Summary: The judgment here upon Eve is not to be taken as a universal punishment of all women because of her sin. This is Eve's personal penalty for her sin.
When W. C. Fields was deathly sick his friend Gene Fowler dropped in on
him and caught him reading the Bible. Fowler was astounded, for Fields had
never found any use for the Bible other than to prop up his martini. Fowler
said, "Bill I am deeply touched." "Don't bother, muttered Fields, "I'm only
looking for loopholes." Unfortunately, a great many people only read the
Bible to search for loopholes. That is not our purpose in studying the
judgment of God upon the first sinners, but the fact is, there are some
loopholes to be found here, which are loopholes in the interpretation that is
often given to their judgment.
It is a common opinion which I always assume was true, until I looked at
the text carefully, that the judgment of verse 16 was a judgment upon all
women, and that the judgment of the verse of 17-19 was a judgment upon all
men. However, a little thinking upon the issue leads very quickly to some
loopholes in that common opinion. Many women have had their children
without pain with either a saddle block or by hypnosis. Other women, like my
sister and Lavonne's sister have had their children so easy and pain free just
naturally. My sister had her last child at home by herself and just called the
doctor the next day to see if everything was all right. The average person
suffers more just getting out of bed in the morning than she does in giving
birth to a child.
I could go on and on with stories dealing with people I know, and there
must be millions of examples that I don't know. The point is, not all women
suffer great pain in childbirth. The judgment here upon Eve, therefore, is not
to be taken as a universal punishment of all women because of her sin. This is
Eve's personal penalty for her sin. If you try and make it God's judgment
upon all women you have a great many loopholes to fill in. Not only do all
women not suffer in childbirth, but there are millions of women who never give
birth to children at all. If this is suppose to be a punishment upon all
women, then those who never have children get off the hook completely. This
would lead to the conclusion that childless women are being favored by God.
But all through the Old Testament a childless woman was to be pitied, for it
was a great honor to become a mother. All of this means that we have jumped
to a wrong conclusion if we have assumed that God's judgment upon Eve was
meant to pass down to all women.
All that this text says is that God was going to multiply the pain that Eve
would have in childbirth. This implies that there would be some pain even if
she had not sinned. It is normal to have some pain, and even Eve in her
unfallen state would have had some pain, but God said He would greatly
multiply it in her case. Many other women have great pain in childbirth, but
it is not because they are being judged for Eve's disobedience. If God was
going to punish Eve in a way that would be specific for her, and not include
Adam, it had to be in an area distinctively feminine, and it would be hard to
find anything more distinctive than child bearing.
God said to Eve that in spite of the pain she would suffer, she would still
desire her husband. The pain would not cause her to lose the desire for sex.
This also is not true for all women, but it was true for Eve, and she and Adam
had a great many children, and they got the human race rolling in spite of
judgment. She went through the pangs of childbirth over and over again with
no doctor or midwife. In 4:1 when Eve gave birth to her first child Cain she
said, as the Berkley Version has it, "I have gotten a man with the Lord's
help." God who passed the sentence of pain upon her was no cold-hearted
judge. He was a compassionate physician who gave Eve grace and strength to
enable her to bear her punishment and bring forth children successfully.
We notice that God says to Eve also that her husband shall have rule over
her. The implication is that in a state of perfection the male and female were
completely equal, but that the fall led to the male taking a superior position
over the female. Eve lost some of equality, and she had to summit to Adam.
This has come to be a principle that is almost universally accepted. The Koran
teaches it as well. The Bible alone, however, offers women the hope of