Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.


Having seen the perfect purpose of God for both the man and the woman and the great principles that governed it, we shall now consider the change that took place and the confusion that was caused by the fall of man.

What Satan offered to Eve and what she accepted was independence – independence from God’s authority and liberty from the rule of the law of perfect love – freedom to apply the law of self-love, permitting all things to be valued, judged and used by the rule of self-interest. Perfect love, with no self in its heart, was rejected as naive, undesirable and unprofitable and self was placed upon the throne in love’s heart, as the center of all activity and the motive of all attainment and gain.

All values changed. That which was undesirable became desirable; that which was wrong became justifiable and right. The life given through the “Tree of Life” no longer satisfied. God’s statement that the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” (an unholy mixture, a mixture of good and evil; seeming good that comes from an evil root and therefore is false and evil) would bring death, was denied and rejected as untrue and that Tree was accepted as the true basis of life.

Then death started to work. In all the spheres of life, in every motive, in every action, in every thought, the evil mixture of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” bore the seed of death. God stated to the man and the woman what the results of their new-found “liberty” would be (Gen. 3:16-19). In all the man’s work, corrupting evil would bring loss to end in death. In the woman’s sphere every department of her life and work would be affected. These results are not punishments meted out by God but inevitable consequences of sin.

A Three-Fold Result

“To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband (or: subject to your husband) and he shall rule over you’” (Gen. 3:16). This statement deals with the three departments of a woman’s life and work: childbearing, her relation to her children and her relation to her husband. In each of these her new “wisdom” would bring the fruit of death.

(1) The consequent effect upon her body would be the many physical imperfections with which she has to contend in the bearing of children.

(2) Her children would bring her sorrow as well as joy. Physically they are affected, as she is. The law of self-love rules their lives also and bears its deadly fruit. It was not long before this fruit appeared and displayed the full depravity of its nature: Cain manifested his pride of heart before God, slew his brother and said, “Am I my brother’s keeper ?” Self-love, self-interest, was the law that governed his actions and the reason upon which he justified them. Thus began the suffering of the woman through her children in whom her new nature was displayed.

(3) In her husband’s rule over her also the new law would bring fruit that would be bitter to her. She would continue to require his rule, but now it would be exercised upon the basis of the new “wisdom”. She had rejected true government. She had taken the rule of her life out of God’s hands into her own. “Ye shall be as Elohim” (the Almighty Creator), was the offer she had accepted, the purpose she had in view. Now she considered that she was to be lord of her own life, fashioning it for her own benefit alone. But God told her that she would still be ruled by her husband, whose rule would now be based upon the same new “wisdom”, in which he would be seeking his own self-interest. Thus his rule would clash with her purpose, and sorrow would be the result.

Instead of a headship based upon the law of perfect love and an obedience based also upon perfect love, with both the man and the woman cooperating together in a perfect fellowship of service, self-interest is now the objective of each and that introduces into every part of their fellowship and work rivalry, disharmony and disunity. Where their objectives coincide, it is only because it happens to be to the interest of self in each, but at many points, and always in the ultimate issue, their interests are personal and irreconcilable, for self rules in the heart of each.

Thus the results of the fall affect the woman’s whole life. There is, of course, much that remains that can bring great joy and blessing. God in His love permits it to be so. The glory of His original purpose for man’s service and happiness can still be seen, but how sadly tarnished is its glory. As the good is mixed with evil so the joy is mixed with sorrow and the gain with loss. The death which God said would be the result is always there, touching man’s life and work at every point.

Order and Liberty

We have seen what the principle of God’s government is. Its objective is the good of all. It maintains order that the good of all may be achieved. It does not do this by subjugating or over-ruling the individual. On the contrary, its purpose is to provide the conditions in which the individual will have true and complete expression and be able to enjoy full and perfect attainment.

Man dreams of such things. He visions them as desirable and seeks to obtain them by his own wisdom. He labels his most ambitious efforts Humanism, Socialism, Communism, etc. Naturally, the principle upon which he seeks to build is always that of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” – the unholy mixture. He builds with men in whose hearts this principle reigns and he does not see that, for that very reason, his task is an impossible one. So he strives to obtain the fruits of perfect love upon the basis of self-love. And when he finds the law of self-love opposing him in men’s hearts he seeks to subdue it by decree, by force. He presents us with the spectacle of fallen man endeavoring to produce love’s birth-rights – personal liberty, attainment and happiness – by trampling them ruthlessly underfoot, and yet, through it all, blinded to the cruel absurdity of his work.

Government a Necessity

In the home, government is a necessity. Unity and coordination are essential if the life and work of the family are to attain their true fulfillment. This can be obtained only through true government accepted by all. As we have seen, without God’s government, this Universe would fall into chaos. “He upholds all things by the word of his power.” Man’s rejection of God’s government brought chaos to this earth. In the home also the failure to exercise true government, or the rejection of it, brings chaos.

We have seen that the headship of the husband is not a result of the fall; it was the order before the fall and a primary necessity for the family. For the true exercise of the woman’s ministry that headship is necessary. It produces the conditions essential to her work – order, coordination, protection, support, security, peace. It does not infringe upon her true liberty. It does not make her an inferior. It provides her with the ideal conditions in which she can display her character, use all her gifts and fulfill her life. The lack of that government makes this impossible. Instead of order there is disorder; instead of coordination there is disunity. Frustration and failure enter into the life of every member of the family, husband, wife and children.

The children suffer greatly. When brought up where there is not that true government and order, they are definitely handicapped and their character may be seriously harmed. The pitiful effects upon them of unhappy homes or of broken homes are all too well known. The influence upon them of a true government exercised by the father and a true support of it by the mother, causing them to respect and accept it, produces a well-being, mental, physical and moral, and places them in an environment necessary for the development of happy, well-balanced, well-integrated and disciplined personalities. Psychologically it is a wise and necessary provision.

It is, of course, not the husband alone who exercises authority in the home. There is an important sphere of authority that belongs to the woman. “I wish therefore that younger widows should marry, bear children, rule their households, and give no occasion to the adversary for reproach” (1 Tim. 5:14, Conybeare).

In her relation to the children, the mother is the second in command. The government which she exercises requires the highest order of wisdom, understanding and diplomacy. She must understand the needs, spiritual, physical and psychological, of her children and it is as necessary for her as for her husband to depend upon the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

If the mother is unwise or lax in her exercise of authority and discipline, if she is inconsistent, threatening but doing nothing, if she acts in anger and not in wisdom, if she does not uphold the authority of the father, the harm wrought will be just as great as when the fault lies with the father. It places the father under a serious handicap in the exercise of his authority and discipline. This problem is seen in not a few homes and the effects upon the children can be great. The two authorities – that of the father and that of the mother – must be carefully and loyally coordinated in accordance with the principles that are given clearly in God’s Word for our guidance in this matter. True government exercised by both the husband and the wife gives a home in which there is order and happiness.

(At this point we must recommend the E-Booklet “Under Loving Command”, by Al and Patricia Fabrizio. It is a contemporary example of one family’s learning experience, and how God guided them with their four young children to apply these principles. The E-booklet can be found on this website –

The rejection of the husband’s authority by the mother, weakens her own authority. The fact that she can appeal to a higher authority, which she herself respects, has a great influence upon the children. Psychologically this also is a wise provision. It greatly strengthens her authority. If she does not respect her husband’s authority, the psychological balance is upset. Confusion is introduced which is psychologically harmful, not only to the children but also to the father and the mother. The normal order for the family is violated and the whole household suffers. There is deep wisdom in the order which God has ordained. It is the perfect wisdom of love and it brings the true fruits of love.

Bible Examples

In the Old Testament there are a number of passages that reveal the importance and varied character of the work that comes within a woman’s sphere. The most comprehensive is Proverbs 31:10-31:

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days other life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maid servants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates”.

Here we have pictured a woman who would be in no way pitied by her sisters of today. It is a woman at the head of her household, capably managing its affairs. Her interests are varied and wide, all her abilities have ample scope. She cares fully for all the wants of her family and thinks also of those in need outside. She has the full confidence of her husband and by her loyal cooperation brings much good to him and to the whole family. When her children are grown she has their love and respect.

If we put this wife’s story into modern terms we shall be surprised to find how up-to-date she was. She applied many skills in household management: interior decorating, dietetics, business administration, real estate purchase, gardening, salesmanship and works of charity. Through her sterling character and efficient industry and management of the household as a helper she made possible her husband’s position of leadership in the city councils and she herself exercised an influence for good upon the community.

In the New Testament we are given glimpses into such homes. There was the home of Aquila and Priscilla where God’s servants, Paul and his companions, were welcomed as guests and where husband and wife actively cooperated in the work of the Gospel, the spiritual instruction given by both to Apollos being specially mentioned. There were all types of godly homes, normal in every way and just like homes today. Customs and styles have changed but the expression of the heart, the needs of man and the great principles that govern the life of the home, are exactly the same.

In both the Old and the New Testament we see also into homes of a different order where the woman’s influence was exerted for evil and bore a harvest of evil as did that of Jezebel and Herodias. The consequences always involved others, sometimes the family, sometimes leading the whole nation into sin. For the woman’s influence upon others is great, for good or for evil, because she ministers at the heart of the life of society – the home.

In no home was the influence of the woman for good or evil more clearly manifested than in the first one – that of Adam and Eve. The consequences reached out to all mankind. The causes, the reasons and the results are made abundantly clear for our instruction and warning.