In the first part of the pronouncement over Eve, God said that he would multiply Eve’s pain in the childbirth experience. This pronouncement indicated an increased difficulty for woman to fulfill God’s charge to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. God does not fully take away his blessing over the task, but the task will now be more challenging.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you
God also said to the woman “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” But what does “Your desire will be for your husband” mean? The Hebrew word for “desire” used here is teshuquah. It simply means “a desire” or “longing for.” It does not necessarily carry sexual connotations as it might in English. Taken in context, it refers to a desire to rule over the husband. The New Living Translation captures this thought in verse sixteen: “Then he said to the woman, ‘I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you’” (Gen. 3:16, NLT).
The fall of man negatively affected the relationship between man and woman, husband and wife. In the ruling and exercising dominion over creation, there became a struggle for power between man and woman. Scripture here is not supporting either the woman’s “desire” to rule over the husband or man’s “ruling over” the woman. The struggle itself is the result of man choosing sin, and the struggle is a new element in their relationship. It did not exist prior to the fall.
The Septuagint chose to translate the phrase “He will rule over you” as (kaì autós sou kurieúsei) “he will lord it over you.”9
Notice also that the text says he “will rule over you,” in the future tense. This is further indication that men and women were both charged to rule and considered equal before the fall. God would not say, “he will rule over you” if Adam had already been placed in a position of ruling over his wife prior to the fall.
The Curse Over the Man
What God said to the man was different from what he said to the woman. Man was told that the ground would be cursed; would produce thorns and thistles, and that it would be hard work to produce food. The consequences given to the woman were similar to the consequences given to the man in that it would now be more difficult for man to fulfill his original charge. As a result of the fall, man incurred difficulty in his task to be fruitful, fill the earth, subdue it, and to rule.
The Curse and Creation
All of creation was affected by the fall of man. Man’s original task was to hold dominion over creation, but his sin subjected all of creation to a struggle. In the following verses, Paul puts it another way. He calls it a “subjection to futility” or “slavery to corruption.”
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:19-23).”
Notice that creation is eagerly awaiting freedom from slavery. And, God’s hope is that creation becomes free. It is not God’s intention that creation, including man and woman, stays subject to the curse. While it is true that all of creation came under the curse, Jesus’ sacrifice broke the power of the curse over both man and creation. Noted scholar F. F. Bruce puts it this way:
“Man [Adam] was put in charge of the ‘lower creation’ and involved it with him when he fell; through the work of the ‘second man’ [Jesus] the entail of the fall is broken not only for man himself but for the creation, which is dependent on him.”10
Women do not Have to Live Under the Curse!
So, since Jesus broke the power of the curse, and creation is longing to be freed from the curse, why are so many Christians content to live with its effects? They should not be. True, we will not see the entirety of the curse removed until Jesus returns, but our position as Christians should be to reverse the effects of the curse wherever and whenever possible. That was the point of Jesus’ ministry. He ushered in the kingdom of God. Where the kingdom of God is in effect, there is no curse. Jesus came to set the prisoners free and to free all people from the effects of the curse (Luke 4:18- 21). He passed that same ministry (his ministry) on to the church (Luke 10:1-21; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-19; Acts 1:4-9).
Most Christians are comfortable fighting the effects of man’s portion of the curse. The ground was cursed. As a result, food was harder to produce. The consequences given to the man resulted in starvation and poverty. No one has a problem with making the task of producing food easier or with eliminating poverty.
If we oppose the effects the curse given to the man, then we should also oppose the effects of the curse given to the woman. To seek freedom from only part of the curse makes no sense. The woman’s part of the curse resulted in a struggle between man and woman where men rule or dominate women. We should bring redemption to this part of the curse the same way we do with sin, sickness, poverty, and starvation. God’s intention for woman is for her to rule alongside man in harmony as she did in the garden before the fall of man.
This is an excerpt from chapter 1 of the book UnSilenced by Alan Garrett
9. I learned about the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Genesis from Dr. Richard S. Cervin, Sacramento, CA.
10. F. F. Bruce, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Letter of Paul to the Romans. (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 160. 16.
© 2016 Alan Garrett, alsgarrett.net