The first institution ever established on earth was the family. Before governments or churches, before sin or sacrifices, even before the Sabbath—the family was instituted in Eden.
“God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable;’ it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.” The Adventist Home, 25, 26.
The family was the center of God’s creation. It was not the Sabbath (Mark 2:27), or the tree of life, and certainly not the tree of knowledge. It was not Adam; it was not Eve, but it was Adam and Eve together as a family. The family was the center of creation and today it is still the center of creation. The center of all society, and the center of every nation, and the center of the church is the family.
“Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are ‘the issues of life’; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.” The Adventist Home, 15.
As the last act of creation week and as the first institution on earth, God established marriage and created the family. God is the creator of this institution—He is the manufacturer. (Matthew 19:6.) And one of the reasons why marriage has not been working in the twentieth century is that man has forgotten the family’s Creator. Man has been trying a do-it-yourself job with the marriage institution.
There is a sign that hangs in many repair shops: “When all else fails, try the manufacturer’s instructions.” That is the sign that should hang in more marriage chambers and in more pastor’s offices and in the waiting rooms of marriage counselors. But is it not a shame that we have to try everything else first, and make a total mess of things before we will try God’s way (if we will then).
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6.
Peter said: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [your wives] according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7.
Oh, you mean this can even hinder prayers from being answered? That is what it says. If we are not living up to the “manufacturer’s instructions,” not only will the home be a failure, but God will not answer the prayers that ascend from that family. The way the family is run is not a take it or leave it situation. The family is a sacred institution to be honored according to the laws of God, just as is the Sabbath.
If the marriage institution is to be run according to the Law of God, can these laws be learned from worldly sources any more than the true laws of the Sabbath can be learned from worldly sources?
Besides it being a duty to God to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the marriage, and besides it being necessary for prayers to be answered, it is also the only way that will make the marriage work. There is only one way that marriage will work! Only one!
There are several different answers to home government, but only one that works. Is it so hard to understand? When a person makes a car to run on gasoline, that is the only substance that will make it run. Oh, sure, there are many things you can put in the gas tank, but only one substance will make it run.
That is exactly the way it is with marriage and that is exactly the reason marriages are not working right today. God has the answers, the only answers for running a home, but we want to try every other way. We want to find out the answers from every other source but the manufacturer. And the world’s principles of home management and the manufacturer’s principles are opposite. They do not go together! They do not mix. There is no worldly university in the land where you can go and find out God’s principles of how to run a home. And even if it is an Adventist teacher or counselor that learns his principles from worldly sources, they are still wrong principles and they still will not work.
How many answers are there to the equation 2 + 2? Only one? Isn’t that narrow minded? Three point nine is very close, wouldn’t that work? How about 3.99999? Only one right answer? Yes, but let me ask you friend, how many wrong answers are there? Many. There are always many wrong answers. That is why there are so many churches and that is why there are so many philosophies and “answers” to marriage problems, and that is why so few homes work. They work just to the proportion that they are run according to God’s principles.
The Devil Has An Advantage Over God
God has only one answer, but the devil has many. He has one for every personality. And he will have one that just fits your personality. He can manufacturer one that might even seem better than God’s plan. That is why we have to manage our homes by faith. We must study God’s way and follow it—not from feeling, but from principles. Let us throw out all the worldly books on marriage—whether written by Adventists or non-Adventists—and come to the true source of knowledge.
“Those who would have that wisdom which is from God must become fools in the sinful knowledge of this age, in order to be wise. They should shut their eyes, that they may see and learn no evil. They should close their ears, lest they hear that which is evil and obtain that knowledge which would stain their purity of thoughts and acts. And they should guard their tongues, lest they utter corrupt communications and guile be found in their mouths.” The Adventist Home, 404.
The Story of Eve
In the beginning God made man, but He saw that he was lonely. God does not want anyone to be lonely, so He made a companion for Adam. Using a very graphic illustration, as God often does, He took a rib from Adam’s side to make a helpmeet for him. She was not to rule over him, neither was she to be trampled under foot, but she was to be loved, guided and protected. She was an equal and yet God made her the weaker vessel and ordained that Adam should be her rightful protector—to protect her equality, purity and happiness.
God made Eve weaker than Adam—not just physically, but emotionally. God made Eve to want to be noticed and He knew that this desire could be taken advantage of. Adam was to see that no one took advantage of this attribute. In later years after sin, it would be part of Adam’s job to protect Eve from needlessly exposing herself to temptation by the way she dressed and enticed other men. Adam would better understand than Eve the wondering and lusting eye of man and the subtlety of his words and compliments. He would understand from experience that: “Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils.” Education, 248.
But even in the Garden of Eden there were dangers to beware of. They were to be a veil and a wall of protection to each other.
“The angels warned them of Satan, and cautioned them not to separate from each other in their employment, for they might be brought in contact with this fallen foe. The angels enjoined upon them to closely follow the directions God had given them, for in perfect obedience only were they safe. And if they were obedient, this fallen foe could have no power over them. “Satan commenced his work with Eve, to cause her to disobey. She first erred in wandering from her husband. . . .” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 20.
The instruction to remain by the side of her companion was especially given to Eve (Patriarchs and Prophets, 53), but unconsciously she wandered from Adam’s side.
“On perceiving that she was alone, she felt an apprehension of danger, but dismissed her fears, deciding that she had sufficient wisdom and strength to discern evil and to withstand it.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 53, 54.
Eve was a mature woman, and wise enough to take care of herself, or so she thought. But Satan came in an unsuspecting way. He came through a close and trusted acquaintance—an animal friend of theirs—and “with subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness” began to play on her natural, God given feelings of wanting to be noticed. And it worked.
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was a tree of life and the other was a tree of knowledge. That is not to say that the tree of life did not contain knowledge. It just did not contain as much knowledge—it presented only one side of things. But the tree of knowledge presented both sides of the picture and offered many answers to life.
The serpent was found in the tree of knowledge. He first commenced to recognize Eve’s true qualities. But as she received the attentions from another than her husband, her confidence and love for that one was increased. And as the serpent offered his own personal testimony as to the help this knowledge had brought him, Eve was induced into partaking of this knowledge herself.
“Eve really believed the words of Satan, but her belief did not save her from the penalty of sin. She disbelieved the words of God, and this was what led to her fall.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 55.
You may truly believe Satan, you may have true confidence and trust in your friends’ and acquaintances’ testimonials and theories, but this will not save you from the consequences of a broken home. What will save you is belief in Christ and His word. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Not knowledge from the tree of knowledge, but knowledge from the tree of life.
“The serpent plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree and placed it in the hands of the half-reluctant Eve.” (Being half-reluctant did not save her either.) “Perceiving no evil results from what she had done [receiving the fruit], Eve grew bolder.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 55, 56. Eve did not rush into things. She took them a step at a time. As she saw that there was no harm resulting from what she had done and as she saw the fruit was good for food, she ate.
And low and behold, the serpent was right.
“As she ate, she seemed to feel a vivifying power; and imagined herself entering upon a higher state of existence.” Ibid.
The serpent was right! Now she had a personal testimony of her own to give to her husband! “Look what it has done for me.” This knowledge (this book, this course, this magazine, etc.) has really helped me. This is what you need to help you in your problems. And if you do not have any problems it will still make life better.
“Ah,” says Adam, “I don’t believe that fruit will really help you.” “But have you tried it?” replied Eve. “You cannot criticize something you have not tried!” (That argument gets more people than any other.) “Just try it and see for yourself. Be more open minded. Try it with an open mind and you will find that it is true.” And so Adam fell, too.
Get the Good and Reject the Bad
The tree was a tree of knowledge of good (and a little bad). Why should not Eve get all of the good she could? Would God deprive her of that? Why should not she just eat the good part of the fruit and leave the bad?
And so we have the same philosophy today in marriage books and in almost every other source of information. “You cannot expect anything to be perfect, so go through the book (or course) and get what good there is in it and leave the rest.” When we follow this counsel, we usually end up doing as good a job as Eve.
And so the devil works today mixing truth and error. He is not always as bold as he is in the religion of Taoism where they teach that the whole universe came into existence through the blending of good and evil (yang and yin), and it is only as these two qualities are maintained in equilibrium that peace and health are preserved.
The Mormons teach the same thing in just a little less blatant form. They teach that sin had to be in order for us to ever understand righteousness, happiness and purity. They, like Satan, teach that sin was a necessity in order for righteousness to exist. Sin was a necessity; God’s program would have never worked without Satan; there had to be a blending of the two.
All such philosophy is straight from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To put the finishing proof on where this philosophy came from, Mormons teach that Jesus Christ Himself came down and told Joseph Smith that He had changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Who was this? Who is trying to change God’s law? As in Daniel 7:25, the devil is the originator of any such teaching.
And yet Adventists will study “Fascinating Womanhood” without any qualms—and it is straight from Mormonism! Oh, but there is so much good in it! So was there in the tree of knowledge of good (and evil.) Oh, but I got such a benefit! So thought Eve. Oh, but I will just get the good and discard the evil! You will do as good a job at that as did Eve.
We have been feasting at the tree of knowledge of good and evil and that is why we are having so many marriage problems in our church. And the devil enjoys it, for he knows that the heart… of the church…is the household. The well-being…of the church…depend(s) upon home influences.” The Adventist Home, 15.
As long as he can keep this situation existing in the church; as long as he can keep Adventists feasting on the tree of knowledge of good and evil so they will not be able to have good homes, Satan knows that he can prevent Jesus from coming. But there is coming a time when the church and the families that are “the heart” of the church will be purified.
The results of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil can be seen all around. We can see it in the lukewarm state of our church. We can see it in the divorce rate among Seventh-day Adventist couples. (But the actual divorces are only the mere tip of the iceberg of the marriage problems. More than any other place, we can see the results in our philosophies, practices and thinking.)
Mrs. White says: “It is not in harmony with the instructions given at Sinai that gentlemen physicians should do the work of midwives. The Bible speaks of women at childbirth being attended by women, and thus it ought always to be.” Counsels on Health, 365. Notice, that this problem of women going to women for their female problems (both mental and physical) is not just a matter of modesty—it is a matter of keeping or breaking God’s law.
And if you think this might just be an isolated quotation, see the shaded box with just a few more of the many times Sister White wrote on this subject.
Sister White applies the same principle for female health-care workers and male patients.
“Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians. It is an insult to women, and God looks upon these things of commonness with abhorrence.” Ibid.
Why have I included all of this counsel from God’s prophet on this delicate and unpopular subject? Only for the reason that we stated at the beginning: this was only an example to show how much we have been influenced by the world’s knowledge of good and evil. How many today even consider this subject when they choose a physician? There are even some people that feel that it is not a woman’s job to deliver babies and deal with female problems. All such thinking is a gross perversion of the devil and must be cleaned out of our midst before we will be a pure people for God to come and take home. We have a long ways to go, don’t we? We have been feasting at the tree of knowledge of good and evil—it is time we come back to the tree of life.
This was but an example so obvious that no one could miss it and so simple that all can understand it. It is an example of mixing good with evil. It is good to treat people and maintain health, but it is bad to do it in an immoral way.
In this world of sin, God’s ways are always hard—they are contrary to the popular way of doing things. The Sabbath is not popular either. But God’s ways can be followed if we really want to follow them. It just depends how badly we want to follow. If we want excuses, we can find them. If we want to find reasons for not following God’s plan, the devil will supply us with what we want. If we want another way than God’s way, there are plenty. But if we are determined to follow God’s way and only God’s way, we can do it—and we will have successful homes. “Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 333.
The example of following the world’s customs of male-female relationships in medicine was just an example. In how many other areas do you suppose we have been influenced by eating of the tree of knowledge of good (and a little evil)?
Friends, we do not have to go to the tree with the serpent in it for our knowledge. We have the tree of life and it is all sufficient. The tree of life was symbolic of Jesus and the fruit was symbolic of His words. Jesus also likened His words to another kind of sustaining food—the bread of life. He said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth [the worldly sources of knowledge], but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.
“My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.…And Jesus said…I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.
“Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.
“As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” John 6:27, 32–35, 47–51, 57–58, 63.
The tree of life is where we should be feasting. From this tree we can find all the answers for our homes today. This is the sacred institution of God, created in the Garden of Eden along with the Sabbath. “The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God’s purpose they are indissolubly linked together.” Education, 250.
If you can go to the world to learn how to keep the Sabbath, then you can go to the world to learn how to keep the marriage. If the Sabbath is just a matter of convenience, than so is keeping the marriage institution.
Eating from the Tree of Life
But friend, it is not just important that we do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is just as important that we do eat of the tree of life. The home is based on true love. What should be in the home is true, sanctified love. This is the basis of a sanctified home. And this can only be found at the tree of life.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8.
If you love, you know God.
If you do not love, you do not know God.
If you know God, you love.
If you do not know God, you do not love.
Therefore, if you want more love, where is the only place you can go to find it? God is the only one you can get love from and if you do not know Him, you do not have it.
The only way you can have love is to know God. The only way you can have love daily is to know God daily. The only way you can know God is through devotions (prayer, meditation and the study of His word). Friend, if you are not having daily devotions, you do not have a good home! No gimmicks will work. No courses will work. No books will work. Only daily communing with God will work. Make the choice today to start having daily devotions always. Make this your first work.
“The presence of Christ alone can make men and women happy. All the common waters of life Christ can turn into the wine of heaven. The home then becomes as an Eden of bliss; the family, a beautiful symbol of the family in heaven.” The Adventist Home, 28.