Many people think that God was especially hard on Eve after she was deceived by the serpent in the garden. In fact hierarchists have determined that God was so hard on Eve by punishing her with a multitude of lashes for her sin, that some might get the idea that God punished the one who was deceived in a more severe way than the one who sinned willfully and without remorse. Others are so confused about what God said to Eve many think that sexuality is a necessary evil that came after Adam and Eve left the garden, since Eve experienced no pregnancy before they left the garden. Understanding exactly what God did say to Eve can help to remove the misconceptions.
God’s words to Eve gives us the reason why Eve did not get pregnant in the garden after her marriage to Adam. It would not have been because Adam and Eve did not have normal marital relations. After all God blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply and marital relations is the normal way of making that happen. However Adam and Eve were created to live without dying and in that original creation, Eve’s rate of conception was not the same as it was after she ate the fruit and became subject to death. Let’s look at the first part of God’s words to Eve in Genesis 3:16.
Gen 3:16 He said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception;… (LITV)
The first thing that we can notice about God’s words is that there is something missing from God’s communication to Eve that is there in His communication with both the serpent and with Adam.
To the serpent He said:
Gen 3:14 And Jehovah God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all beasts, and above every animal of the field. You shall go on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
And to Adam He said:
Gen 3:17 And He said to the man, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat from it, the ground shall be cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.
Notice that God never said to Eve, “Because you have done this…” Instead of giving her a punishment for what she has done, he gives her the consequences that are the natural fallout from her new mortality and the survival of humanity. We have no idea how long Eve’s fertile period was before she ate the fruit, but after she ate, God said that he would “greatly multiply” her conception. The Hebrew word hêrôn means pregnancy or conception. When God said that he will greatly multiply her pregnancy or conception, this means that Eve will have many more children much quicker than she was originally designed to have. No matter how long Eve was in the garden with Adam, it was not within the time for her much longer original cycle to conceive, but very quickly after she left the garden she conceived. It was God’s will to greatly multiply her conception because God wanted to keep humanity alive and still able to fill the earth even with mortality now a part of every human’s life. Because God greatly increased Eve’s conception there were two side effects. The first side effect for Eve is the Hebrew word ‘itstsâbôn which is often translated “sorrow” and it is the same word as God used for Adam when he says that “you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.” It means pain, labour, hardship, sorrow, toil. The increased labor or work for Eve will give her child after child after child to look after and her increased toil or work will now be necessary as the earth is to be filled with mortal people.
The second result of God’s change on the woman’s body to cause her to conceive in a “greatly” multiplied way, would be a painful childbirth which was not the original design of her conception and childbirth.
Gen 3:16 …you shall bear sons in sorrow,
The second word for “sorrow” is a different word. It is the Hebrew word ‘etseb and it means pain, hurt or toil.
Another thing to note is that God said “I will…” to Eve. God is the one who changed Eve’s conception.
Even though Eve’s pain would be from the effects of the change on her conception and her sorrow because of the number of children that she would have to bear, God did not directly curse anything on her behalf and God did not curse the woman either. God did bring a curse on the earth because of the man’s sin and God brought a curse on the animals because of what the serpent did, however there is not even one curse brought because of the sin of the deceived woman. Yet Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. in chapter 3 in CBMW’s book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood pronounces many punishments on the woman as a result of her falling into sin. On page 108 Ortlund writes:
But now the woman will suffer in childbirth. This is God’s severity for her sin.
Where does the Bible say that Eve will suffer for her “sin”? There is no doubt that the change that occurred in her body will cause her pain in childbirth, but to say that the pain is for Eve’s “sin” is going beyond the Word of God. Certainly God made it clear that the curses that comes into the world was because of Adam’s sin and because of the serpent’s act, however God never once said that the woman’s pain is because of her sin. We pronounce a judgment on Eve when we do this since God did not give her pain in judgment but his actions of greatly increasing her conception caused a change in her body.
Ortlund goes on to give the woman further punishment by God making a “decree” causing suffering for the woman in her marriage.
God’s decree is two fold… as a wife, the woman will suffer in relation to her husband. The exact content of her marital suffering could be defined in either of two ways. Either she will suffer conflict with her husband, or she will suffer domination by him.
So it is God’s desire that the woman be “punished” by suffering at the hands of her husband? So according to these statements, Ortlund appears to be saying that it is God who originates male domination. Ortlund has totally missed the boat by reading into the text instead of looking carefully to see what God actually said. God did not say that “I will cause the man to dominate you” nor did God say “I will cause you suffering in your marriage by causing conflict with your husband”. God said “He will….” This clearly identifies the source of the conflict. The source of the conflict is the will of the man. He will overrule her and overrun her by taking a position of rulership over her. Mr. Ortlund has taken God’s words of warning to Eve about the trials that await her outside the garden and he has removed the will of man and replaced it with the will of God. This is very poor exegesis and it completely twists the passage to make the continued sin of the man to be the punishment of God.
In a final knock against the woman, Ray Ortlund says that God gives the woman up. Ortlund sees Eve’s decision to accept the deception of the serpent as an act of insubordination towards the man – a sin that scripture never charges Eve with – and this act of insubordination causes God to give her up to her sin.
If this is the true sense, then, in giving the woman up to her insubordinate desire, God is penalizing her with domination by her husband.
Ortlund is saying that the woman sinned before she ate the fruit by having an attitude of insubordination towards her husband. In fact he implies that her insubordination was so bad that she usurped what belonged to the man alone.
Eve usurped Adam’s headship and led the way into sin.
Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that Eve “usurped” Adam’s headship. Nowhere does it say that Eve led the way into sin. In fact God blames Adam for leading the way into sin by “listening” to the voice of his wife and doing nothing to protect her as he was responsible for being the watchman as protector in the garden. For more information see my post called The Unfaithful Watchman.
What CBMW has done with Ray Ortlund’s writings on Genesis is a major rewrite on the Genesis account creating a rulership for Adam that did not also belong to Eve which she could “usurp”. By charging Eve with usurping Adam’s “headship” and special rulership, Ortlund brings a charge that it was actually Eve who led the way into sin when scripture clearly blames the one who sinned with knowledge as the one who is blamed for bringing sin into the world. Orlund also lists a number of punishments for the woman including male domination that scripture never lists as decrees of God against Eve.
I think that it is time that we stop the abuse of Eve that is done in the name of God. I think that we should name it for what it really is – unbiblical male domination disguised as biblical manhood.