Marriage Under Imperfect Conditions
1. What had God meant marriage to bring to man and to accomplish?
MARRIAGE has been put under much stress and strain by imperfection. Imperfection is due to sin. Sin is unrighteousness, disobedience to the perfect laws of Jehovah God. The marriage of Adam and Eve in Eden was a perfect one because it was performed by Jehovah God, all of whose activities are perfect, all of whose ways are justice. (Deut. 32:4, NW) The taking of a rib from Adam and along with it the female characteristics that were originally in him did not make him unhappy. God’s presentation of these things back to him in the form of a perfect woman for his wife ushered him into a happiness he had never known before. His wedding day in Eden was a most happy one. The marriage that it inaugurated was meant to be a continuously happy one and was to lead to the unspeakable happiness of being fruitful and bringing forth perfect children of their kind. God himself who had united them would be happy at all this, for thus his purpose in creating the earth would be fulfilled, to have it “inhabited.”—Gen. 1:26-28; Isa. 45:18.
2. (a) What interrupted the complete happiness of the first human pair? (b) How had Adam taught his wife, and by doing what would he show his love for God and her?
2 What, then, interrupted the complete happiness of human marriage and brought it under imperfect conditions? First of all, it was a failure to recognize the right relations that God had set up between the husband and the wife and their refusal to hold to those relations. Adam and Eve belonged to each other, just as a head and a body belong to each other. “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1 Tim. 2:13, NW) Adam taught Eve. He toured her around the paradise garden of Eden with which he was fully acquainted. He told her the names that he had given to the animals. Most important of all, he told her how to live forever in this paradise of pleasure as the mother of a perfect human family by telling her the special commandment of Jehovah God. This was something special, preceding the instructions that God gave to both of them regarding the food for all creatures. (Gen. 1:28-30) As stated to Adam alone, God’s special command was: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:16, 17, NW) This command now applied also to Eve, for she was a part of him; she was one flesh with him. Even as he had taught her this divine command, it was his responsibility as head over her to enforce this life-protecting law. If he loved her he would enforce this law, because to do so would be also to love himself. She was part of his own bones and flesh, and naturally he would not hate his own bones and flesh. By this law enforcement Adam would specially love their precious Life-giver, Jehovah God, whom they were to love more than themselves or each other.
3. (a) What was Eve’s course until a lawbreaker presented himself to her? (b) What did Satan do to accomplish what purpose?
3 For a time Eve submitted to the headship of her husband. She did not question the punishment for the breaking of God’s law. She did not think her husband had been deceived by what God said as to the breaking of his law. She did not think that she ought to decide or lay down the rule as to what was good and what was bad. She was a real helper to Adam and fitted perfectly into his life and found safety and happiness in doing so. Then a lawbreaker, a marriage-disturber, presented himself to her while she was by herself. By means of a serpent in the garden of Eden he asked her for information. She told him what her husband had told her. Then the serpent, or the unseen one speaking by the serpent, did not here resort to any gossip by idly talking trivialities or by repeating a lie. He did what Jesus Christ said he did. He directly lied, and made himself the father of all lies. (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3) Right off he contradicted what Adam had told Eve and what God had first told Adam. “The serpent said to the woman: ‘You positively will not die.’” Then, pretending to know the actual facts about that forbidden tree, he continued: “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen. 3:1-5, NW) The real purpose of the Serpent, Satan the Devil, in opposing and slandering God this way was to begin breaking up the marriage union between Jehovah God and his organization wife, his “woman,” that is to say, his universal organization of holy creatures, to which Adam and Eve then belonged.
4. (a) How should Eve have responded, but whose word did she take in preference to whose? (b) Why was Eve’s a case of marriage insubordination, and what prompted her?
4 Did Eve, out of regard for her marriage relationship, now reply: ‘What right have you to contradict the word of my husband, and what right have you to contradict the word of his God who gave me to him? Shall I subject myself to you, a mere beast, instead of to my husband, my God-appointed head?’ No! Nor was it a case of Eve’s taking the word and law of God in preference to the word of her husband. Here it was a case of taking the serpent’s word in preference to the word of her husband in harmony with the word of Jehovah. Here were two witnesses, Jehovah himself and Adam, against the one false witness, the great Serpent. In safe respect for her human head Eve should have said that she would first consult her husband and see whether he approved of eating the forbidden fruit contrary to God’s command, for he knew God better than she did. Rather than look for her husband and go over God’s law with him, Eve looked at the forbidden fruit from the new viewpoint presented to her by a beast. She let desire for it form in her. Her desire led her into temptation, and induced her to take action and thus sin was conceived. This conception of sin was bound to give birth to the death penalty. (Jas. 1:14, 15) “So she began taking of its fruit and eating it.” (Gen. 3:6, NW) She ran ahead of her husband and put her own intelligence above that of her head, her husband. She was grossly deceived, but just the same it was a case of marriage insubordination.
5. What immediate effect did Eve’s eating of the fruit not have, but instead what effect did it have?
5 Eve ate the forbidden fruit in outright disrespect of God as her heavenly Sovereign and of her husband as her head. The Bible account does not say that at once her conscience smote her and she realized that she was stark naked, making her feel panicky and want to hide from the opposite sex, from her husband. Proverbs 9:17, 18 (RS) tells us: “‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol [mankind’s common grave].” So, totally deceived, not scared of the death penalty, and knowing no sexual shame but tasting the temporary sweetness of the fruit she had stolen from the forbidden tree and had eaten in secret from her husband, Eve self-conceitedly went and offered some of the forbidden fruit to Adam. Now what should he do?
6. What theocratic law, later stated, shows the course Adam should have taken, and why is this so?
6 Adam at once knew that Eve had been deceived by the serpent and had sinned. God’s Word says: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14, NW) Eve did not speak or act for him her head. The head was to decide and Adam must either approve of her sin by joining her knowingly, willingly, in eating the stolen fruit or disavow her act and stop it immediately from becoming the practice in his household. Jehovah’s theocratic law, later stated to the nation of Israel, agreed with this, declaring: “In case a woman should make a vow to Jehovah or she does bind herself with a vow of abstinence . . . if she should at all happen to belong to a husband and her vow should be upon her or the thoughtless promise of her lips that she has bound upon her soul, and her husband has heard it and has kept silent toward her on the day of his hearing it, then her vows must stand or her abstinence vows that she has bound upon her soul should stand. But if her husband on the day of hearing it should forbid her, then he has annulled her vow that was upon her or the thoughtless promise of her lips that she bound upon her soul, and Jehovah will forgive her.” (Num. 30:3, 6-8, NW) So Adam could have reproved Eve and let God be true and the Serpent the Devil a liar, thus vindicating himself as no party to her breaking of God’s law. God had appointed him head. He should have respected God’s appointment and resisted Eve’s acting as head in making decisions.
BAD CONSEQUENCES FROM MARRIAGE DELINQUENCIES
7. Had Adam refused the fruit Eve offered what would he have shown? and by accepting it what did he show?
7 Had Adam loved himself, loving life for himself and his offspring, he would have refused to accept forbidden fruit at his wife’s hand. He would have shown her the right course by refusing, for she was his own flesh. Had he loved God more than himself, including his wife, he would have turned down her offer and kept God’s command. He would rather part with his wife than part with his God. Acting the role of a real husband, he would have respected his own divinely appointed headship and made the right decision for himself and his house. He would have shown strength and measured up to his responsibility and kept his integrity toward God. But Adam looked not toward God. He looked at his wife who was holding out the fruit to him. Now a desire for her, not as a helper and complement to carry out God’s procreation mandate but as a means of satisfying his flesh, formed in him. He was enticed by it. Giving more mind or attention to it than to the pleasure of obeying God’s command, he weakened. He disowned, rejected his own headship as husband. He listened to his wife’s voice, not God’s. He accepted the forbidden fruit and put it to his mouth.
8, 9. What was the result of Adam’s preferring his wife to God? And how did they answer to God?
8 He stuck to his wife, yes, in wrong, but parted company with his God and Father. Undeceived, he willfully joined the Serpent Satan the Devil in rebelling against God. Without describing the mental battle or the emotions that were called forth, the Bible simply says: “Afterward she gave some also to her husband when with her and he began eating it.” Now both had sinned, but Adam’s sin was the greater sin because he was more responsible. No more could they look at each other in a pure, natural way. “Then the eyes of both of them became opened and they began to realize that they were naked. Hence they sewed fig leaves together and made loin-coverings for themselves.”—Gen. 3:6, 7, NW.
9 Between the man and his wife a barrier had now formed, even though represented only by fig leaves sewed together. Not feeling clean-looking before his wife, Adam could not feel clean-looking before his God. He no longer felt comfortable in communing with God; in place of eagerly looking forward to it, he now fled from it. So when they heard the approach of God’s invisible presence Adam as well as Eve hid behind trees. God called for him, not for his wife. Adam told God he did not feel presentable before him. Well, then, why? Had Adam eaten of the forbidden fruit? Well, not directly from the tree, but he had eaten from his wife’s hand in order to please his wife. Why, then, had the woman been the one to eat right from the forbidden tree? The woman now admitted that she had not acted so smart. She said: “The serpent deceived me and so I ate.” (Gen. 3:8-13, NW) She never thought the aftereffect would be like this.
10. (a) What marriage would Satan not be able to break up, and why? (b) What did God decree for Satan and his seed?
10 So God turned to the great Serpent Satan the Devil, who had now put the marriage of Adam and Eve under great difficulty. But if the Serpent Satan the Devil for one moment thought that he could break up the marriage between Jehovah God and his “woman,” his heavenly universal organization under his only-begotten Son, he was absolutely mistaken. Cursing Satan the Devil to a low-down existence that would feed on mere dust, Jehovah God the Great Husband mentioned his own “woman.” He decreed for his woman a course of action different from the one Eve took, saying: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:14, 15, NW) His heavenly organizational wife would stick to him in love but would hate the Deceiver, the Serpent, Satan the Devil. Her offspring or children would resist the Serpent’s deceitful offspring or seed. The injury that her offspring would give the great Serpent would be worse than the injury the Serpent would give her offspring, which would result in a temporary limp. It would be in a more vital spot and would leave the Serpent’s head crushed in, with destruction to all his seed. God’s organizational wife or “woman” would to all eternity have fruit to show that would bear the name of her Husband, Jehovah.
11. What did God predict for human marriage from then on, and why would woman’s position be especially difficult?
11 Jehovah now predicted that human marriage would from then on have its difficulties and married couples would have “tribulation in their flesh.” The woman’s position in the marriage arrangement would be specially difficult, and what Jehovah said about it in Eden has not proved untrue after six thousand years of experience. “To the woman he said: ‘I shall greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in birth pangs you will bring forth children, and your longing will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.’” (Gen. 3:16, NW) The husband’s domination of the woman was not a mere allowance of him to dominate if he wanted to or if she was willing to submit to it. His domination of her was as sure to operate as the increase in the pain of her pregnancy was to come and she was to bring forth children in birth pangs. Despite all this she would long to have a husband. She would consider it an embarrassment, a reproach, not to have a husband. She would look upon it as a frustration, a defeating of the purpose of her sex, if she were not to have children, a disappointment to herself and a disappointment to her husband. Let him be owner, dominator. Only give her marriage with children.
12. Trying to please his wife brought what results upon Adam?
12 How humiliating it must have been to the appointed head of the married couple when God began his death sentence upon Adam by saying: “Because you listened to your wife’s voice.” Yes, it was all because of this. He listened to the creature instead of the Creator, who commanded him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. In the effort to please his wife with the hope of not losing her, Adam the husband did something that brought consequences that were not pleasing to her. So he was certain to fall in her estimation and respect. His lack of wisdom showed up in the results. He lost for her the paradise home. He lost his position as an approved son of God to plead with God for her and gain some consideration for her, deceived woman that she was. He left her with no sufficient protection against the further deceptions and the attempted misrule of Satan the Devil. If she did not die first, he might himself die and leave her a widow, without a husband. With him she was driven out of the garden of Eden to die disowned of God.—Gen. 3:17-24, NW.
13, 14. Why could their life outside of Eden not have been a happy one, and what was responsible for this?
13 God’s Word tells us very little of the married life of Adam and Eve outside the paradise garden of Eden. It was not a happy life, that is sure. As each one looked at the other and recalled the respective part that each had played in bringing about this sad result, neither one could be happy in the other. Adam had now lost his perfect self-control. It was first outside of Eden that he had sex relations with his wife. It was no happy occasion when he saw her writhing in her birth pangs to bring out their first child, a son. This boy, Cain, turned out to be a murderer, a killer of his own brother, an assassinator of the first human witness of Jehovah, faithful Abel. Cain came under the curse of the God of whom Abel was a witness. He was marked for execution, for destruction by no one but God himself. His married life with one of his sisters in the land of Fugitiveness was not a happy one.—Gen. 4:1-17; 1 John 3:12; Heb. 11:2, 4; 12:1.
14 Adam and Eve lived long enough to see increasing bad fruitage from their imperfect married life. The marital estate of none of their offspring turned out to be completely blissful. What was responsible for all this? In the first place, the failing of the first man and his wife to love God unitedly and more than each other. Along with lack of love for God and as a result of it, each one failed to respect the God-assigned places of husband and wife in the marriage arrangement and to live up to the responsibilities and the obligations of that place. Adam, as the head, was foremost in responsibility for all this. Pointing to him as chiefly responsible for all the sinfulness and death that have come to us who have been born as a result of their damaged marriage, the Word of God the Judge says: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned— . . . death ruled as king from Adam down.” (Rom. 5:12-14, NW) So the injury caused by the mismanagement of the marriage arrangement originally set up by God can be very far-reaching and disastrous.
15. (a) What can be said about Jehovah’s own marriage? (b) What was Jehovah’s purpose regarding mankind’s marriage, and what did he do in token thereof in the days of Noah?
15 Jehovah God’s own marriage to his organizational wife, his universal organization in heaven, has continued unbroken and in happiness, and has been most fruitful, in spite of all that the malicious marriage-disturber has tried to do against it. The seed of Jehovah’s woman has been brought forth and soon will crush the Serpent’s head and see that justice is done to the universal sovereignty of the Most High God. In harmony with his own marital happiness Jehovah God originally purposed that the married life of his faithful sons and servants here on earth should also be a pleasurable experience, with no “tribulation in their flesh” that must now unavoidably come because of the imperfection of each and every married couple and because they are living in a worldly system of things the god of which is Satan the Devil. (1 Cor. 7:28, NW) In token of this, in the days of Noah Jehovah God cleared out all the married couples who were a part of the corrupt, violent “world of that time” by sinking them under a mountain-high global flood for a whole solar year. In those days “men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark.” But God spared alive through the flood only four married couples, all of whom were witnesses of Jehovah, namely, Noah and his wife, and their three sons, each married to one wife.—Luke 17:26, 27, NW.
16. (a) What were the immediate postflood circumstances as regards marriage? (b) What blessing did God bestow on those survivors, and what has this meant until now?
16 The preflood world was entirely gone when these four married couples stepped out of the ark on Mount Ararat to start life anew on the cleansed earth. The circumstances were then almost like those when Adam and Eve were inside Eden. All the earth outside was without human inhabitants, for which reason God blessed them and gave them a command to bring forth children and fill the earth with them. Apart from the four couples on Mount Ararat human creatures were to be found nowhere else on earth. So in support of his original purpose for the earth God blessed those surviving four married couples, after they had revived the worship of Jehovah God on the dried land. “And God went on to bless Noah and his sons and to say to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth. . . . And as for you men, be fruitful and become many, make the earth swarm with you and become many in it.’” (Gen. 9:1-7, NW) That meant the making of many marriages during the thousands of years till now. Today, as a result, the earth swarms with people, and marriages continue to multiply. Under the growing imperfection of the married couples and the conditions under which they live this has led to many complex marital problems. How can these be handled in a way that pleases Jehovah God and that will result to the lasting happiness of those involved in marriage? How these are being handled in the New World society will be explained at length in forthcoming issues of The Watchtower.