We recently celebrated Christmas – the day that Christ was born as a human. He was God and Messiah, but He descended into a human body. When He was born, he was created by the Holy Spirit within a woman, Mary. Mary could see that she was bearing a baby, even though she was not married and that she had never had any physical relationship with any man – including no physical relationship with the one she was engaged to – Joseph.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:
When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together
she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph saw Mary pregnant and he thought she had sex with someone else. So he decided not to marry her. But then an angel came and told him that Mary had conceived her child by the Holy Spirit of God. So he saw that he was to wait until that child was born and then he would marry her.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So when Jesus Christ was born, He was not a sinner as we are. We are all sinners throughout life, but Christ never sinned a single time. One of the reasons He was not a sinner is that He was not born of a man within a woman, but of the Holy Spirit inside the woman, Mary. Because He was born only through a woman, not a man and woman, Jesus Christ was not a human-sinner like us.
The purpose of this story about Jesus’ birth is that it contributes to our understanding of husband and wife roles in marriage. The idea is that husbands and wives are to understand God’s design for their roles, and they are to obey God’s design even if these things are difficult to do. One meaning of this biblical point about Jesus’ birth is that a male-husband is designed by God as a leader. And he is to take initiative in marriage. What helps us to see that situation is the story of Adam and Eve.
Adam was created by God in Genesis 2, and he was not a sinner. But God told him that he should not sin by eating a specific fruit on a tree. So Adam taught Eve about the fruit once she had been created, but later on Satan came to Eve. Satan came to her as an animal and said to Eve that she ought to eat that fruit. So she did, and Adam did not prevent her from doing it.
So when both Adam and Eve had eaten that fruit, they were both sinners and they each received problems within their bodies and within the world. What we see is that, even though Eve was the one who first ate the fruit, it was Adam who was judged over it by God, not Eve.
In Genesis 3:9, God called on Adam, not Eve, even though Eve had first eaten the fruit. So Adam was the one judged by God even though Eve was the first sinner. What this says to us is that Adam was designed by God as the leader, and he was assigned to receive judgment if he would not take initiative toward his wife.
There are two Bible passages that help us to see this idea – that a man is accountable before God as God’s leader, not the wife. In Romans 5:12-21, Adam was the one mentioned as the cause of sin to all humans. In 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Adam was the one mentioned as the cause of sin to all humans.
Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned — for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
Since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
These verses talk about more than just the fact that Adam was the leader and the one accounted by God. But we can see the idea that Adam was the one called on as the leader to take initiatives, and since he did not exercise initiative he became the focus of sin for all humans.
So when Jesus Christ was born, He was not born of a man – Joseph – but only of a woman, Mary. If Jesus’ birth had resulted of a man’s contribution to the conception, He would have been a sinner.
These illustrations help us to see that males as husbands are God’s design for leadership. It does not mean that a husband is to be in control of a wife or anyone else, but called to take initiative. And husbands are called to sacrifice themselves to their wives versus pursuing themselves.
Ephesians 5:22-24 and 25
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,
He Himself being the Savior of the body.
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
So here is a question: Do we bow as husbands or wives before God?
On the one hand Eve sinned first but Adam was the one held responsible for it. So a husband is to accept leadership and initiative toward his wife. But a wife is called by God to be submissive to her husband, even if he is not in good shape.
1 Peter 3:1-3
You wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
SO: Are we willing to sacrifice before God because of His grace toward us? If we are willing to sacrifice before God as a believer, are we willing to sacrifice before a spouse? Are you as a husband willing to sacrifice yourself to your wife? Are you as a wife willing to sacrifice yourself to your husband? The question is whether we are willing to sacrifice before God and display God throughout the kingdom and to our children.
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry and on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Christian Alliance.