Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage



The Scriptures I find relating specifically to marriage, divorce, and remarriage, in order as they occur in the Bible, are as follows:

Genesis 2:18
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

There has always been, from the very first, a natural sense that Man is incomplete by himself. While Man is spiritually complete as a being, there is something about God's design in Man that suggests the need for a counterpart.

In the very beginning, God said that it was not good for Man to be alone. God's creation in Man was not good by itself: by design, something was, "not good." At that time, this was the only thing about God's creation that was, "not good." God has not designed Man to thrive as an isolated creature. Generally, from a design perspective, Man requires another with him in order to be "good," to be complete, balanced, healthy, and finished. Man has a natural tendency to thrive only in the context of intimacy and mutual interdependency with another -- one other. This was so even before the Fall.

God envisioned, designed and created Woman for this purpose of complementing Man, of being this "one-other." God made Woman especially for Man: "I will make him an help" ("for" is grammatically implied). Her purpose in the temporal realm, by God's definition, is to be a helper for her husband. This is what she has been designed for and where she generally finds her deepest fulfillment.

God conceives of, describes and defines Woman as "an help meet for him:" or an helper for Man that is properly suited – "meet" – for him. God made Woman as an helper, an appropriate and fitting helper, uniquely suited to meeting the needs of Man, complimenting him in every way, and -- in a sense -- completing him. God did not create a community to satisfy this need in Man, nor another man: He created one woman – and He created marriage.

While Man and Woman are equal in value and worth, both being created in the image of God and by His own personal Hand, the two have manifestly different roles and positions in marriage. Man is not created for Woman, but Woman is created for Man. It is not Man's purpose to complete Woman, or to be her helper; it is Woman's purpose and place to complete Man, and to be an helper for him. These different roles are a matter of authority, accountability, and responsibility -- not a measure of value or worth. This is God's design and God's purpose, not Man's own device.

Genesis 2:19-22
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man

Most all who read this text find nothing in it relevant to the foundations of marriage. This is quite interesting... given the fact that this is the entire context of the very first marriage, the only marriage officiated in Person by the LORD GOD. This text describes what God does immediately after indicating that the Man's aloneness is not good. It is as if God is preparing Adam for marriage in this activity. Why would this entire context be completely irrelevant to an understanding of God's design in marriage? It certainly is not.

The obvious one-flesh principle in verse 23, and the relevant leaving and cleaving found in verse 24, are often presented as the first great principles of marriage. However, there is something profound in the context of the first meeting of Woman and Man that provides an essential perspective in the doctrine of marriage. It is overlooked, perhaps, simply because it is hated. It is the principle of precedence and authority: " the head of the Woman is the Man." (1 Cor 11:3)

As soon as God expresses Man's need for an helper and His intention to fulfill this need (vs 18), the LORD proceeds to create a special instance of each of the beasts and birds to present to Adam for his review. Adam is to evaluate each one to see if it is appropriate, "meet," to be his helper... for this is the context in which God is working with Adam. Adam is to name each creature and give it identity based on how he perceives its design and function, while accepting or rejecting it as his own suitable helper.

This process of evaluation and identity formation, performed over each member of animal kingdom, is evidently a reflection and an expression of Adam's authority over the created realm, naming the animals being a natural outflow of his dominion over them. However, during this activity he is evidently primarily thinking in the context of what his own helper should be like, what his helper should look like, musing upon an appropriate design for a suitable helper for himself. He learns much about her by looking at and evaluating God's design in Creation.

During this time of reflection and discernment Adam is enjoying a time of rich communion with his Maker... alone. He is the only human being... by design. God has not made Man and Woman simultaneously and independently, introducing them to their new world together, positioning them equivalently without distinction in role or authority. God has intended to make Man first and to grant him a wealth of experience before bringing his companion and helper into being.

In fact, God has already positioned Man within Creation as its lord and sovereign apart from the existence of Woman. God has created Man with intimacy, breathing His very own breath into Man to create a living soul. God has already given Man a personal name, Adam, and begun communing with and teaching him. Adam is God's first son, and the love of a Father for an only son is certainly expressed in a depth and purity that cannot be surpassed in intensity or wholesomeness. During this loving reception and intimate communion, God has taught Adam his immediate purpose, setting him in the garden of Eden to, "dress it and to keep it." (Gen 2:15) In doing so God has introduced Adam to his new home, the home in which this new helper will eventually live with him... though she is not yet present to see and experience it with him.

Further, God has engaged Adam intellectually, explaining to Adam the nature and purpose of the trees of the garden, revealing to him, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." (vs 16) God has also explicitly described the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to Adam, and has clearly expressed His requirement that Adam not ever eat of that particular tree: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (vs 17) This is the first commandment... and Adam is alone.

Adam has now perceived and understood the concepts of life and death, good and evil, and is about to partner with God in a wealth of exploration in the animal kingdom as they search together for this "help" God has defined for Adam. However, even at this point in his young life, Adam also knows what a tree is, and must have some context in which to value God's instruction to eat from trees, and to dress and keep the garden paradise. This development indicates that during this time of communion and discovery, Adam, as ruler of this virgin earth, has also been introduced to the nature and purpose of plants, growth, eating and digestion. He also has a sense of having to maintain and care for things that are subject to chaotic development... he is to cultivate and manage living things that are not intrinsically ordered as they grow.

Adam has thus been introduced to morality and aesthetics and science in a variety of ways, and all of these concepts are likely simply a representative sample of what Adam has already experienced and understood as God has introduced him to his new world.

It is reasonable to presume that Adam has in fact named all of the trees and plants of the garden, just as he will soon name all of the birds and the beasts when God presents them to him. Whatever Adam calls any living thing... it is. Perhaps God has even given Adam a global tour -- a bird's-eye perspective of what he is soon to govern, and has revealed to him much of the general workings of the ecosystem, the water cycle and the cosmos.

In addition, Adam has also understood that God has planted two special trees in the midst of the garden: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil... and the Tree of Life. These creatures are named by God Himself and are not subject to Adam's dominion, evidently the only beings beyond the authoritative scope of Adam. In the midst of all of this revelation, a loving Father is showing His son that there a spiritual nature in these special trees that is otherworldly; there is an intrinsic concept of some other type of life that is unique from Adam's present physical life. Adam is physically alive and unthreatened with disease and corruptibility... yet is presented with a tree with fruit to eat that has some type of additional life-giving affect. As the fruit of the other trees are designed to nourish and sustain him, there is also a fruit of another unique metaphysical kind. There is a life that is not merely physical, and a death that is supernatural. Adam is given a sense of another entire world, a spiritual universe beyond the physical universe in which God is also sovereign... it is a world in which some beings are in loving obedient unison with God ("life") and also beings which are alienated from and at enmity with Him ("death").

In His absolute Sovereignty in both the physical and metaphysical spheres, God also reveals to Adam that He has the right to command what He creates: an explicit boundary is established for Adam in the very center of the world in which he himself governs... a restriction is placed upon Adam in the midst of his earthy kingdom. The vastness of this entire revelation is indeed remarkable... and Woman is still, only a concept.

Woman has not been created for a reason. God has purposed to begin the human race with Man, not with Woman. He has chosen to stagger their introduction and to grant Man an initial exposure and awareness of the Creation in all of its fullness as an individual, as a sovereign lord in this newly created realm. God will not introduce Woman to this new world, but will bring her to the man. It is Man that will introduce Woman to Creation and teach her all about it, especially their Garden home, their purpose in dressing and keeping it and the nature of the supernatural trees within it. Adam will naturally become his wife's teacher, mentor, and protector. God is setting the stage for Adam and securing his place of dominance not only in the world... but also within his culture and family.

It is in this context, in an intimate solitary communion between God and Adam... as they observe together the workings and wonder of Creation, the ecosystem, the water cycle, the sun and moon and stars, all of the plants, insects, fish, birds and beasts... even the spiritual realm... that God reveals to Adam His intention to reveal an helper for him. They begin to consider the nature appropriate for such a helper... together.

It is perhaps already obvious to Adam during this process of exploration that each type of mammal has both a male and female counterpart. The male is generally stronger, the female is generally weaker. The male carries the seed and the female carries the eggs, conceives from copulation with the male, carries the offspring during gestation, gives birth, nurses and cares for the young. As Adam contemplates the nature of God's design and considers God's intention to reveal a companion for him to help him, he may easily begin to comprehend what his helper will look like, how she will function, and what her role will be.

As they explore together God fashions each type of mammal uniquely,  brings each created being to Adam and presents it to him for him to ponder and consider. God is not teaching Adam here, God is allowing Adam to creatively establish identity, working out in a tangible sense Man's authority, sovereignty and dominion over Creation. As Adam does contemplate each animal pair, one by one, Adam not only grants it identity according to an intelligent grasp of its design and nature, Adam also decides that each creature is unsuitable to be his helper. He is discerning, reasoning, evaluating... in partnership and communion with God. During this entire experience, it should come as no great surprise to Adam that none of the existing creatures match this ideal design of a helper for himself... Adam at some point perceives that God is yet to fashion her.

After exhausting all of the relevant possibilities in the created realm, certainly feeling God's emphasis of the uniqueness of this coming new creature, Adam waits before his Maker... and one might imagine what provoked and breathless anticipation of His last creative act would seethe in Adam's new bosom. Adam must know, as God tells Adam that He will take a part of him to fashion her and puts him to sleep, that this one soon coming will be perfect for him. When he sees her he will know where she came from and that his very flesh and bone were employed in her design and creation. God is making her from him and especially for him, and has set the stage for her introduction perfectly... exactly as He would have it to be.

God does make this last creature especially for Adam, actually taking her from Adam and forming her from part of him. As He engages in this last creative act, we have no revelation concerning any communication from God to this helper as she becomes conscious. Even so, it is not unreasonable to presume that vast love and acceptance is communicated to her from God, as she is His first daughter, and that she is aware of His delight in her. Perhaps she also experiences a revelation of why she was made and has an innate sense of her own purpose. In any case, she accompanies her Father in returning to Adam to be presented to him. She is certainly perfect, a work of tender art.

As she comes walking beside her Maker, her Father, she has no name... though she is His daughter, God has not yet given her a name... either as a type of being or as an individual. God has reserved this right for Man, just as He has all of the other animals that He has just brought to him.

This new creature evidently does not introduce herself as they meet, for she does yet not appear to know who or what she is exactly... she apparently has no formal identity apart from the reception and acceptance of Man. She apparently knows very little of the world into which she has been brought. The only thing certain is that God has made her for the purpose of being the helper of Man. Though she is certainly perfect in design, still -- as God has just brought all of the animals to Adam to see what he would call them -- God brings this special new creature to Adam for his review and subjects her to Man's discernment and approval.

This dynamic is extremely relevant to the nature of this first marriage. As this beautiful new creature stands before Man and awaits his response, she looks into his eyes and he into hers. As far as we know, she does not speak, but waits for him to speak. She does not initiate, but waits for and anticipates his initiative. She waits before him to be received or rejected, and has no choice in the matter. Whatever he speaks to her and of her in these first words to fall upon her virgin ears will define who she is, how she will relate to him and what her role in life will be.

Genesis 2:23
And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

It is reasonable to perceive that Man's initial expression is a joyful exclamation of acceptance; instantaneous and passionate: "This is NOW...!" His God has "outdone Himself" this time! Adam finally sees in this beautiful female being the perfect design he has been anticipating; Adam would naturally be awakened to a thankfully delightful passion in her presence. She is a person, a human being, just like himself, created by God, uniquely reflecting the God-given glory of Man. Adam receives this creature as one with himself, accepting authority over her and naming her, defining her identity just as he has all of the other creatures.

Adam apparently does not address the new creature first: he addresses her Maker. What Adam speaks he speaks to God about this creature as he defines her and receives her. Adam does not reject this creature as unsuitable for himself, as he has all other creatures prior to her, but he accepts her. She is perfectly designed to complete him, extinguishing his earthy loneness -- he fully accepts her and receives her from the One that made her for himself.

Uniquely this time, before God, Adam recognizes and defines a creature in relation to himself, differently than he has defined all other created beings. He knows that a part of his very own body is woven into very substance of this creature before him: there is literally a gap in the cage about his heart... a bone that protected his most vital organs is now woven throughout the frame of this new human being standing before him.

Adam is physically more vulnerable than he was before God's last creative act due to this member being taken from him to form her. However, this helper covers this new vulnerability with a softness and a strength as she stands beside him and warms to his embrace. With her at his side he is much stronger than he was before... but should she betray him he is also much more vulnerable since she is so close to him at his point of weakness.

There is evidently a dynamic woven into this relationship in the physical realm that well pictures God's design. It is a relationship of mutual trust and interdependency. It is clear that Man sees and acknowledges Woman's identity as part of his own, and that he intimately identifies her with himself. He pronounces what she is: she is Woman, precious to him above all other.

In this personal identification with himself, Adam receives Woman and acknowledges that she is above all of the other created beings, perfectly suited to work with him and for him in subduing the earth. She has dominion over creation as his representative, which is appropriate to her being his helper: she will act on his behalf and with his authority as she helps him.

This development is perfectly consistent with God's design, and He affirms both Man and Woman in His commissioning of them. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen 1:28) Thus Man and Woman both share in the work of bringing the earth under their control. They walk in mutual authority over the created realm, Woman being positioned as the assistant and helper, Man as the initiator and lord.

Woman apparently has no right to usurp an independent authority parallel to Man in their common purpose, but apparently draws her authority from Man's. God sees the identity and purpose of Woman so completely defined in this relationship that He calls them together simply... Adam. (Gen 5:22) As God refers to them it is "the man and his wife" rather than "the man and the woman ." (Gen 2:25) Man is evidently in authority over Woman, but she is now second in command, as no other is -- they will rule together.

As Adam receives this woman from God, he receives a daughter from a Father: God gives His only daughter to Adam to be his wife. They are not only husband and wife, they are brother and sister. There is an innate sense of trust implied here: Man is to receive this Woman as a gift from a Father, a Father Who loves his daughter and cherishes her deeply. Man is expected to love Woman as her Father does and take care of her; she is not an object or merely a piece of property for Man to dispose of as he pleases. Woman is infinitely precious to her Father and the Father's offer of her to Man suggests both a vulnerability and a trust that Man is to honor. She moves from the authority and protection of the Father to being under the authority and protection of her husband. Woman does officially become Man's wife in this transaction ("the man and his wife" Gen 2:25), and he becomes her husband. Thus we have the first marriage.

When Adam does receive Woman, he eventually also gives her a personal name to compliment his own, Eve (Gen 3:20), because she is to become a mother. Adam not only gives this new person at his side identity as a Woman to reflect her design, he also gives her identity as his wife, as a mother, in accordance with her role and function in his home, knowing that she will give birth to their children, nurture and raise them.

The two of them are now not only named after their kind, Man and Woman, but now they are both named uniquely as precious before God, unlike the animals, having unique identity before Him as Adam and Eve. God has identified and defined Man and named him Adam... and Adam has identified and named all else -- including Woman, Eve. The two are equal in worth, both being fathered by God, but very different in design, precedence, role, authority, and function. As God's headship and authority over Adam is expressed in His naming of him, Adam's headship and authority over Woman is expressed in his naming of her.

Genesis 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.

This is the third great principle taught in the Scripture concerning the nature of the marriage relationship as God designed it to be. A man is to leave his parents and make a home with his wife, cleaving unto her as though she is a part of his own being, an extension of his own flesh and bones. He is to make a formal break with the identity and structure of his parents' home and make a uniquely new home blended only from his life and the life of his wife, totally distinct from either of their childhood homes. The husband is not to be the only influence in this new home, but this home is to be a natural and unique blending of two souls and hearts into one. As a husband he is no longer an isolated person -- single, "alone," but part of a pair of people who are now one family unit.

The husband is instructed to leave his parents' home, but no mention is made of the wife doing so. We have here, already, the practical outworking of the headship of the man, even in the manner in which the principle is given. The husband's position in relation to his parents is addressed and expressed explicitly, emphasizing his role and responsibility; the wife's position with respect to her parents is not stated explicitly. Her position is understood as her husband's position is defined. It is understood that he is head of his home, that the wife is not in control of it, and that the husband is to function in this role without the oversight of either of his parents. While the husband may not necessarily leave his parents physically and place geographical distance between the newly defined households, he is to leave them as dependent on their authority for his guidance. He marries and becomes the head of an independent family unit formed from himself and his bride.

In this relationship the husband is to "cleave unto his wife," to hold tightly and closely to her in his spirit and heart, seeking to establish a deep and permanent oneness with her. He is to regularly initiate closeness in body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit with his wife, and she is to respond to him as they bond together.

A husband and wife should strive together for oneness in heart, mind and spirit, seeking for deep communion together in God, in emotion and will and worship, in the same manner in which they share physical oneness. The effort should be mutual, as the wife is the helper of her husband even in this; this is not the sole effort of Man. Both the husband and wife should see the importance and value of this fundamental experience, and they should each be committed to seeing this oneness and communion extended as far as possible into their lives together. The husband cannot do this on his own, though he must certainly be willing to take regular initiative in it. As his helper, even in this basic foundation in their lives, the wife should also actively initiate and encourage their mutual closeness and unity.

As one flesh the husband and wife are not to see themselves as either above or beneath the other in value, but they are to view themselves as one. Though there are differences in purpose and function, there is mutual interdependency and oneness and equality. This structure is not inherently inconsistent or the result of sin, but ideal... this is perfection. They are one flesh in marriage and are to cleave closely to one another... not contend for independent agendas: this marriage union, by design, will only work well if they are both walking according to God's pattern.

The husband is to accept the place of the guide and protector of his wife, as the head of his home and marriage, caring for his wife with all the diligence, tenderness, insight and compassion with which he cares for himself. This is the purpose of Man's authority... it is not given to him for selfish ends, but as a stabilizing and protecting influence in this most fundamental social structure: the family.

The family is to have order and structure: the husband is ultimately responsible for the decisions made within it and must oversee and lead his family. This is a ruling, an ordering, a structuring that brings peace and strength in a world that is subject to chaos and disorder. It is expressed in Man's very first words of Woman, to Woman, and in his initial relations with Woman. As he subdues the earth and brings beauty, peace and order to it through his dominion, it is essential that this same wholesome affect be seen in his family through his dominion within it.

As an earthly lord, Adam communes with Eve from the moment she is presented to him just as his heavenly Lord has communed with him, evidently discerning that his mate knows nothing of what has transpired before her creation, and realizing that he must do for her as God has done for him. He eventually takes her on a tour of the Garden, teaches her the nature of the garden paradise as well as the names of the plants and the animals, and carefully explains the vital restriction of the forbidden tree. It is uncertain how much time this takes and what all they experience together, but the potential is largely indefinite... this period could possibly have lasted for many years.

Adam has, by God's design, become his wife's mentor, teacher and protector... introducing her to her new world because he was there first and gave most all of it identity. He has had vast experiences with his God that she has not known, and he shares his understanding day by day with her as they become one in body, mind and spirit.

The whole arrangement and timing of their creation, as well as the express purpose of her creation, gives order to their marriage relationship. When God returns after the Fall to continue His communion with the newly wed couple, He calls to them by calling to Adam as a man, as the representative head of his home. Adam's precedence and prerogative and responsibility upon the earth is clear, and predates sin.

God would have us see and accept the precedence of Man in the order of created things. Man's precedence and position and prerogative in the divine order predates the Law, and even the Fall of Man. There is nothing "cultural" about its applicability today. It applies in society, in government, in the church, and in the home. It is a matter of authority and precedence and function. A feminist is, by definition in my opinion, one who does not understand, accept, obey and value this concept.

While the husband is evidently given a place of leadership and authority in relation with his wife, he is evidently in need of her as well. She is not merely a worker in his household, she is one flesh with him and he is to "cleave" to her. She is not merely a servant, she is a sister... they have a common Father... and in Him they have a covenant together, a mutual loyalty to each other and to a common Maker.

For Man to be alone was "not good." It was not good for him to be alone physically, emotionally or spiritually. Woman is a helper to Man in all of these areas, not merely in the physics of the marriage relationship and in the household chores. This implies that Man is to listen carefully to Woman, thoughtfully consider her  counsel and weigh her discernment earnestly. He is not to dismiss her or degrade her or ignore her simply because she is a woman. She is his wife... and this is wonderful.

In turn, the wife is to accept the place of a servant in her home, seeking to cooperate with and assist her husband in the daily affairs of their life together, being subject to his headship and authority, aware of his needs, his feelings, and his desires, and seeing that these needs are met alongside her own. She is to communicate with her husband honestly and respectfully and insightfully in her efforts to assist him in his work. She is to respond to him obediently and cooperatively as his helper, and represent his interests and seek his health and well-being as they both pursue the work that God has commissioned them as a team to pursue.

In this bond there is an intrinsic mutual trust, an interdependency, a mutual vulnerability. There is no room for selfishness, unilateral domination, fear, bitterness, discontent, enmity, or lust. They must learn to blend their precious differences as they grow together in their oneness. They are different from one another for a beautiful purpose: there is strength in their diversity when they are in unity of purpose and heart. Each should see the other's perspectives and needs as equivalent to their own, and seek to be aware of these as much they are aware of their own perspectives and needs. This implies regular, honest, open communication between the husband and wife, so that they maintain a deep sense of each other's well-being and of their healthy mutual interdependency.

This is the revelation of a principle of intimacy and oneness in the marriage relationship. This is how it has been from the beginning… how it is supposed to be even now. It is a picture, as many things are, of the eternals. God prepares for Himself a bride in the descendants of this Man and Woman. Their oneness is just a shadow of the communion He will share with this eternal bride.

Genesis 3:1a
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman...

At some point after this blissful beginning, however, we have the curse of the Fall. There is a subtle enemy at hand that seeks to destroy Man and this incredible unity that he has with Woman, a unity and oneness that grows stronger by the day. He approaches the Woman in order to deceive her and entice her to sin... apparently in the absence of her husband.

We are not told explicitly that the serpent approached Eve in her husband's absence. In fact, on a cursory reading, one sees farther on in the text that "she gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." We are not told how Adam was in fact "with her," but the two lovers could certainly have been together at the time the serpent made his initial move.

It is with very little real appreciation for the entire context, in my opinion, that the common notion may persist that Adam was present and passive during this first sin, that he stood by in dumbfounded curiosity as Satan gently reached for spiritual the throat of his wife.. and took her down. Books are written presuming this as fact (The Silence of Adam).

Personally, I find it wildly absurd to presume that a sinless Adam, having just been given dominion over the whole earth, the undisputed master of every created thing, and entrusted with a new bride ... whom he dearly and passionately loved, and whom he had just carefully warned of this particular danger, would have stood silently by as an insidious enemy approached his wife to deceive and destroy her. The only kind of man that would do such a thing -- who even could do such a thing as this -- is commonly treated by sinners as sickly demented, despicably cowardly and/or unfathomably irresponsible. This passivity is dark insanity ... if anything is insane.

In addition, it is also startling to think that anyone would presume an insidious and crafty enemy, given a single chance to present poisonous deception from an innocuous and appealing posture, would do so in the presence of both the king and queen at once ... when he could easily find opportunity to divide them first and approach the one with the least authority and experience. A "divide and conquer" strategy is nearly a requirement when one is defending from a weaker position ... when one must rely upon deception and subtlety rather than on brute strength. This is evidently the starting position of the evil one, and he is no dunce.

There is, in fact, no warrant from the context whatsoever to believe that such blatant stupidity was characteristic of either Satan or Adam. To presume that such sickness completely permeated a sinless, alert, courageous, profoundly intelligent king... on his honeymoon ... is simply absurd. If anything should be presumed, it is that the silence of Adam implies his absence: he would have intervened promptly, wisely and aggressively in this encounter and protected his wife had he been present when Satan approached her. Satan was doubtlessly intelligently aware of this fact and was extremely careful in his initial assault upon them.

This is, I do admit for the feminist who insists, merely my opinion. Even so, I will presume it here with the same freedom others groundlessly take with the contrary. For a detailed analysis of the temptation itself, and how it exposes the capability and craft of the enemy, please see War With The Saints, particularly the section on Eve under Examples, located near the middle the work.

Genesis 3:1b-6a
1b Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the
    trees of the garden:
3   But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath
   said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4   And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be
   opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was
   pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took
   of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her;
   and he did eat.

Satan approaches the woman tactically as well as strategically: he comes when she peruses the garden delights alone, apart from her loving husband ... through her desire to please her husband. He speaks to her about them, not about her. This is Woman's strength, and the serpent turns it against her in his deception by approaching her apart from her husband and proposing that she benefit her husband and herself by turning against her God. He promises her, "ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil…"

Evidently, Adam has informed Eve of God's commandment to abstain from eating the fruit of this tree, and has expressed to her the dangerous consquences. Though she is able to recall the command and appears firm in her resolve to obey, even going beyond the command with a resolve to not even touch the tree, something begins to turn within her bosom at the deceptive suggestions of the serpent. She notices that the tree appears to be "good for food, and that it (is) pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise." She is musing, considering, contemplating the suggestion of the serpent and drawn into its possibilities. Perhaps she thinks how pleased her husband would be if she were to manage to improve their lives in this way. Her heart, as a helper to her husband, would move in her to please her husband in this. She wants to do something for him, for them, for their union together.

Fatally, not content to be what her Creator has intended her to be, wanting to be more for her husband, for herself, she steps outside the purpose and function of her design. She forgets that she is exactly suited to meet her husband's needs just as she is, without having the knowledge of good and evil, without them both being "as gods." She forgets that she also has a Creator to answer to, to live for, to walk with. In her focus on her husband, on her marriage, on their happiness together, she loses sight of her Father, of her real Husband, and turns from Him.

Her first failure is her inability to perceive that the serpent makes his proposition to her, and not to her husband, for a reason. She is not intended to be the leader in her home, to take initiative without his consent in matters that significantly affect their lives together. She should perceive that she needs her husband's insight and protection and should be moved to seek his leadership and counsel in this thing. Instead, she moves independently of him, separates herself from him, and dies in her spirit. As she dies spiritually in this act of disobedience she immediately becomes alienated from her Creator and from her husband.

Genesis 3:6b
...and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Her husband, as he returns to her, doubtless in helpless horror, suddenly finds his wife – his beautiful dear wife -- standing before him in utter alienation from him, unintentionally inviting him into spiritual death in order to be one with her again. Unwittingly, in leaving her God to please her husband, she abruptly becomes his deepest and most perilous temptation: only she could ever endanger Man so, for none other is so close to his heart.

Before he is able to recover from the stunning turn of events, she calls to him in her soft smoothness and speaks to him ("thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife" Gen 3:17), enticing him to eat. She wants to please him and to be happy with him forever, and longs for him to join her in this indulgence. She is undoubtedly strengthened in her purpose by the fact that she has not died physically … it is just as the serpent has said, yet is blind to the spiritual death which Adam perceives within her. Perhaps she pleads with her husband and reasons with him as he hesitates to join her. The man must either choose to be alone again, and let his beautiful new bride go to her ruin alone, or he will abandon both God and himself to join her in death.

Adam knows full well what Eve has done, and what has happened to her ("Adam was not deceived" 1 Tim 2:14). Instead of calling out to his Creator, and waiting on Him for wisdom and discernment in this tragedy, he listens to his wife until he cannot resist. He longs for what completes and satisfies him most deeply: his precious wife. In this desperate situation, Adam fails to recognize that he has an enemy that is too strong for him on his own, and that this enemy has approached him through his wife for a reason: his enemy perceived her to be a strategic weakness. Like his wife before him, rather than running to his Lord for help, he acts independently of his Head, taking matters into his own hands. Man deliberately chooses to die with Woman, turning from his Creator to be one again with the creature of his side and heart.

Genesis 3:7-8
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice 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 amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Soon we find the two lovers united together against their LORD, agreeing to clothe themselves and seek refuge from the penetrating gaze of their Creator, hiding breathlessly amongst the trees of the garden as He calls to the husband in the cool of the evening. God calls to Adam, as if He recognizes that something is amiss and does not yet know... as if this garden walk in the cool of the day has been their regular custom for some time and is now interrupted and unexpected. Though God knows exactly what has happened He calls to them as if He does not, wooing them to expose themselves and come to Him in repentance and confession, for help... even  now that they have deeply wronged Him. In His love He reaches out to them in their need, but all they feel toward Him now is fear, disdain, and anger. The love they had for Him is extinct: as they stoop beneath the green leafy boughs of the garden, for one brief moment together they lurk in deep unified hatred of their God; Man -- refusing to answer the divine call, Woman -- standing beside him and encouraging him to resist. Both of them are now dead to Him.

Genesis 3:10-13
10  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I
      was naked; and I hid myself.
11  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of
      the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she
      gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13  And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast
     done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Their carnal unity is soon broken... they are dead to each other, yet blind to even this. In His mercy, God finally approaches them directly and plainly confronts the husband about his sin, prompting him for a repentant confession. Man has sinned deliberately in order to please his wife, to please himself, to have what naturally completes him. He has sinned consciously, apart from deception, with a full awareness of what he was doing. Yet, as God begins to deal with him, he quickly turns on his wife and blames her for his sin.

Adam finds hardness and treachery within... he and his wife are no longer unified, they themselves are deeply divided. Instead of admitting and taking responsibility for his sin, he is hiding it and covering it up. (Job 31:3) Rather than maintaining a protective posture over his wife and remaining loyal to her he turns on her, exposes her, alienates himself from her, and accuses her to her Father and Maker... as the one entirely responsible for this profound and senseless tragedy. Adam is both angry and afraid... God's "thou shalt surely die" was spoken directly to him and still rings loudly in his bosom... he is not altogether ignorant of its eternal implication. Yet naked with his leafy covering in the presence of discerning, indignant omnipotence... Hatred and Selfishness have no friends. In truth, the terror of eternal damnation do not find a place within him to bring him to his knees and beg for mercy.

God acknowledges this accusation and turns to the wife to confront her. She in turn, betrayed by her husband and as evil as he, follows his example in covering her own sin and quickly diverts the blame towards the serpent. God deals with the serpent, and then returns to deal with the woman.

Genesis 3:16
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee

The curse placed upon the woman for her sin begins with a corruption of her feelings. She… the great feeler in the freshly born universe -- her gift is turned into a curse. She will be sorrowful in the consequences of sin among her loved ones, and irrationally sorrowful and discontent as a consequence of her own sin. The penetrating joy that she has known from completing her husband and being his helper is now broken and destroyed. Her greatest joy, that of seeing their mated oneness enfleshed in beautiful children, will now become her greatest sorrow. She is gutted of her ability to truly complete her husband because of this; it is a sorrow that will tend to sap what little strength her husband has instead of completing him: the strength of her design now becomes her ruin.

Now she will be sorrowful, profoundly and intensely sorrowful; she will bear children in pain and grief and sorrow -- and much more frequently than before. Eve's conception is greatly multiplied so that she will become pregnant much more often and deliver children in great discomfort and pain. This will serve to further distance her from her husband and both fear and resent his desire for physical intimacy.

In this sorrow, Adam will not be able to please Eve nor she him. Instead of completing and helping Adam as she ought, she will be focused on her own unhappiness. Seeking to alleviate her sorrow, she will begin manipulating him and trying to control him; he will lash back and in his rule he will tend to harshly dominate her.

Instead of beauty in their diversity now there is contention, discord, strife. Eve's desire is to Adam, she wants to please him, her desire is to him, longing for his attention and affection. She longs to be close to him… to please him, to hear that he loves her and admires her and wants her… but the trust between them has been deeply violated and broken. He no longer trusts her, he does not understand her and he resents the loss of their paradise walk together. Covering his own sin, he blames her for their struggle; she has betrayed their oneness in trying to please him. She turned from God to do so and she has failed profoundly -- and he forgets that he has betrayed his God in seeking her as well. He is now afraid and angry, threatened... he feels the need to control her, to manage her, to rule over her in an unhealthy way, reflecting his distrust and resentment of her, further alienating her and demeaning her. He will rule over her, and in his own selfishness he will often be less that gentle and reasonable about it.

As her head, Adam ruled over Eve in principle even before the fall… something further is implied... an indication of the tendency of the husband to resort to force in controlling his wife, violating the spirit of their one flesh union and betraying the trust of the covenant marriage God has ordained between them.

It seems implied in the text that this once proper benign headship of the husband will, twisted by depravity, now often result in unwarranted and wicked physical domination, a brutalizing "rule" if you will, as well as other forms of manipulative control. In describing her pending relationship with her husband, God frames the same texture of words with the woman that He will soon use to describe the pending, fatal, physical conflict between her sons: " Unto thee (Cain) shall be his (Abel's) desire, and thou (Cain) shalt rule over him (Abel)." (Genesis 4:7) What does this mean?

God uses the same expression to define Adam's relationship with Eve as He does to describe the fatal conflict between Cain and Abel. In this latter case, these same words convey the fervent interaction between the hearts of these brothers during a fatal incident. Cain would gain mastery over Abel by striking the first blows. Abel, unable to recover himself in the struggle, would apparently be reduced to pleading for his life at his brother's hand ("Unto thee (Cain) shall be his (Abel's) desire"). Cain would not listen to his brother's pleas for mercy, and Cain would continue to attack his brother until he was dead ("and thou (Cain) shalt rule over him (Abel)"). These are the very same words that God chooses to describe the relationship between Adam and Eve. It would not be inconsistent with the text if Adam eventually killed Eve in a similar way.

Fundamentally, we have some small hint that this marriage that Man and Woman have sacrificed all for -- even turning from the eternal Godhead for -- will become their greatest pain.

Genesis 3:17-19
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The husband's curse is upon his means of sustenance, upon his freedom from working for his food. As he has taken food that is not rightfully his to eat, so now he has forfeited his freedom to eat leisurely of all that grows for him to eat. As Man has listened to the enticement of his wife, deliberately turning from his Creator in order to please the creature, he will be frustrated with his wife and sorrowful along with her for the rest of his days.

God did not originally intend for Man to have to focus his energy and strength on providing sustenance for himself and his family: God had provided this freely that they might enjoy Himself and each other without strain, struggle or worry. Further, unlike the lower forms of life, physical intimacy was designed to bring Man and Woman regular pleasure and delight without the constant stress of pregnancy. But now that their hearts are hardened toward Him, and toward one another, such leisure and pleasure would only destroy them both. Man looses the privilege to eat at his leisure, to freely commune with his wife and children amidst the beauty of the garden paradise, to eat his daily fill of fruit with them at will. Now he shall not be able to please his wife -- just providing food for his family to eat will consume most of his strength and time.

God turns the ground cold and hard against Man… she will not now freely yield up food for him and his wife to eat. In the sorrow of his frustration and loss the rest of Adam's life will be spent working the earth in the struggle to eat, instead of cultivating the garden and eating freely of the fruit in it. Now the two of them must have clothing, now they must have shelter. Now Man must till and sow and weed and nourish and harvest and store and guard, fighting the elements, and his fellow creatures. Woman must cook and clean and sew and mend and tend to wounds and sickness and pain and disease. They need tools, they need medicine, they need understanding now -- just to stay alive; they need to try and fail and try and fail – learning what they can from trial and error -- just to survive.

They will tire from the dirty struggle of working to raise a family; they will grow lonely and cold toward one another in their sorrow. Man will not humble himself and repent of his sin, seeking to give up his stubborn enmity towards his Creator. He will continue to resent his wife for her temptation of him and blame her for their ills. She will nag and whine and complain about his provision for her and the uncertainty of their tomorrow. She will rob him of what little strength he has at the end of his day through her relentlessly irrational sorrow. He will become alienated and distant from her in his selfishness, blaming her for all their woes, becoming worn, impatient, resentful, bitter, violent.

In following after godliness, without her husband's direction, Woman found depravity. In turning from His God to keep his wife, Man lost them both. Their sorrow will be deep and lasting -- in all likelihood, eternal. We have no evidence that either of them ever did repent. Do not expect to find either of them in the heavenly kingdom.

It is truly good that they struggle now. Left to thrive in their hatred for God together, without struggling against the elements and one another, it would fare even worse for them and their descendents. In the hardness of their hearts and in the difficulty of their mere existence, some rare few among their descendants will return to the Lord. Thus the heavenly Husband's own eternal bride will be drawn painfully out of their darkness… into His marvelous light.

We have before us an ominous hint of what follows in this intimacy between two sinners, this intimacy and oneness revealed in the first principle of marriage. What shall happen to these two as they wallow in their sorrow together… in intimacy? each leeching the strength of the other with nothing to give in return? having only their enmity for God and their struggle to survive in common now? They need each other deeply, but want to please only themselves; they cannot be happy together or apart. Their home will be a delicate and unsteady balance of distrust, selfishness, and carnal desire. It may stand with time; it may very well not. It is yet a picture; God Himself prepares to struggle with His own earthly bride.

While there are many references to marriages in the following chapters of the Bible, and examples of both healthy and unhealthy ones, we wait until the giving of the law for a second direct instruction in the principles of the home.

Exodus 21:1-6
Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; an his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

After the giving of the Ten Commandments, this is the very first precept given in the Law. As such, it is very noteworthy in setting the tone and texture of the life of God as He has revealed Himself to His people. It introduces the life of God to a wife He has chosen for Himself: the nation of Israel.

In a straightforward expression of His will for His bride, this first principle of the law deals with the most intimate institutions of humanity: marriage, family, and slavery. It deals directly with the issue of slavery, and indirectly with the institutions of marriage and family when in the context of slavery. Marriage and slavery might appear to be quite similar… woven together here -- spoken of and entwined together… as with one breath.

This text indicates that the institution of slavery has an equal sanctity/weight in determining the integrity of a family as marriage does. Whichever structure is in place first chronologically is respected before the other. The slave can only take his wife with him out of slavery if he was married outside of slavery. Marriage within the context of slavery does not constitute a higher rule of ownership of a husband for a wife than the ownership implied in slavery of a master for a female servant. If the marriage occurs within the context of slavery the institution of slavery is respected at the expense of the marriage structure. The male slave wishing to have his freedom from the bonds of slavery must leave everything obtained within it in the possession of his master; including his own wife and children if he married while a slave.

This is a striking truth, given the nature of the marital bond expressed so richly in the Garden mists. What has become of this oneness between husband and wife? this unity of marriage?

The second principle given in the law is an extension of the first, and bluntly confirms this hinted entwining of marriage and slavery in a blatant sense; this next principle is the first of God's laws focused directly on the institution of marriage.

Exodus 21:7-9
And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her unto himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

To our great surprise, marriage has indeed become a matter, more or less, of slavery. God's economy respects the practice of a wife being bought and sold as a servant -- as a slave. In this practice a man buys a woman from her father and marries her, owning her as a servant; she is called his maidservant and her husband is called her master. She works for him, but is not required to do the same type of backbreaking work required of the male servants in the house. If the wife – the maidservant -- does not act in a way that is pleasing to her husband – her master -- and her husband-master does not want this maidservant-wife any longer, the master is to let someone else from Israel, preferably perhaps her father, redeem her... or buy this woman back from him; the husband-master is not allowed to sell his maidservant-wife to another nation if he finds that he does not like her.

This is simply... breathlessly astonishing! The marriage bond… the creating of one flesh from two, the cleaving, the helping, the beauty, the oneness… it is fouled beyond recognition in the mire of sin. What was a union of two eternal lovers now appears to be an unsteady contract between two sinners, broken in both depth and duration. What we taste in the Garden appears to be altogether lost, or it is indeed quite rare.

Besides the plain fact that marriage has potentially deteriorated into something relationally much different than initially designed, this text indicates that this relational difference has affected the permanency of the marriage relationship in a practical sense, and that this degeneracy is recognized, permitted, and received by God. While in no sense directly indicating God's approval or pleasure, this text clearly indicates that God permits the dissolution of a marriage for reasons of permanent displeasure on the part of the husband. Given that this seems drastic, that He would permit such a thing in light of His initial intent of marriage, it is also significantly striking… and instructive to note… what the LORD does not permit in this marital context.

As it was in the Garden even before the Fall, God's Law defines a structure and an order within the marital relationship. A wife is her husband's servant and answers to his authority; he decides what type of work she will do for him in their task of subduing the earth. In this, the husband is instructed to delegate work for her to do that considers her frame as the physically weaker vessel; he is not to command work of her that normally would be suited only for men, such as rigorous field labor.

While God respects the husband's ownership of his wife and acknowledges his right to command her, God does not allow the husband to rule over his wife in an unreasonably harsh manner. God recognizes the potential of depravity of Man's rule, as He mentioned in the Garden: "he shall rule over thee." God now places some clear boundaries and guidelines upon a husband's rule for the protection of the woman. The husband is still lord in his home and may order his wife's affairs, but he is clearly restricted in the type of work that he may require of her.

However, while the husband is limited in the type of work that he may require of his wife, he is not vulnerable to her persistent willful disobedience of him in what he does command of her; ultimately, he is not vulnerable to her at all in this should she persistently undermine him, fight against him, and refuse to obey him... a disposition that violates the spirit of her design and her marriage covenant with him. While God restricts the type of work that the husband may command of his wife, He does not insist that the husband remain with his wife throughout his life. If she does not please him, he may divorce her, put her away, and sell her to someone else.

In each case, be it the sin in either the husband or the wife, God is acknowledging the potential of depravity and responding accordingly with lawful protection of both spouses. He places bounds on the husband's rule and also permits the proper dissolution of a marriage should the husband be unable to function with his wife within these bounds. In doing so God leaves the final decision entirely in the hands of the head of the marriage relationship: the husband.

While the husband is permitted to put away his wife, and to sell her to whom he likes, he is restricted only in this: the husband is not permitted to sell his wife to someone outside the nation. The sanctity of the marriage relationship, which appears quite profoundly in Genesis, does not imply any requirement that a man retain a wife that has come into his lasting disfavor, and is seen to be of less importance than the retaining of a Jewish woman within the nation of Israel, or even giving a woman improperly strenuous work to do. While God is allowing divorce, He has given specific instructions to protect the well being of the woman and to retain her within the Jewish culture.

In this provision that the woman is to remain in Israel, it seems that the protection of the spiritual health of the woman is being considered somewhat; she is to be assured of some opportunity to continue in a godly climate within the nation. Such a climate was not generally expected to exist outside the nation when the Law was given. This protective principle, limited as it is, is to be respected as more important than the integrity of the marriage itself. While the dissolution of the marriage is permitted at the resolute discretion of the husband, the forcing of the woman into an ungodly culture is not permitted.

We also see that the husband is given liberty to divorce his wife and to remain in control of her so long as they are still married and he is not severely neglecting her. He is to decide when and if their divorce should take place, and even who her next husband will be, unless he chooses to sell her to someone as a simple servant or to let her father buy her back from him. The woman is not free to make this choice or to pursue her own desire, but remains under her husband's authority at all times.

Should a wife leave her husband on her own and become involved with another man without being properly divorced from her husband, as we shall see, she will be guilty of adultery and subject to the death penalty. The knowledge that the husband has such a power over his wife provides strong incentive for a wife to try to please her master and to yield to his control of her without giving herself to manipulating and defying him. By implication, it also sobers the husband if he ever thinks to sell his wife; if he eventually changes his mind she will be out of his control -- she will be under the permanent authority of another.

God gives instructions to the husband in all these things concerning marriage, without requiring him to respect the permanence of the marriage unity throughout his life. However, the text clearly indicates that pursuit of divorce indicates that the husband has failed in some profound way... he "had dealt deceitfully" with his wife. This is a clear indication that the husband is ultimately reponsible to discern whether a woman is a suitable wife before accepting her as his bride... in the same sense that Adam was given a free choice of Eve. He is not compelled to take one woman or another and is gravely responsible to pursue a proper choice and to remain committed to his choice.

Further detail in the text indicates that if the man buying a woman does so for the purpose of giving her to his son for a wife, she is to be treated like a daughter in his family. This apparently implies that if the son and his young wife do not get along very well, such that the daughter-in-law falls into the permanent displeasure of the son, the young woman is to be dealt with as any other of the father's daughters would be, and may be sold to someone else to be a wife/daughter in some other family within the nation. The same principles above appear to apply to this situation as well.

Exodus 21:10-11
If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

As if to emphasize the practical fact that the marriage relationship has deteriorated unspeakably from its original intent, we find God permitting much more than just the breaking of a marriage. It is shown plainly that if a married man decides to marry an additional woman, so that he will have more than one wife, he is permitted to do so provided he does not neglect his first wife the proper food, clothing, and sexual privileges appropriate in the normal duty of a marriage. That God would allow a man to have multiple wives, so long as he does not abusively neglect any of them, speaks loudly to God's recognition and acceptance of the decay of the marriage relationship in the context of the Fall. Again, let us carefully note what God does not permit.

While a man is permitted to marry many women, he is not permitted to severely neglect any of them. This requirement for the maintenance of proper provision for a wife in marriage is given, in the shadow of polygamy, to protect the woman from the temptation that naturally comes when a woman is being deeply defrauded, which might compel her to commit adultery herself, and therefore be destroyed for her own unfaithfulness to her husband. If the husband is not able/willing to provide adequate food, clothing, and sexual relations for a wife, in at least some minimal manner, he is to let her go out free -- the marriage relationship is legally and permanently disolved and she is to be allowed to leave – she is set free, without the husband being recompensed his initial expense of his purchase of her.

A woman being given freedom does not appear to imply that she is to remain single; she is "free" to remarry if she chooses to do so. The fact that the husband could sell his wife to another man within the nation proves her freedom to remarry after a divorce initiated by her husband, but this also implies that this freedom would also be appropriate if she were set free from her husband due to his neglect of her. There are no plain restrictions placed on her decision to re-marry, and the fact is apparent from the current text that she could become another man's wife if her husband divorced her. It is therefore apparently not considered adultery for a properly divorced woman to remarry.

Once being made subject to cruelty and/or neglect at the hands of abusive authority in her life, a woman is apparently set free to determine her own course. While she may certainly remain single and responsible for her own welfare, she need not remain so. She may choose to place herself under the authority of another man, she may choose to return to her father's house, and she may prefer to remain alone or part of an extended community. She obtains complete jurisdiction in determining her own welfare, something a common woman would not have. A free woman may wait patiently and cautiously for a man to earn her confidence in him that he will be a good and gentle husband to her.

To summarize, polygamy is thus clearly permitted and accommodated into a culture defined and ordered by God Himself. However, this is not permitted at the expense of the basic dignity of the wife. If a woman is being degraded and/or neglected in a significant manner in any of the three areas described, she is permitted to leave her husband and has the freedom to remarry someone else. This indicates that the divorce and remarriage of a woman into an appropriately caring home is to be permitted rather than the open degradation or neglect of a woman in the home when another woman is intimately involved in her husband's life.

The spirit of this principle implies that it is naturally extended to cover such cases even in a monogamous relationship, and this can be shown to be consistent with other provisions for the protection of the woman. It may be argued successfully that a woman severly neglected in the context of monogamy is protected by the same standard and is to be similarly set free from severe abuse or neglect. Again, in this context, freedom for the woman to remarry is implied in her going out free. She is no longer under the authority of her husband and can submit herself to another man if that is her pleasure.

This provision will certainly not be available as a license for a woman to be treacherously unfaithful to her husband at a whim, neither will it apply in cases where the husband is merely deeply insensitive to his wife and is less than liberal with her in providing her desires for whatever reason. The husband is in control of his behavior in this setting, and losing his wife under this condition is something that he can directly control if he so chooses. This provision will only be relevant in extreme cases where the husband is mercilessly and deliberately refusing to provide the basic necessities of life and health for his wife, or where a husband is being ridiculously neglectful, not in cases of family hardship or prolonged sickness, times of war and famine, etc.

It is also not evidently clear in this context how such cases of neglect are properly recognized, and how they are to be determined. Does the wife have the liberty to determine what is appropriate provision? Does she establish the limits that her husband is to attain? Is this a cultural standard to be determined by the appropriate families involved? Is it a legal standard to be overseen by proper authorities in the government and community at large? The text does not clearly indicate anything other than that the woman is to go out free.

As this state of "freedom" is a legal standing that is recognized in the general culture, and knowing that such freedom is not something grasped at but a state that is given to a servant in appropriate contexts, it would appear that a cultural or judicial determination is to be made by others familiar with the husband's neglect and that this standard is not arbitrarily set by the wife. This standard must be such that it can be plainly administered and such that it provides simple guidelines for the husband to follow that are within normal reason and propriety. Otherwise, the dynamics would be difficult or impossible to administer in a reasonable manner. The principle apparently applies only in cases of extreme neglect that could naturally be condemned unanimously and wholesomely by a righteous community.

This implies that the husband remains in control of the permanence of the relationship at all times, so long as he has a reasonable heart towards his wife. He understands what the requirements are for properly caring for his wife and they are well within his grasp should he choose to fulfill them. Under these conditions, only when the husband's heart becomes deeply hardened toward his wife will an outside authority break the marriage. Once his heart is hardened towards her, he is not allowed to abuse her; others may step in and judge appropriately, delivering the wife of her vulnerability towards her husband should he become violently abusive or cruelly neglectful of her.

While it is apparent in this text that the man is permitted to put his wife away if she does not please him, it is not apparent from this passage that God permits a woman to initiate a divorce from her husband so long as he is pleased for her to stay with him and will provide for her basic needs. She may only be granted the divorce if she is being severely neglected in food, raiment, or marital privileges. In this manner, the law binds the wife to her husband so long as he lives, even if he is unfaithful in his call to be one with her by marrying another woman. Only if the husband initiates the divorce, or severely neglects his wife, is a woman permitted to leave her husband and remarry. The law does not bind the husband in this manner; the husband is free to initiate the divorce of his wife if his wife does not please him and he wishes to permanently end their relationship. He is also free to marry more than one woman, and therefore is not required to remain sexually faithful to his wife as a condition of her faithfulness to him. The woman is not free in this sense, as will be seen: when she is sexually unfaithful to her husband she is destroyed.

This text, when looked at in its entirety, obviously rises in sharp discord with the loving intimacy upon which marriage is founded. Something dreadful has happened in between the giving of the first principles of marriage: it is, of course, the Fall.

The Fall has made the most beautiful of human relationships a potentially deadly bondage. The text speaks of slavery and marriage as entwined equivalents it seems. The woman is seen as a servant to a lord, a slave to a master. The husband is truly ruling over his wife, as God has said, and the husband is protected against the degrading of his wife's manipulations through the freedom he has to divorce her.

The wife is vulnerable to her husband and her desire is to him, just as God has said. She has lost her right to the security of a permanently loving relationship, and is not in control of the duration of her marriage to her husband. She may be reduced to continually be watching herself so as to please her husband as best she can if she wishes to remain in the marriage.

The husband, in his dominion in the home, in his own weakness, is tempted to remain aloof from the companion of his side, marring her ability to complete him and help him as he longs for her to. He is even prone to taking more than one wife, and splitting the smallness of what little heart he has inside among several love-starved, unhappy women. Such a man as would take more than one wife has likely lost all sense of the original purpose of the marriage bond, and now, in his sorrow, may often find his only fulfillment in the physics of the marriage bed.

This is not how it was meant to be from the beginning. God is dealing with fallen people, and His Law reflects this. The passage does not encourage a flippant attitude toward the dignity of marriage, but neither does it place the sanctity of marriage above the health of the people within it. We may summarize the concept as our Lord did the sabbath: Marriage was made for Man, and not Man for marriage.

Perhaps you are aghast at this simple commentary, flowing freely from walking directly through the Word of God from the beginning. Perhaps you feel as if it seeps from a stony heart that is completely out of touch with the God of the New Testament, and that I have more of an internal agenda in this than you can tolerate.

And what, my friend, is your agenda? Have I twisted or ignored any Scripture up to this point? Granted, I have not dealt with the New Testament – that will come soon enough. What I have done is to discard the trappings of our materialistic, humanistic... feministic culture, and have taken the Word of God at face value as best I can. The result is quite surprising, even to myself. I request that you bear with me as I continue, and meditate upon these texts for yourself. I trust that these thoughts are not merely my own, and that they will bear righteous fruit in our hearts.

Lest it be said that this second principle, permitting a man to divorce his wife under quite general conditions, placing him in utter control of his marriage, and making provision for the protection of a woman only under what we would now consider to be quite severe abuse, is of the Old Covenant and that it is not appropriate for use in the instruction of New Testament Christians in discerning good from evil, and right from wrong, in this matter of marriage and divorce -- please note that the New Testament encourages us to draw from the Old Testament Scriptures the principles of the Christian life, stating clearly that they are written for our learning in the ways and mind of God: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom 15:4) "All Scripture," even that of the Old Testament (actually, especially the Old Testament: the Old Testament is the primary reference here since the New Testament was not yet available or even understood as a distinct entity at the time this text was written), "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:16) While the laws of God are not binding upon us for the securing of our salvation, the mind of God is clearly revealed in all of the written Word, and all of it is to be respected as coming from His Heart and Mind for our instruction in righteousness.

Isn't it interesting that this false resentment-reasoning, of thinking that these principles are "Old Testament" and no longer relevant to us, does not surface in the establishing of the principle of intimacy and oneness in Genesis? Were you taken aback that I would begin in Genesis? and not in Matthew... or for that matter, in Acts? Not until you saw something that you did not like... and for some reason I expect few folks will like all that is being written here.

It is common for us to cherish Scripture in any place where it suits our pleasure, and yet to throw it out as inapplicable when we do not like it, saying that it is "Old Testament," or "cultural," or a "poor translation." These quips are not exhaustive, but are perhaps the three most common ways in which the Word of God is handled deceitfully today. Fear not, we will be in the New Testament eventually, and should find no discord there with any truth here. In the Greek and in the Hebrew, we find the same.

Those who will discard this teaching as irrelevant since it is Old Testament cast out the same principles from the New Testament with some other convenience. Yet, it is often the Scripture that we do not like that we need the most. We cannot grow in grace as we ought with such an attitude toward the Word of God. It is only when we face our differences with His Word and change our hearts to conform to it that we are strengthened by Him as we should be.

What this passage appears to teach is that the Fall has largely broken the ability of natural Man and Woman to live together in harmony. The damage is such that God openly permits the breaking of the marriage bond, even among the people of His choosing in holiness. The basic physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of human beings is to be respected above the inherent sanctity of marriage. Divorce is openly permitted where neither violation of the ownership of slavery, forcing a woman to do manly work, placing her into an ungodly culture, nor her endurance of severe neglect from her husband is permitted. A man is not required to remain subject to the ugly disposition of a woman that deeply displeases him, but he is allowed to put such a woman away from him without becoming subject to reproof or fear of loneliness, sexual deprivation and unhealthy solitude. A man is permitted to take another wife and live in peace with her without shame, fear, or guilt – he is even permitted to take several women if that is his desire, divorced or not.

While these provisions may tend toward alienation in the home, contradicting the essence of its original design, in the context of the Fall these liberties place a very real check on the tendency of each spouse to abuse the other: a check on the manipulative, rebellious, ill-tempered woman -- protecting her husband and children from her relentless contentions; and providing for the sovereign protection of a godly woman married to a man whom no reasonable person can please -- allowing such a husband to put away his godly wife so that she will not have to endure his permanent selfish displeasure for life, and allowing for appropriate sanctions against abusively neglectful husbands, which permit severely neglected women to leave in freedom from such harsh and unreasonable bondage. This next text extends our understanding of this principle.

Exodus 21:20-21
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

This text continues to demonstrate the respect in God's economy for the headship of a man in his home, defining how he is to be dealt with when he abuses his authority. God indicates that a man may at times use physical force, striking male and female servants, so long as in doing so the servant is not killed directly as a result of the brutality.

At first, this principle might also be applied to a man's treatment of his wife. The wife belongs to her husband as his property, his possession, and one might draw from this text that the husband has freedom to strike his wife physically, as this act would go unpunished by God's civil law.

First, the husband is certainly not being encouraged to use physical force here, as lack of open punishment of the husband for doing so obviously does not necessarily make this behavior proper. However, the use of physical punishment is apparently not formally condemned as recourse in domestic situations.

What the text does clearly imply is that a husband does not have the right to take the life of another in his household. If in the use of physical force the husband takes the life of another, he will also be put to death. The right to kill appears to belong solely to duly recognized governments. The reference to the servant being the "money" of the husband implies that this is a resource the husband has at his disposal, and is used as justification for the freedom to use force. If in the use of non-fatal force the husband is not able to satisfy himself in the management of a servant, the natural thing would be for him sell the servant to another.

It is true that the use of such physical correction and chastisement has been formally banned in all of western culture, rejected both legally and socially, but this is a relatively new phenomenon and appears to be based upon a human-rights-oriented world view. Two or more centuries ago it was accepted and quite common, and there is nothing in the Word of God to forbid a careful use of it (… "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back." Pr 26:3… "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil, so do stripes the inward parts of the belly." Pr 20:30)

While tyrannical and unreasonable authorities can obviously abuse such means, righteous men can also apparently use these means properly in the context of slavery. To pursue this further here would be an inappropriate digression. For our current purposes it is, however, plainly noted: even if a husband is abusive by modern standards, respect for the husband's reign in his home is evident from the text. The husband is not to be openly and explicitly punished by law, so long as the abuse is not directly fatal to his wife.

However, we must look a bit deeper here to discern what is appropriate behavior for a husband. It does appear that a husband has a legal right to use force... but is this necessarily appropriate and godly behavior? The text does not indicate this... in any sense. Permissibility does not necessarily imply godliness. It is instructive to note that there is not a single instance or hint anywhere in the Word of God that suggests a husband should use force of any type in his marital relationship... none whatsoever.

If one considers the original intent of the marriage relationship: it is a covenant between two equals. This is seen in the "one-flesh" principle given immediately in the context of the first marriage. A husband and wife are one flesh, not merely servant and master.

Further, a common Father has assigned the role of Woman to her and no formal authority has been given to Man to correct her or discipline her as a husband. There is an appearance of mutual vulnerability here, wherein each spouse must look to the Father to intervene when there is discord and strife rather than taking matters into their own hands. While this is apparently more obvious in the case of the wife, it is evidently also the condition of the husband: though he is a master he has no formal authority to enforce his will within his marriage if he wishes to retain it in tact. In dissolving it he becomes deceitful and treacherous... this is not a light thing.