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Understanding the Core of Conflict in Marriage (Part 1)
July 23, 2022
Understanding the Core of Conflict in Marriage
Question 1: 
How do we as Christians answer questions to which we probably have strong, pre-existing, opinions about -- opinions shaped more by tradition and culture than study of the Word?  In this case, about the nature of men, women, husbands, and wives in the context of Christian Marriage?

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

  1. When we read this, what are the “things” referred to?  
  2. It can mean lots of things, but we know that they are considered “foolishness”
  3. We know that those who do receive them discern whatever those things are “spiritually” -- not through fleshly knowledge
  4. We know that, one of the things we can be certain of to receive from God when asked is Wisdom (James 1:5)
  5. So in this regard, I would argue that wisdom would include understanding God’s will for an institution He holds in highest regard and, in fact, God intends to express the Gospel.
  6. But that wisdom will be contending with that part of our thinking or our emotions that still belong to “natural man’ which I believe, for the Christian, is the “old man” (Romans 6:6)

This is a long-winded but necessary way to say the following:
It is quite possible that a reading of the text on the nature of man and woman, particularly their sin, will butt-heads with your convention and the culture.

Question 2:
Do you believe that, while men and women are of equal worth (Romans 10:12 -- in this case Jew and Gentile are the same, but Paul spreads the equal value across all people), they are also differences in their roles, their strengths, their expectations, and their sinfulness?
  1. If God says that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), is that simply a statement of loneliness?  
  2. I would argue it’s not, because God also says he will make a suitable helper for him (Genesis 2:18). 
  3. Yet, why do you, me, or anyone need a helper?  It’s because the person is missing total self-sufficiency.  They need the help that can be offered by another person.
  4. So, if the woman offers something that shores up a weakness in the man, it stands to reason she is also different.
  5. But if we accept that she’s also different, can we accept that she’s different not only in good ways, but in bad ways as well?
Our basis at this point seem to be to accept that there is difference, despite equal value.  And if there’s difference, this leads us to Question 3:
Doesn’t it make sense to deeply understand the source and nature of this difference?
  1. Even if you hold on still that men and women are exactly the same in all things, what do you gain from that worldview if you’re wrong?
  2. What if the fundamental core of conflict lies not in your rightness or her wrongness or vice-versa, but that there’s essential, foundational, God-created differences of the nature of sin?
  3. Do you benefit from trying to “believe” it away with the culturally-accepted view?
  4. On the other hand, perhaps we’re wrong, and we posit that there are, in fact differences, and they resonate with some actual truth.  Then certainly you still benefit from understanding the root cause, even if it only applies to your marriage and your marriage only.
  5. If what we say has zero resonance and zero applicability, then, you can seek some other source and continue to base that in your original world-view, which is that everyone is alike.

For purposes of this argument, which you are free to disagree after holding your disagreement in suspension just for a bit, is that there is, in fact, a deeper understanding of human nature.  And I believe this takes us back to point #1: that understanding comes from God’s word and our ability to, through the Spirit, discern the truth.
Quick recap, this is a big set-up and I’m going to probably continue to refine this and repeat this because it’s so essential and, disturbingly, many don’t buy this line of thinking so I rather start with first principles.
  1. The full counsel of God is spiritual, foolishness to the flesh, and discerning of all things;
  2. Man and women are equally valued to God, but different in their roles, responsibilities, and sinfulness;
  3. Understanding the core of every marriage benefits you because it allows you to go more deeply into the nature of our different design.

Question 4:
What meaning and application, if any, can we find in how the serpent deceived Eve and Adam in the Garden; and in how God cursed the first fallen marriage?
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,b she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6)

Question 5: 
Does the fact that the serpent deceived Eve first mean anything?  Specifically, that she was easier to deceive than Man and, therefore, this continues now for all Daughters of Eve?
  1. God says the serpent was more crafty than any other would a characteristic of being crafty mean the serpent is most likely to pick the path of least resistance?  
  2. Therefore, can we hold at least lightly that, to properly develop a marriage we acknowledge and defend against such deception?  And that perhaps in regards to this particular sin and deception, men are a stronger defense and therefore lean on man as a defense?  (Note: don’t worry, men have their gender-specific sin as well)
  3. it worth knowing the means of this deception?
  4. The serpent attacked by introducing doubt
  5. Eve first repeats God’s command: she knows what is the right answer
  6. However, the serpent picks a specific response: “you will be like God.”
  7. This is the temptation -- and it succeeds....
  8. So the modern listener may say, “no woman wants to be like God...”
  9. “knowing good and evil” -- this is how the serpent tempts
  10. So let’s pause on this and ask, “What would a modern representation of being like a God and knowing good and evil” be like?
  11. Judgment.  Knowing someone’s motive.  

Here is where zooming out and exegeting society and your relationships based on Scripture comes into play.  The challenge is it does border on pop psychology and quasi-science and personal observations.  But....I did look at one book by psychologists into the nature of men and female behavior in marriages...and they are definitely secular.

But they described a phenomenon where the woman, in the relationship with the man, does one or more of the following:

  1. Critical -- meaning they judge their husbands
  2. Unspoken expectations -- so it’s judging someone for not knowing what 

1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7

Genesis 3:1-6