Curse: “To the Woman”
The curse to the woman as recorded in Genesis 3:16 involved two main ideas: “I will greatly increase your pain in childbirth,” and in terms of her relationship with her husband, “he will rule over you.”
The first curse refers to the physical pain of childbirth, which would be multiplied or increased greatly. This is the reality of bringing new life into the world; and in spite of all of the modern medicine and techniques, childbirth still involves pain. One reason God may have chosen to increase the woman’s pain in childbirth was to provide a real life example of the pain which God would now be required to endure to bring spiritual life to a dark and dying world. It would be Jesus, God’s only Son, who would suffer and die that the world may have life. This truth is recorded in 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
The good news of God’s grace is that joy follows with the birth of the child, and the pain is forgotten. As Jesus said, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21, NIV).
In addition to the increased pain in childbirth, the curse to the woman affected her relationship with her husband. Genesis 2:24 describes the right and ordained relationship between woman and the man in this way: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
However, that has changed. The second part of Genesis 3:16 states this: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” This word “desire” is most often referred to as a positive, that the woman desired her husband in an emotional or physical way. But Genesis 4:7 gives a different view of the word desire, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; and it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Desire in this context is like a predator crouching and ready to pounce on its prey.
Seen in this light, Genesis 3:16 makes sense. The relationship is no longer the “one flesh” as designed by God prior to the fall. It now has become two individuals trying to rule over—or dominate—the other. Paul must have understood this when he said, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” when addressing the relationship between husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21.
Curse: “To the Woman”