The Grace & Truth Blog

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Gen 3:16; “Your desire shall be for your husband”

On January 16, we preached through Genesis 3.  (Unfortunately, we had technical difficulties with that recording and we’re unable to post the sermon.)  In that message and in our community groups that week, many of us discussed the results of the fall and the implications to the serpent, the woman and the man.

If I can summarize, many of us concluded that “Your desire shall be for your husband” spoke to a woman’s desire to rule over her husband.  The word for could also be translated against.  And yes, we could all see that a woman’s desire to rule over her husband would be consistent with a sinful fall and the tumultuous consequences that can follow.  There is much for us to learn from an interpretation of the verse in this manner.  Good discussions, good conclusions, hopefully, good applications followed.

I recently read a very good article on this verse in a blog written by Wendy Alsup.  (Men, get past the name of the blog…this is Practical Theology for All…not just women).  I would encourage you to read and think about her interpretation of the verse.  I’m not saying that our earlier conclusions were wrong, but I see a lot of truth in this article, written by a woman to other women.  Her main conclusion is summarized in these excerpts:

The word for “desire” in Genesis 3:16 can mean craving or longing.  The issue is best understood if we make the simple substitution of God for her husband.  Her desire SHOULD BE for her God.  Instead, her desire/craving/longing is misplaced.  The curse is not that women want to dominate the men in their lives.  Women’s problem is that they worship the men in their lives and look to them for affirmation and provision emotionally and spiritually for things that God alone is supposed to provide.  Their problem is IDOLATRY.

We are not going to really understand how the gospel equips us reclaim God’s image in us as His daughters until we understand clearly what our problem is.  I can’t emphasize strongly enough that the problem in women created by the fall is deeper than control and domination.  It may play out that way in some women, but it doesn’t play out that way in all women.  There certainly is a battle between the sexes as a result of the fall, but it is often one-sided.  For every controlling, manipulative, take-charge woman (who tends to be out there in front of us all), there are 5 pathetic doormats (hidden in the shadowy corners of life) waiting desperately for crumbs from porno guy’s table.  They’ll do whatever it takes—perform demeaning sexual acts, sacrifice the hearts of their children to an abuser, and other unimaginable acts of desperation—like a prisoner chained in a cell lapping water that spills out the toilet because he’s dying of thirst.  This insatiable craving is an issue of worship and idolatry.  Apart from Christ, our tendency after the fall is to set up men as being able to meet needs in us that only God can meet, and there is no limit to how desperate we can become.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts; even if you disagree.  Whether you believe that the verse should be interpreted as “your desire will be to rule over your husband” OR “your desire will be to idolize your husband”, we can agree that both acts are sinful.  As a man and husband, I’m convicted and reminded of my need to follow hard after God.  I would also want my wife to love God more than she does me.  May we all find our greatest satisfaction in God and may we find our greatest contentment in submitting to His loving and always-right sovereignty.