’t have to listen about all the other men she could have married and she didn’t have to listen to all of the banter about his mother would have cooked that meal. But the truth is it wasn’t really that ideal. In the beginning it was great, but a third party entered the equation, entered the garden. A superbeing disguised, a snake in disguise, it was Satan himself. Now the word serpent is in our translations, there may be a better translation however. Literally the Hebrew word means shining one. Shining one. And that’s why it could be translated “that the shining one said,” the idea of a serpent meant something different totally back then than it does to us today. You think of a slimy snake crawling up a tree. Shining one, Satan came as an angel of light. And that’s how he does it. He doesn’t come with the little horns and the pitchfork and the pointed tail, and the “Rargh, I’m the devil.” Because that would be totally ineffective. We’d say, “Oh, I get it.” But if you come disguised as an angel of light, with all of the glamour and the glitter of a shining one, it would be much more effective.
Now we get some insight here into Satan’s strategy, not only in the beginning but from the beginning throughout history. Paul the apostle said, “We are not ignorant of his strategies, his tactics.” And some of them are so predictable. Look at them. First of all Satan challenges God’s word. Verse 1, he says, “Has God indeed said…?” Now that is not a denial that God speaks. It was rather a denial that God said those words. Aw if to say, “Now Eve, are you sure that’s what God said? Are you sure you heard him correctly? You know, that’s what you thought he said, you could be delusional, you know.” Second, I think it’s really a challenge of God’s love. There’s an implication in this, “Has God really said that?” The implication is, “You know, if God loved you so much, why would he keep something like that from you?” That’s one of his tactics, by the way. It’s very familiar. It’s the thinking that, “Well if God is truly good, why would he keep you from any pleasure? If this makes y9ou feel good and you feel right about this right now, it can’t be bad, so why not do it?” Why would God keep you from pleasure? Why would God keep you in this relationship of marriage if it’s going to cause this? That’s not a God of love.” Something else in the strategy, verse 4, he denied God’s word. He said flatly, “You will not surely die.” Now that’s a direct attack on the revelation of God. “Well God said that and if he did, it’s not going to happen. That’s untrue.” The statement of God is false. What you read in the Bible is false.” That’s a familiar tactic, isn’t it? Well, “if you had sex before marriage, so what? It’s not going to kill you.” “If you bail on the marriage, so what?” “If you cheat on your wife or husband, so what?”
And then, look at verse 5, this is his fourth tactic in this fall: he substituted God’s word for his own lie. In verse 5, “he says, ‘For God knows in the day that you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” “Hmm,” she thought, “I’m going to be like God.” What a tactic that is. You know, Satan basically tries to pervert whatever is God’s order, whatever is God’s word, whatever God did in Creation, the idea is to twist it, turn it, reverse it, change it. So, in Creation, God made mankind in his own image. Satan will say, “Why don’t you just make God in your own image? Why don’t you just make up your own ideas about God, that whatever feels good and seems good to you, and then worship that projection, that ideal.” That’s what a lot of psychologists say that you do anyway. So, rather than being created in God’s image, according to God’s regulation and word, just create God in your image, which is exactly what happens.
George Barna, the researcher, says that “Americans today are more interested in spirituality than ever before in recent history. In the last forty to fifty years, we are keenly interested in spiritual thing.” But he is quick to also say, “It’s our own religion. It’s just generic spirituality, smorgasbord spirituality. And what we are doing in this country is taking whatever we feel is right, whatever we think is right, whatever we think God is and we’ll label it Christianity. It’s not Christianity. But we’ll put the label on it. It’s like taking the label off one thing on your shelf and putting it on another thing. “Let’s not call it Poison, let’s call it Christian. Different ideology, same label. So the thinking might be something like, “I’ll have a small order of Christianity, hold the guilt, a side order of Buddhism, mix in a little Dali Lama with that. A little Islam, liberal kind. Just throw it all together and I’ll believe that. It’s all good.”
Creating God in our own image. Now once you do that, once you create God in whatever your mind thinks God is then anything goes. Anything goes. If your God is what you make him to be, then you have now the jurisdiction to do anything you want. And here’s and example: I’ve had people say, “I’ve left my husband,” and “I left my wife, and even though you say the Bible says it’s wrong, I’ve never felt better. When I pray now I feel so close to God. I never felt better than I do now. I feel so spiritual and so in tune.” It’s because you’ve created, you’ve managed to justify creating God in your image, rather than submitting to the image God made you in.
Look at verse 6 a little more carefully, and verse 7, “When the woman as that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise.” You may want to circle three words there: food, eyes, wise. “She took of its food and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.” I say circle those three words because that is a predictable pattern of Satan. John mentions it in I John chapter 2, “All that is the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.” Now look at that again, the lust of the flesh, it’s good for food. The lust of the eyes, it’s pleasant to the eyes. And the pride of life, it’ll make me wise. And so she took it. Satan is an incessant enemy. In fact, understand that your enemy has studied your character very carefully. He knows what makes you tick, he know where your weak spots are, he has thoroughly studied you, so like a woodpecker that pecks along the tree to find the softest spot, that’s what he will gravitate toward. He never gives up.
There was a gal who was married to a miser. I’m not necessarily looking for hands raised at this point, “I can relate to that.” But she had to fight for anything and everything she wanted in this relationship. He was just a cheapskate, would rarely buy her anything and she announced to him, “I’m going to go window shopping,” she said, He said, “Okay, you can go window shopping and look but don[‘t buy.” So she goes out and comes back with a brand new dress. He says, “Now wait a minute, I gave you strict orders to look and not to buy.” She says, “I know honey but I tried the dress on and Satan was there and he whispered to me and he said, ‘That dress looks killer on you.’” He said, “Well you should have said ‘Get thee behind me Satan.’” She said, “I tried that. And he said, ‘You know it looks good from the back too.’” So there you got the husband blaming the dress on her, her blaming the dress on Satan. Which sounds like our story, it really does. Look in verse 8, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God in the cool of the day and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord called to Adam and He said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And so he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman who you gave me to be with me, she gave me of the tree. And I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.’” And so now you’ve got the serpent going, and who’s he going to point at? This is classic passing the buck. It’s gone on from the beginning, it still goes on today. But I want you to notice something in this. There’s a difference in the way I believe the man and the woman have experienced and dealt with this, this primary temptation of Satan. There’s a difference in the approach, there’s a difference in the response. And here is the difference, Eve was deceived by Satan but Adam flatly disobeyed. That’s the writing of scripture you know. Paul wrote to Timothy in I Timothy chapter 2:14 and he said, “Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into transgression,” meaning it was worse for Adam because he knew what he was doing. She was deceived, he just disobeyed. It’s not that she was less wise than Adam was but she was just more trusting. Did you notice that in this little cameo Eve is there listening to Satan, responding, talking, engaging in conversation with him, reasoning through it? And then she eats. It doesn’t say Adam said anything, you know he just grunted, ate. It was just this disobedient response. She was deceived, but he disobeyed. There’s a difference in the way it was handled.
There was a Harvard study of a hundred preschoolers. They took tape recorders out to playgrounds and listened to noises that preschoolers made on the playground. They discovered the a hundred percent, all of the sounds from the girl’s mouths were recognizable words. But only sixty percent of the sounds coming from little boys were recognizable, that the other forty sounds weren’t words but sound effects, “Boom, vroom, bam-bam, toot-toot, argh; that was boys. I’m here to tell you that persists I think through a lifetime. I still make sound effects. My wife brings that up, she goes, “It’s cute the way you make the sound of the actual thing that you’re trying to describe.” There is a difference between how wife, how temptation, how things are handled between a man and woman. And you know what? You’ll be happier in life if you recognize that, you will be. Instead of trying to fight, “Why is she so different?” “He’s so weird.” They’re different. You’re different. You’ll be happier if you understand that.
Listen to the words, the advice of Peter in I Peter chapter 3, verse 7, “In the same way you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.” Know her, understand her, her weaknesses, her fears, her joys. Embrace the differences, understand them. Adjust. We have a mutual responsibility to understand the differences between men and women. There’s differences in physiology, there’s differences in psychology, there’s differences in the way we express ourselves, the way we show affection to each other, the way we handle temptation, the differences in stamina, differences in sensitivity. Even though there are lobby groups in Washington that are trying to minify the differences between men and women and say, “There are no differences. It’s all a matter of training and upbringing and being pushed into it and formed into it by our educational system.” They’re wrong. It’s much deeper than that. There’s a basic difference in the fiber of life between men and women. Dr. Paul Popino, director of the American Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles, California said, (quote)”Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies.” And then he explains some differences. Here’s a list: they differ in basal metabolism. A woman’s metabolism is slower, a man’s is faster. This will help men why you like to windows open in the middle of winter with snow blowing on you and she wants a goose down comforter in the summer. There’s a difference in the metabolic rate. “Men and women differ,” he continues, “in skeletal structure.” A woman has a shorter head, a broader face, chin less protruding than a man, longer trunk, the first finger of a woman’s hand is usually longer than the third while me have this in reverse. There’s differences in the internal organs: women have a larger stomach, liver, kidneys, appendix; and smaller lungs. There’s differences in the glands: the thyroid of a woman,” he says, “is larger and more active, during pregnancy and menstruation. That provides resistance to cold and it’s associated with smooth skin and a relatively hairless body.” That’s a nice feature (laughter) “There’s a difference in the woman’s blood. Woman’s blood contains more oxygen and twenty percent fewer red cells. They supply (the red cells) the body with oxygen. Thus, a woman tires more easily and is more prone to faint. There’s differences in the heart rate. The heart rate of a woman beats more rapidly, eighty beats per minute as opposed to the average male, seventy-two beats per minute.” Now those are physiological differences between, generally, between men and women.
We’re also different in the way we communicate. The average woman, according to communication experts, speaks 25,000 words per day. A man will be lucky if he can eke out 10,000 words per day. That’s true, that’s true, women speak more than men. Or, let’s put it in reverse, men talk less, communicate less than women. Now what does that translate into martially? Well uh (laughter), it means that she has the need to have meaningful communication with her husband about forty-five minutes a day. He’s happy with fifteen minutes a week. There are differences in the way we feel the need for communication. Now, rather than pointing the finger at each other and saying, “You’re different, you’re weird, I can’t figure, you should be just like me.” No she shouldn’t, you never would have married her (or him). Understand those differences, don’t blame each other for it and learn to adjust or in Peter’s words, “live with them with understanding.’
Now let’s look at what happened because of this, here’s the fallout to this. “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this you are cursed more than all cattle, more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed, and he shall bruise your head, you shall bruise his heel.’ To the woman God said, ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow in your conception, in pain you shall bring forth children and your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.’ And to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree which I commanded you saying you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you shall eat of it, all the days of your life. But thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field, in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you are taken. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.’” A verdict is given by God for three individuals and there listed chronologically, Satan first because he started it, Eve second because she fell first and then Adam. When it comes to Adam and really God started with Adam back in verse 9, he says, notice the question, ‘Adam, where are you?’ Not, Adam and Eve, where are you? But ‘Adam where are you?’ Why? Because clearly Adam is the head of this unit, this family, he’s bearing the responsibility for his disobedience. Why is it that when God brings the verdict to Adam, it’s concerning his work? ‘You’re going to work with the sweat of your brown, thorns and thistles. I can’t be dogmatic on it but I do know that a man’s identity is usually bound up in what he does. That’s important to a guy, “Well, what do you do for a living?” is the question guys like to know about. Well, when it comes to a woman, so much of her identity is in being that mother, childbearing, conception; that the verdict falls in that area. The long and short of it is that through the pain of work, through the pain of childbirth, through the experiences of life and its hardship, all of that will remind us of the fall back here in Genesis 3.
Now look at verse 16 because I don’t have time really to exegete every single passage in the chapter but there’s a key here. Notice it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” That verse has caused commentators to write volumes. Many commentators will interpret what we just read in verse 16 as meaning, this is the normal strong sexual and psychological attraction that a woman has for her husband but her husband will rule the wife. Well, usually it is the man that has the strong, at least stronger, desire for sexual fulfillment. And number two, historically women have never loved the role of submission to a man. In every generation that I have ever researched, there has been this chafing of male authority. Movements that have been created of any kind of male authority when it comes to a woman. Now, to understand it, go back to Genesis chapter 1, we did this last week but there’s another verse we failed to read. Genesis chapter 1 is God’s original design. Verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sir, over the cattle, over all the earth, over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said to them.” Now I’m emphasizing that for a reason. He says to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth, subdue it. “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God said to them, “Subdue.” They were to be co-regents they were to multiply together. The were to rule together. They were to subdue and dominate the earth together. That was before the fall. Now in Genesis 3 sin has entered the picture and there is pain and there is sweat and there is a battle between the sexes. And I’ll tell you why, go back and look at our verse, verse 16 of chapter 3, see the word “rule”. “Your husband will rule over you,” it’s the Hebrew word mashal which means to reign, to dominate, to exercise dominion with power. It’s part of the curse. Once Adam and Eve were coregents over the Creation, Eve usurped headship, took of the fruit, ate it first, and as part of the curse will have male domination the rest of history. Now study your history and look at the traditional cultures of the world. Almost everywhere there has been, sometimes and uncanny, sense of male domination. Look at the Taliban today, look at Islam today, for example. That whole section of the world and go back throughout the cultures of history.
Now, let’s stay with our verse, look again in verse 16, it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband.” That word desire is very key, theshukah, there’s only one other time in the entire Pentateuch it is used and it’s used in the very next chapter, chapter 4, so we have a context for it. In chapter 4 Cain in his competition with his brother and kills him. Look at verse 7 of chapter 4, God says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door and its desire (theshukah) is for your but you should rule over it. It’s the same word and because the context is right there, it must mean the same thing. Here’s sin lying at the door, it’s desire is to rule over you, it’s desire is for you. And the word desire means to urge or seek control over. Let me play all this out, “Eve, this is how the verdict will be for you. You will have a desire to usurp control over your husband. But he will want to subdue you.” The battle of the sexes begins right here and it’s raged ever since, in feminism and in chauvinism. And so you have on one side feminists calling marriage and childhood domestic tyranny, that’s their new term, domestic tyranny. But you have on the other side, the male chauvinists seeing women’s rights as some conspiracy. And the battle continues. The fall in the Garden has brought a relational fallout which is a distortion of woman’s submission and a distortion of men’s authority. And that’s why next week we’re going to do a whole evening on submission one to another, submission to the Lord, before we even get into the roles of marriage.
Now, when we don’t recognize and embrace the differences between our spouses, and when we fail to understand the nature of this battle that has been going on since this point, there’s a lot of pain in a relationship. Which leads us to the final point, what is the future of relationships? Let’s consider that with Adam and Eve. Here they are, they fell, the verdict has been given to them by God, this is what they’re up against, pain, sweat, sorrow, battle between the sexes. What is the future? Well, go back to verse 7, “The eyes of both of them were opened, they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings and they head the sound of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden.” Now go over to verse 20, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed them. And the Lord God said, ‘Behold the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever, therefore the Lord God (this is so merciful) sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man and he placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden and a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the truth of life.” As I see it, and I’ll explain why, there’s two choices in the future of relationships: From this point on and for us tonight, it’s either separation or it’s redemption. Sin entered the picture, there was a fall, there was a division between man and God, between man and wife, the battle of the sexes began here; and man soon began a coverup program, literally, sewed fig leaves and tried to cover themselves, “We’re naked.” Now, so what? Why bring that up now, it never bothered you before. And that’s just the point: it never bothered them before. They never thought in that direction. They never really thought about themselves til now. Now they’re very self-conscious. And isn’t that the root of all problems in all relationships? Selfishness. What about me? Where do I fit in? How do I get gratified? They hid themselves, they were conscious. The other option is redemption. They sewed fig leaves, God took animal skins. And I’ll just say that here we have the first hint that blood must be shed to cover up man’s sin. It’s predictive of the Messiah coming, that’s what verse 15 is all about. It’s a prophecy that one day, the seed of the woman will produce someone that will crush the authority of Satan. The Messiah is promised here, redemption is promised. Is there an answer to the struggle between men and women? Yes, his name is Jesus Christ. And in Jesus Christ this curse can be erased. Women have been oppressed by the crushing of men who want to subdue them. And women have harassed men wanting to gain control and be on top. And what’s the answer? The answer is to come to Christ and be filled with the Spirit so that in a marriage there’s this beautiful blending together of willing submission, loving leadership, controlled by the Spirit of God. And when that happens, that home becomes in effect like the Garden of Eden before the fall, where you multiply together, you dominate the home together, you subdue your children together if need be, together. There’s a beautiful blending in that. That relationship can be different, instead of the constant bickering and tension. So, it’s not a perfect man marrying a perfect woman with a perfect courtship and a perfect wedding. For us now, it’s a redeemed man marrying a redeemed woman and acting redeemed in the home, because that life, those lives have been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ. They’ve been forgiven by God, they’re quick to forgive one another. Jesus humbled himself and became a man. So the man of the house humbles himself before the woman and says, “I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” Instead of, “Well I’m a Christian, I don’t need to say…” What? If you’re a Christian, humble yourself. If you’re a Christian woman, humble yourself. That’s a redeemed man marrying a redeemed woman and acting redeemed.
I want to close with something Billy Graham said. He said, “Dogs are quick to show their affection.” I though about my dog today as I read this. I said, “you know he’s right about that.” It convicted me. Let me finish it up, “Dogs are quick to show their affection, they never pout, they never bear a grudge, they never run away from home when mistreated. They never complain about their food. They never gripe about the way the house is kept. Dogs are chivalrous and courageous, they are ready to protect their mistress at the risk of their own lives. They love children and no matter how noisy and boisterous they are, the dog loves every minute of it. In fact, a dog is still competition for a husband. Perhaps,” he says, “if we husbands imitate a few of our dog’s virtues, life with our family would be more amiable.” Dwell with your wife with understanding. Husbands, I’m going to ask you the same question God asked Adam, “Adam, where are you?” Men, where are you? Where are you? Where are you in your home? “Well I’m waiting for her to tell me she’s sorry because it’s her fault. Well, maybe you helped push her over that edge. Why don’t you just get rid of all that and say, “Honey, I’m sorry. Honey, I love you. Honey, what can I do to make your life better?” Talk about a Mother’s Day gift.