Endnotes: Chapter 6

  1.  Literally, the second sentence reads, “toward your husband {will be} your desire, and he {will} rule over you.” The meanings of “desire” and “rule” are the subject of the debate. In the traditional view, the “desire” of the woman is thought to be a kind of yearning, whether psychological or sexual (or both), for her husband. This may be a longing for intimacy (damaged in the Rebellion) or an expression of the woman’s maternal instinct that overrides the daunting pain of childbirth. An alternative explanation regards “desire” as a drive on the part of the woman to be independent of or to control her husband. This view is reflected in the interpretive translation of the NET Bible: “You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” This understanding is based on verbal parallels with the structure and terminology of a statement in Genesis 4:7, which refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. A woman’s desire to control her husband would reflect a dramatic reversal of the wife’s designated role as his helper. In their interpretation of “rule,” some commentators point to this verse as the basis for male headship in marriage. But most view it as a sin-infected domination that subjugates the woman to the husband’s purposes (as in the NET Bible).
  2. Derek Kidner, Genesis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 71.
  3. Marital abuse is a recurring theme in the subsequent chapters of Genesis: “the violence, egotism and polygamy of Lamech (Gen. 4:19, 23, 24); the cowardice of Abram (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18) and Isaac (Gen. 26:6-11); the rivalry and heartache of Sarai in relation to Abram and Hagar (Gen. 16:1-6); the deceiving of Isaac by Rebekah and Jacob (Gen. 27:5-29); Shechem’s rape of Dinah (Gen. 34:1-31); and Judah’s disgraceful relations with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gen. 38:13-18).” Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., “Man and Woman,” New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 652.
  4. Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage (New York: Viking Penguin, 2005), 68.
  5. Katie Couric in a report on “The History of Marriage,” airing February 17, 2005 on the Today Show, NBC.
  6. “Marriage before the seventeenth century was arranged by the parents, and the motives were the economic and political benefit of the kin group, not the emotional satisfaction of the individuals. As the concept of individualism grew in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it slowly became accepted that the prime object was ‘holy matrimony,’ a sanctified state of monogamous married contentment. This was best achieved by allowing the couple to make their own choice, provided that both sets of parents agreed that the social and economic gap was not too wide, and that marriage was preceded by a long period of courtship. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, individualism had so far taken precedence over the group interest of the kin that the couple were left more or less free to make their own decision…Today individualism is given such absolute priority in most Western societies, that the couple are virtually free to act as they please, to sleep with whom they please, and to marry and divorce when and whom they please to suit their own pleasure. The psychic cost of such behavior, and its self-defeating consequences, are becoming clear, however, and how long this situation will last is anybody’s guess.” Lawrence Stone, “Passionate Attachments in the West in Historical Perspective,” in Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying, ed. Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 42.
  7. Coontz, Marriage, a History, 146.
  8. The generations-old double standard that censured “tainted” girls but overlooked the coming-of-age exploits of boys continued to govern societal perspectives.
  9. David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, 1999,” The National Marriage Project, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 1999, http://www.stateofourunions.org/pdfs/SOOU1999.pdf, accessed February 2014.
  10. Timothy and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (New York: Dutton, 2011), 28.
  11. By excluding aspects of marriage originally included in God’s original design, such as the function of working partnership, they also experience less from a marriage than it can deliver.
  12. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been tried. Paul Pearsall explains that in ancient Roman society, there were three levels of marriage—confarreatio, coemptio, and usus—with decreasing degrees of commitment. Usus amounted to a trial marriage for one year. If it worked out, the couple progressed to the permanent and legally binding status of confarreatio. Pearsall notes, “the usus marriage failed the Romans because only a small percentage of these marriages survived the one-year trial period.” This arrangement was abandoned in the third century. Ten Laws of Lasting Love (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), 50-51, cited in Mike and Harriet McManus, Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008), 73-75.
  13. This change in attitude is also a by-product of the Sexual Revolution, which overthrew cultural standards restricting sex to marriage.
  14. “Social Indicators of Marital Health and Well-Being,” The National Marriage Project, University of Virginia, December, 2010, http://stateofourunions.org/2010/SOOU2010.pdf, accessed August 2013.
  15. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman (New York: Broadway Books, 2003), 13. The component parts of this emerging pattern may be seen in this chart, which has been extrapolated from Whitehead’s chapter, “The Rise of a Relationships System,” 98-126.

Two Parallel Mating Systems

The Marrying System


The Relationships System


Target population

Never-married young

Diverse singles population

(including senior citizens, gays, divorced, widowed, never-married)


Pair off people for lifelong marriage

Pair off people for intimate relationships (marriage, cohabitation, serial monogamy, casual sexual partnerings)

Sex and marriage

Links sex, childbearing, and parenthood to marriage

Treats sex, childbearing, parenthood separate from marriage

Nature of commitment

Anchors commitment in a legal contract or religious covenant with publicly made vows

Reduces commitment to private understandings and mutual consent


Hopefully lifelong

Short-term, shallow relationships


Climbs a sequence of rungs toward marriage: casual dating → exclusive dating → engagement → marriage

Cycles through a series of relationships that form and break up with no necessary connection to marriage


Mostly male

Whoever wants attachment (often female)

“Signature” union



Society’s interest

Maximize stability of family for child rearing

Minimize disorder, gender conflict, and couple violence

  1.  While marriage embraces self-denial for the good of the other, cohabitation pursues self-fulfillment through the services of the other.
  2. Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick, Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 163, 172. This same statistic is reported by McManus and McManus, Living Together, 61, 69.
  3. “Most governments in Europe and most states and provinces in North America retained ‘head and master’ laws that allowed husbands to make family decisions without consulting their wives right up until the 1970s.” Coontz, Marriage, a History, 194.
  4. See Andrew J. Cherlin, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today (New York: Knopf, 2009). In this recent best seller, Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, maintains that the widespread commitment to individualism is the reason for the unprecedented rate at which Americans couple and uncouple, cycling through a sequence of short-lived marital and cohabiting relationships. The operational corollary of individualism is that if a given relationship becomes unsatisfying or burdensome, it can be—even should be—dissolved. This trend, which is more prominent in the US than anywhere else in the world, has devastating consequences for children.
  5. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of US Census data, the median age at first marriage for women is 26.5 years, and for men, 28.7. This is the oldest average age for marriage for both men and women in American history. D’Vera Cohn, Jeffery S. Passel, and Wendy Wang, “Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married—A Record Low,” Pew Research Center: Social and Demographic Trends, December 14, 2011, www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2011/12/marriage-decline-final.pdf, accessed 2 January 2012. Some ramifications of this trend toward marrying at increasingly older ages are discussed in chapter 10 under “Misstep 1.”
  6. Ibid. Carolyn A. Koons and Michael J. Anthony place this data in historical context by reporting that the single adult population in 1900, and again immediately following World War II, was less than 5 percent of all adults! Single Adult Passage: Uncharted Territories (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Book House, 1991), 48-51.