Chapter 3:16-19 (ESV) - To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Question to consider: Do you think God’s punishment on the human race is merciful or cruel? Why or why not?
Having the knowledge of good and evil is not a bad thing if it isn’t rooted in rebellion against God. The actual curse was multiplied pain in childbirth for the woman and multiplied pain in labor for the man. Everything else seems to be the outcome of knowing the right thing to do but rebelling against it.
Our innate desire is to elevate ourselves as gods. So even when we know what God says to be true, we will fight against it because we don’t want to be told what to do. This is speculation on my part, but I think if Adam and Eve had cast out the serpent and remained obedient to God, He would have at some point helped them develop wisdom and understanding in a way that kept them from rebellion.
For the woman, outside of the increased pain of childbirth, she would suffer pain in child-rearing. Today, both parents experience this pain because husbands are much more involved in this process, but the pain is rooted in the child’s own tendency for rebellion. Children know they are to listen to their parents, but in their desire to be gods, they struggle against the rules of the house.
Man was appointed to be head of the household from the beginning and is the one that will one day have to answer to God for how he handled that headship. However, because we all wish to be gods, wives will have to fight a desire to take over the household and husbands will have to fight a desire to rule over them.
These things extend to our societal relationships as well to the point where every single thing that God has called good, society now calls evil. God created us male and female, but society now claims it is abuse to put such labels on children. God established the covenant of marriage, but society has redefined it and aims to destroy it completely. To covet a neighbor’s relationships and possessions was once an act of evil. Now it is a noble cause to redistribute ownership of things based on the desire of the masses. God has forbidden us to worship other gods, and yet it is considered noble to esteem ourselves and reward our own greatness. God has forbidden us from the taking of innocent life, and yet our society glorifies the destruction of our most vulnerable.
Our rebellion is so great that we even deny engaging in it and delude ourselves into thinking we can be good if only we follow our hearts. Outside of God’s word, every human philosophy and religion holds to the premise that we are good at our core and can improve our state in the world and before God.
Man bears the greatest responsibility for the curse. Adam listened to the voice of his wife over the voice of God when he ate. Eve ate after being deceived. Adam had full knowledge of God’s command and rebelled against it. In my opinion God showed tremendous mercy. Even if the ground was cursed to increase pain in labor, God still promised “he shall eat of it” so they didn’t go hungry. It’s worth noting that Man was always created for work. The curse just makes it a burden rather than a joy. There are people today who insist that work is only burdensome if you have not “found your passion.” Though I think work can be less of a burden if you do something that engages your gifts and abilities, God doesn’t always grant such opportunities. Joy comes from being in a right relationship with God and content with your circumstances. We can always strive to better ourselves and be open to new opportunities, but people can find joy in whatever work God gives them with a good work ethic and an attitude of thanksgiving.
The curse from God ends with them returning to the dust of the ground. As God promised, their action has brought death into the world. Our death is not a matter of if but when so we should use or time wisely and not harden our hearts to God’s commands.
Heavenly father, we thank you for giving us work and providing for us even though we have to work hard to earn a living. Please give us the desire to serve you in every kind of job you put before us, and if it is your will, please give us opportunities to use our gifts and abilities in the labor we do. We confess that we have often rebelled against those you have put in authority over us. Please forgive us and help us to submit to them as we would submit to you. Amen.