Post Title: Broken Image Patterns
The biblical ideal of marital intimacy is one of a man and a woman in a deep interpersonal relationship as equal and independent partners who, in love, covenant with and submit themselves to one another in the fear of the Lord.
That was the Creator's design and intent. But something went very wrong—sin entered the scene in the form of iniquity. The word iniquity comes from a root that means to bend, twist, distort; in a sense, it means self-centeredness. Iniquity bends and twists and distorts the word and will of God. Iniquity led Adam and Eve to supersede the will of God in selfishness, pride, and rebellion. As a result, they fell from his intended shalom, from completeness and intimacy with him; they came under a curse.
Childbearing, the gift in which she partakes of the very creative power of God now becomes something that is hampered because of iniquity. I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children (Genesis 3:16).
To the man God says, cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you ... (Gen 3:17-18). In other words, the very thing God gave Adam to do—to exercise godly dominion—now becomes the source of frustration and anxiety.
Some teach that in Genesis 3 we have the divine pattern for relationships between men and women; I do not. Rather, I believe it portrays the corrupting influences of iniquity that result in dysfunction rather than a God-intended function. The dysfunction often manifests in ways described in these texts.
Notice the second half of Genesis 3:16, Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. The woman's intrinsic nature is to respond to, but due to her separation from God, she tends to become a clinging creature, attempting to find her identity, not in the Creator who made her, but in the husband she has taken. It is a compulsive clinging, a seeking to find her identity and make her way in the world through men.
The woman's dysfunctional desire has profound psychological implications for her that are rectified in the Kingdom of God.
What Eve wanted from Adam was a mate, but as a result of iniquity, what she got was a master. She wanted a lover, but he wanted to be her lord. Why? Because the Fall's effect on the masculine is to take this God-given tendency to exercise dominion and push it beyond all bounds, to twist and distort it into a drive for dominance, to accomplish, to succeed.
In the man, rather than finding his sense of shalom and identity in fellowship with the Creator, he tends to find it in creations, in the toil and sweat of his brow. There is this drive within the masculine to be king of the mountain. We want to be known for what we have done. We tend to want to dominate. That is the broken and bent masculine nature.
Even in the name of religion, we will quote scriptures like Ephesians 5:24 to justify subjecting the women to our wishes, to be the head of the wife in a way that Paul never intended. Both the masculine and feminine natures were corrupted and distorted by the Fall.
Again, what is at work in you and me is the desire for our identity to be found in the creature rather than in the Creator. This pattern of brokenness and bentness goes back to creation. The fact is this, if we don't bow down before the Creator, we will bend down to creation.
I have to say to you, in all honesty, I am a sinner when it comes to this. I have experienced this very painfully and personally, and only by the grace of God have I come to understand the forces at work in my life.
I could not give up this ministry because it meant too much to my identity, to my sense of spiritual pride. Coming to Jerusalem and speaking to a lovely audience like you is much more glamorous than being home with a wife who says, "The car needs an oil change, and the grass needs mowing." It is incredibly tempting for Ministers to find their sense of self-esteem in ministering to others and receiving positive emotional feedback.
Yet, it is spiritual idolatry. Sadly, I see it at work in so many ministries in America. One sign of it is an overly masculinized type of ministry. The men are aggressive in the way they preach. They stalk about the stage screaming as if the anointing is measured in decibels, laying hands on people who fall over. It is all an exercise of dominance.
Not surprisingly, those churches are filled with women who haven't found meaning in their relationships at home. Instead, they find meaning in their spiritual connection with their pastor, which, unless guarded against, can lead to inappropriate physical relationships. Because they are broken, these women look for their identity in the preacher rather than God. And in his brokenness, he is getting his sense of identity, pride, and self-esteem by being the pastor of a huge church and lording it over people. Even in the name of God.
Please don't misunderstand me. I know the dynamics at work, and I know those who have been victimized by it do not have a clue. They are not consciously doing this; they are not bad people. They are broken sinners like you and me.
We each need to receive God's revelation and understand that it is idolatry for a man or woman to find their identity in anything other than Him. We must own the truth that if you do not bow down to the Creator, you are being bent down to other creatures or other creations.
In Messiah Jesus, you are complete. He is the Prince of Peace, and in him alone you have shalom. We will never know what it means to be a wife fully and a husband fully until we find our bentness straightened out by God. Then, and only then, can I relate authentically as a leader in my home, and my wife can relate authentically as one who voluntarily adapts herself in love to me for the glory of the King.
Want to go deeper? Click here to explore audio seminars by Dwight A. Pryor.
Interested in taking one of our dynamic online courses? Click here.
This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.