Sin is the ultimate destroyer of relationships. Not only does it make people do stupid and irresponsible things, but it distracts us from our purpose, dilutes the bond God created in marriage, and causes untold damage to families.
But if we live out the Ephesians 5 model for marriage—if husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church (v. 25), and if wives submit to their husbands as they submit to the Lord (v. 22)—we begin to disable our basic sin natures.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve did not commit the same sin. The way each sinned reveals to us the different sin natures of men and women.
Satan tempted Eve in the form of a serpent. God had told Adam and Eve they could eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This particular tree was off-limits, but it made Eve curious. Satan tapped into this curiosity with lies.
“God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,” the serpent told Eve, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4). Eve ate the fruit. Then she convinced Adam to do the same. Both disobeyed God.
Though Adam was with Eve in the Garden, Eve never took the time to ask his opinion, nor did she wait to ask God about it. She made this monumental decision on her own—and it forever changed her relationship with both Adam and with God.
Eve’s sin was one of prideful independence. She wanted to be in charge and to know as much as God. That dynamic is still alive today. A woman’s basic sin nature is to usurp authority, to take the reins and put helself in charge—even when she knows it’s wrong.
That’s what got Eve in trouble in the Garden, and it’s what gets families in trouble today.
What about Adam? He was likely somewhere close to Eve as she decided to disobey, yet he didn’t make any attempt to stop her. Then, when she offered the fruit to him, he gave in without a fight. Submissively, he relinquished the responsibility God had given him.
Adam’s sin was one of passivity, and it’s one that still plagues men today. God has charged men to lead their homes, to provide, protect, and initiate. Men are tasked with guiding the family, overseeing their financial security, shepherding their kids, and nurturing their wives.
Men aren’t to dominate their wives and children, but should be steering them toward holiness and godly living. But too often, men become passive. They don’t embrace their leadership role. The sin of man is to let others take charge.
I’ve counseled many couples whose marriage problems began when they let this kind of role reversal into their homes. These sins feed off each other.
But when a man follows the Ephesians 5 model, he leads his family and loves them as he should. When a woman follows this model, she respects her husband’s authority, encourages and respects him, and doesn’t tempt him to give that role away.
When one member of the marriage obeys God’s plan for marriage, it helps the other. That’s how the Ephesians 5 model helps disable the sin nature.