What happens if your spouse desires something that God forbids? In an attempt to maintain relational peace, you might feel pressured to conform, but you are inviting more long-term conflict in your relationship with God and one another.
Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God seemed like a sudden move, but it was a gradual shift. Even before Satan’s temptation, human curiosity coupled with devilish enticement was ramping up. While enjoying what God had given them, they were most likely wondering about what God was keeping from them, and the enemy was eager to entice them with false advertisements.
You can notice the shift in the narrative. The compromise climbed to the point of disobedience. The subtle change went from doubting God’s Word to exaggerating His expectations to defying His commands. What was the final step? As God gathered Adam and Eve together after they rebelled, His critique of Adam is extremely telling.
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”Genesis 3:17
At first glance, God’s statement does not assist the heavenly public relationships department one bit. His pushback against Adam’s activity seems rooted in the fact that he listened to his wife’s words. Even the bluntest chauvinists would duck and cover by saying such a statement. While some cultures at different times may accept God’s comments easier than others, the apparent description would be understandably problematic in most scenarios.
That’s where you must learn to read what the Bible is saying and not assume what you think it implies. God’s rebuke of Adam’s decisions was not what you think it was. Reread it. The issue was foundationally more with whom Adam ignored rather than obeyed. He prioritized the voice of his wife over the voice of his God. He repositioned God’s Word to a lesser position.
God didn’t have a problem with Adam listening to his wife’s voice, but prioritizing that voice over His was the couple’s downfall. He listened to Eve’s request while ignoring God’s command. And therein lies the problem. God is not saying that Eve didn’t have noteworthy things to say. Scripture is full of evidence of God esteeming and empowering women. This situation is not because the woman was talking and the man was listening. It was due to the fact that God commanded this family, and both disregarded it. For the one who heard God’s command first, he put it second. Adam put Eve in God’s spot. She didn’t have the right to be there, and Adam didn’t have the right to dethrone God for his wife.
How does that example impact your marriage? Hopefully, you see a similar temptation. Sin in marriage happens whenever someone chooses to do what a spouse requests over what God requires. You put a good relationship in God’s spot, and you have now created an unhealthy relationship. This repositioning has welcomed rebellion and conflict. Such a transition makes discord unavoidable.
To have a healthy marriage, you must prioritize God’s Word even over your spouse’s wishes. If God says to travel right, and your spouse is heading left, you will have to make a decision that keeps you obedient while attempting to stay unified. When you choose His path, you are still beckoning your spouse to follow along with you. If you simply decide to do what your spouse wants even if it breaks commandments, you have distanced yourself from God and complicated yourself from your spouse. While you might think you just set yourself up for marital success, you have invited dysfunction to reign by placing your spouse in a spot he or she cannot cover.
If you sense your spouse drifting toward sin, you cannot surrender. Appeasing wicked wishes to keep the peace will only usher in complete chaos. If your spouse wants something that God forbids, for God’s glory and your spouse’s good, you must refrain. Use patient and wise counsel to help your spouse see that God’s ways are always superior to ours. If you stand in the way of something your spouse wants, you might incur the wrath temporarily, but it is better than enabling your spouse to arouse God’s opposition.
When you feel the pressure to conform to your spouse’s wishes that conflict with God’s commands, you cannot surrender. For the good of your marriage, you must keep God first.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.