Adam and Eve had distinct roles in their marriage and in the moment that sin entered the picture, those roles were reversed. The fall of man may never have taken place if not for the role reversal between Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2, we learn that Adam is the leader and Eve is the helper. Those roles are ignored in Genesis 3. Three persons ignore Adam’s headship in Gen. 3:1-7.
The first is Satan. He goes straight to Eve and begins his deception with “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). Satan was crafty enough to ignore Adams headship and authority and go straight to Adam’s helper, Eve.
The second is Eve. Instead of allowing her husband to lead her and deal with Satan’s deception, Eve is deceived and instead of being led away from sin by Adam, she leads her husband into sin, giving Adam the fruit to eat (Gen. 3:2-6).
The third is Adam himself. He ignores his own role of leading his wife away from Satan and addressing Satan’s lies. Based on Gen. 3:6, we have every reason to believe Adam was with Eve the entire time:
So 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, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Adam was there with Eve and all along Adam was most responsible for the couple’s obedience to God’s command not to eat of the tree. Sadly, Adam failed to lead his wife and they both fell into sin, bringing a great curse on all of mankind. Make no mistake, it was through Adam’s sin, not Eve’s, that we are all cursed:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
Notice that in Gen. 3:9, God, who knows that Adam and Eve sinned and that Eve was the one deceived, goes to Adam and addresses him first. God desired Adam to be the leader and the head of Eve so it makes sense that God would go to Adam first. In Gen. 3:12, Adam seems to admit that his wife led him and he followed:
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Because they disobeyed God, ignored Adam’s headship, and reversed roles so that Eve was the leader, God cursed man and woman (Gen. 3:14-19). The curse to the woman was a painful role reversal. Gen 3:16 says:
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
What this means is that God gives the woman a desire to want to control her husband (see Gen. 4:7 on the use of the word desire) and that the woman will suffer domination by the man. It’s everything that male headship before the fall is not. Male headship is about working together with the husband leading the wife to worship God whereas this curse is about the couple working against each other. It’s a curse we see all around us today in marital strife, domestic abuse, gender discrimination, etc.
The blessing of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ, we can escape this curse and restore the roles man and woman had before the fall. The husband is to lead the wife in the Lord.This is a 7-part series. For a comprehensive study, see Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem