Disordered Relationships

Where did it all go wrong?

As a teenager (and from well before that) no one ever wants to follow their parents’ direction – the grumpy teenager is expected. But ‘why?’ Why do we not delight to obey our parents? Why do their decades of wisdom not earn them submission? Why is their instruction so unwelcome?

Why does a child disobey? Why does a dog bite? Why do siblings squabble? Why do couples divorce?

14 So the Lord God said to the snake, ‘Because you have done this,

‘Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.’

16 To the woman he said,

‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labour you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.’

Genesis 3

The root of our problem is found in the initial human disobedience – when we refused to live according to God’s given order. We sought to supplant Him as ruler and set ourselves in charge.

But God’s words of judgment and consequence echo through the generations.

It is in these words that we find the root of the battle of the sexes. If we had never rejected God’s authority, then we would never have fought among ourselves. But as we’ve overthrown His authority, we are always seeking to advance our own position.

Whether it’s the domineering of a powerful spouse or the passive aggressive argument of the one who appears down-trodden, we fight for position. We want our way; we want our preference fulfilled.

It is here at the beginning and ever since within ourselves that we have been at war. As God says to the woman – “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The perfect and peaceful balance of the sexes is corrupted into competition.

In the same way we see this worked out in the dysfunction of our mandate to rule over the world. Instead of loving kindness, we dominate and demand. We compete to survive and so the next chapter tells of the first murder, as brother turns against brother.

Putting it into Practice

  1. Consider the ways in which you compete for your own way. It may be subtle and manipulative or open and obnoxious. Acknowledge that this comes from selfishness and admit your fault before God.
  2. Look for ways you can serve others. Look for opportunities to behave differently, to overcome your own natural inclination and lay down your own priorities for the sake of others.