And Thy Desire Shall Be For Thy Husband
In Genesis 3:16, God explains what happened as a result of Eve’s choice. He explains that in regard to Eve, there are now two problems: definition and disorder. God says because of what she did, things would now be different than they were before. Instead of being confident in her dominion of womanhood, having fulfillment in her divine purpose, she is now stripped of her confidence. Whereas she was once secure in her God-given identity as a counterpart to man standing in dominion facing him, now she would have a desire, a longing, a stretching out, and a searching for something. This longing or desire or stretching out after is unfulfilled by her husband. The word, husband in this verse is iysh (#376 in the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary pronounced eesh) not just referring to Adam as her husband, but her fellowman. In other words, this verse does not necessarily mean she will have a longing for a man or for her husband, but she will have a longing for identification, role definition or position, with an individual or with mankind in general because she is now naked and ashamed. She is no longer confident in who God created her to be in her bare and naked form. It does not mean she will now desire her husband as a member of the opposite sex and remain unfulfilled, but rather she will now desire identification, intimacy, definition, and purpose to define who she really is. And if it takes sex to get identification and purpose, she will do that or whatever it takes in order to get her physical, mental, and emotional needs met for belonging – just like the girls we call hootchies.
When I was in college, we studied philosopher, Abraham Maslow, who describes the needs of human beings. These needs range from the need for safety and security, to belonging-ness, and other levels all the way up to what Maslow called the need for self-actualization, the highest most sophisticated form of need in Maslow’s opinion. Self-actualization is the point we get to in life when we say, “Wow! I’m satisfied fully with who I am.” It is said by scholars that most people never reach self-actualization.
I believe the Scripture in Genesis 3:16 describes the desires that a woman has for meaning and purpose (not only in relationship to her husband but also to mankind). It is the desire to be fulfilled in every area of her life. I believe that God was explaining that to the woman because this is the state in which she has placed herself. It is the same thing that I think Maslow tries to describe in his theory on the hierarchy of human needs.[i] God declares that the woman’s desire would be for her husband, and he shall have rule over her. In my opinion, this means that the mutual understanding and harmonious agreement that the man and the woman once had was now filled with conflict, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, physical and emotional stress and pain – in other words, issues! Because the two of them: the man and the woman only knew good before, but now they know both good and evil together, which would only bring about conflict. The disharmony created by the introduction of sin in the life of the woman would include physical pain and emotional sorrow in child-bearing and childbirth as well. Add to that the “issues” of conflicting self-esteem, worth, and belonging-ness, lunging out after mankind, and what do you have? Discord! Both in the relationship she had with her husband and the relationship she would have with mankind.
Mind you, not only was Adam her husband, he was also the only man alive. He was mankind. That meant the discord not only extended to how Eve would view Adam and relate to him as her husband, but also the discord would extend to how she would view him as mankind! Therefore, the ‘desire’ that God spoke of did not refer to a woman’s feelings of emotional gratification, desire or stretching out after a husband, though it could very well impact those things. Clearly God was speaking beyond the context of having a husband because not all women are wives and mothers, and neither do they want to be all wives and mothers; and that is perfectly okay.
But what God was saying to Eve, was that she as a woman, now has to live with the lie that she believed from the enemy about her image and identity made in the likeness of God. The same lie that got her thinking that she was not like God, was now the lie she has to live with because that’s what she was deceived to believe. She now had what she believed about herself. Why? Because she was given dominion over what she believed and that is how she chose to use her dominion. She would struggle now with the truth that declared she was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Creator. Now she is a prisoner to the lie that she is not what God said she was. All she has to compare herself with standing there in front of her is a man and now that’s the standard by which she is identifying herself, not with God, but man. So she’s searching out man, stretching out after trying to find definition, and that definition is not in sex. Though as one might imagine, this thinking does have great impact upon every thought she has. I believe after the fall, sex for her started in her mind, in other words, even stretching out after Adam to help her to even feel good about herself again, after what she had done. She was stuck with her own thoughts of doubt about who she was created to be. It was not God’s best for her, but it was what she had ordained through her own dominion.
I submit to you that after Eve sinned, she went into a state of fear and devastation over her actions. Why do I say this? First, they hid after they committed the sin. People only hide when they are afraid or feel inferior. Secondly, in regard to Eve, after God had dealt with her sin, the next thing in the Bible that records Eve’s words were related to her disposition. Let’s examine that.
After they sinned and were sent out of the Garden, Adam and Eve began to have children. The Bible records that Eve says in Genesis 4:1, “I’ve gotten a man from the Lord.” Notice, she didn’t say, “I now have a son or a baby boy.” She says “man” as in fellowman. You would think that if God called you “mother of all living,” you would connect to that purpose. You might say, “OMG, I now have a son from God!” or “Wow, we have a baby boy!” But no, Eve didn’t say that. I believe even then Eve was yearning, searching, grabbing and stretching out after definition and purpose in her fellow man. Why? Because Eve says, “I’ve gotten a man from the Lord,” not a son or a baby boy. This is just as God had said would happen in Genesis 3:16, “and your desire shall be for your husband,…”
What does this say about the importance of yourself being rooted and grounded in what God says about you? How does this speak to you about purpose and definition struggles women may deal with today?
Lesson 12 – Pondering Questions, continued
Textbook: Spiritual Identity by Dr. Merle Ray
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[i] Maslow, Abraham H. Motivation and Personality. 1954. Ed. Cynthia McReynolds. 3rd ed. New York: Harper and Row, Inc., 1987.