Recently a young man shared that he wanted to get married. He was a Christian for some time and did not have a steady job or income. I asked him, “Why he wanted to marry?”. His answer was: “My mother is getting old. She is unable to do all her household chores, so she needs a daughter-in-law to work with her.” Obviously, I replied, “What about having a servant?” “We have to pay for a servant.” Then, I replied, “You need unpaid servant for your home?” This is a typical mindset of people, especially in India. The misconception of wife as ‘servant’, ‘slave’, ‘sex toy’ and ‘sub-ordinate’ is dominant thinking of people. But it is not biblical thinking. By learning about the first couple, it is possible to understand God’s plan for family and principles that govern family life of a Christian.
Wife is a partner
God knew that Adam was alone and needed a ‘help-mate’. The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)
So, wife is not a slave or servant but a partner with husband to build the family. The couple is to partners in spiritual, moral, mental, social and family life. Together they have to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, build a godly family, and give priority to the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) She is not a baby producing machine or manual labourer.
God provides the right partner
Adam was put to deep sleep for the Lord. Searching for right partner is good but seeking the Lord for good partner is even better. For God took the initiative to provide Eve for Adam. That means, God is interested in marriage and ordains the right partner for each person. While Adam was asleep, God was at work. When a person prays for the right partner, God prepares the right person and connects in an amazing way.
Wife is an equal partner
In the creation of Eve, God uses the rib of Adam as raw material. She was not created from the head of Adam so that she dominates or rules over him. Nor she was created from Adam’s legs or feet that she becomes her slave and spend all her life in servitude. Instead, she was created from the rib, showing that she is equal partner in the family.
Leave and Cleave to partner
God’s commandment was given to man and not woman. In Indian context, the wife is commanded to forget her household and cleave to the family of husband. But, the Bible says that the man has to forget his parents or detached from his parents. Detachment need not be physical but certainly emotional. For a man, after marriage, mother is not his priority, but his wife. There are men who have not detached their umbilical chord even as adult. They strive to please mother by harassing or hating their wives.
Become one flesh
Marriage is union of a man and a woman as one body, which is sacred, mystical and mysterious ordained by God. This institution is beyond description, very complex but simple and profound in real life experience. As one flesh, man seeks to nourish and cherish his wife and so does she to her husband. So, domestic violence is self-destructive suicidal act. Depriving the other of marital rights and other needs is grave injustice to oneself.
Be of one mind
As one flesh, they are expected to be of one mind. That means to understand one another and take joint decisions. The decisions should be God honouring, bringing glory to His name and witness to others. But, sadly the first couple took a decision that was rebellious, disobedient and foolish decision. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3: 1-7)
There is no indication in this passage that Eve was alone. Adam was there but did not take part in the conversation. He consented to a foolish decision, when he could have given the right perspective. So, it was a joint decision but a wrong decision. Major decision making should be done with God’s word as reference and not diluted version of His Word that may tally with the cultural values.
Both are equally accountable
God confronted the first couple when they sinned. In this, Adam tried to shift the blame while Eve confessed his sin. Adam blamed Eve and even blamed God for giving Eve as his wife. Instead of accepting responsibility for his failure to stop Eve from eating the fruit, he used Eve as ‘scape goat’. This is the same pass time for husbands through out generations to blame their wives for any family misfortune. In contrast, Eve accepted her foolishness that she was deceived by cunning Satan. She was honest enough to admit her mistake.
God punished both of them as representatives of whole humanity.
The biblical principles for governing the family are contrary to popular culture. It is essential for Christians in India to follow biblical values and create a new role model families as challenge for other families.