Genesis 3:16

The most known Bible verses tend to be found at chapter 3, verse 16. Two that immediately come to mind are John 3:16 and 2 Timothy 3:16. With this in mind, I’m giving myself this challenge. As I go through the Bible over the next year, I’m going to write about 3:16 of each book. If the book doesn’t have that many chapters or the chapter doesn’t have that many verses, then obviously it won’t be written about for that purpose. Why would I do this? Mostly, for fun.

We begin this adventure in the book of Genesis, and the first 3:16 we encounter isn’t one that brings good tidings for girls. Here it is:

He said to the woman:

I will intensify your labour pains;

You will bear children in anguish.

Your desire will be for your husband,

Yet he will rule over you.

You won’t hear it in a children’s song anytime soon, but as I read this passage of scripture, and the second part of this verse in particular, it brought a few things to mind that I’d like to think about. We’ve all heard about the fall, right? If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you have and if you haven’t, open the Bible and read Genesis 1-4 to get a bit more of an understanding.

Let’s start with something to do with child bearing. God doesn’t say that child bearing becomes inherently bad, but he does say it comes with pain attached. Anguish, to go with the wording found in the translation I use (Holman, for the record). Much like Adam is told that he will work the ground and succeed, but only with pain, the woman finds herself being fruitful yet because of the fall there is now pain attached to it. Interesting, huh?

Next, we find ourselves presented with the woman’s desire being for her husband and yet he will rule over her. I’ll be honest with you – I’m not sure how this works. Contrary to assumptions that have previously been made about me, I’m not someone who thinks women should be the head of a church and one of my ambitions is to be an epic wife one day. Yes, epic. Anyways, I’d like someone else’s thoughts on this particular passage because in today’s world of gender equality, it isn’t so clear.

A theory from me, though; the woman was created as a ‘helper’ for the man. Chapter 2 will tell us that. This isn’t an inferior position, but a complementary one. The Holman translation says in 2:20 that out of the livestock, birds and wild animals no ‘complement’ was found for Adam. Different, not inferior. Got that? Good. Perhaps the roles are shifted as a consequence of the fall. The woman’s desire changes and the man’s role changes. Maybe?

Genesis 3:16, friends. Not a happy way to begin, but there you have it. Pain in child birth and gender roles.

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