Some commentators have observed that God cursed the serpent. He cursed the ground, but he did not curse Adam and Eve. In an Old Testament apocryphal book, 2 Enoch 31:7-8 we read, “But I cursed ignorance, but what I had blessed previously, those I did not curse, I cursed not man, nor the earth, nor other creatures, but man’s evil fruit, and his works.” In a sense that’s correct, yet you cannot avoid the consequences that God pronounced on them for their rebellion. Some have even suggested that the monthly period women endure which is sometimes referred to as “the curse,” is part of the pain and discomfort associated with childbearing.

It’s the second part of the curse, if I may call it that, on the woman in Genesis 3:16 that is more difficult. It says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I think there are two possible ways to see this, and it is related to the verb that’s translated in the King James Version as “desire.” This is the most common translation of the verb. However, in the Song of Songs 7:10 it’s used to refer to sexual attraction and desire. It says, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” One preacher says, “the woman’s pleasure in sex serves as a gracious blessing to offset the preceding curse of pain in childbirth.” But then the same word is used to refer to sexual desire shows up later in Genesis where God addresses Cain after he has murdered his brother and explains that it’s sin that “desires” to have him. Genesis 4:7 says, “Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” This is not a sexual desire! It means to control, master, dominate. Her desire will be to control, master, and dominate her husband. But because of the physical differences in the physical strength. The man will always win that battle when he forces his will upon her. One writer said “This seems to be a result of the fall and, God help us, males’ sinful nature has taken it to the extreme. Jealousy, rape, divorce and godless dominance have characterized mankind’s sexual drive! We have become like the animals but with the problem of ego added to sexual desire!”[1]

I agree with Steve Cole that it’s hard to decide between these two views. He says, “I find it hard to decide between the two views because both have their strengths and both express truths taught elsewhere in Scripture. If the second view is correct, …It means that godly women must now fight the tendency to dominate their husbands, and godly men must fight the tendency to dominate their wives. Both must learn to love one another in the context of the proper roles ordained by God.”[2] Paul exhorts wives to submit honorably to their husbands “out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) Husbands submit to your wives needs and “love her as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Isaiah 26:8 lays out what we should truly desire. It says, “Yes Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for you, for your name and renown are the desire of our souls.”

[1] Utley, Robert James. 2001. How It All Began: Genesis 1–11. Vol. Vol. 1A. Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.