By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
According to the UN, there are approximately 385,000 babies born every day into this world. If you do some math that’s about 140 million babies born every year, or more simply about 267 every minute. This means that every minute there are potentially 267 women cursing Eve and wondering why God caused Eve and all women to experience pain in childbirth?
I must admit as a man, I have experienced the joy of childbirth because I have two children, but I cannot say I have experienced the pain of childbirth, because I didn’t give birth to them. For this reason, neither I nor any other male for that matter can write this from a place of empathy, because I have not felt what any woman has experienced in childbirth. I will simply do my best to answer this question why did God cause Eve and all women to experience pain in childbirth?
Why Did God Cause Eve, and All Women, to Experience Pain in Childbirth?
“To the woman he said,
‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children…’” (Genesis 3:16a).
Let me begin with an answer to this question that you may not find all that satisfying. This verse in Genesis does not give us a complete answer as to why God increased pain in childbirth. Here is what we do know: The increase in pain was a response for sin. However, we must look closer at these words in Genesis 3, to gain better understanding.
When you look at this word in the original Hebrew language, some may argue the connotation is not of childbirth going from no pain to severe pain. The language suggests the experience of childbirth going from some pain to increased pain. While God caused Eve and all women to experience pain at childbirth because of Eve’s sin, it could also suggest there was always some level of sensation attached to the birthing process. However, because of Eve’s sin, the pain was intensified.
Whether that provides more comfort or provides a better answer I am not sure.
A Different Look at the Pain in Childbirth
Let’s consider another angle to look at this question of why did God cause Eve and all women to experience pain in childbirth? The website Answers in Genesis gives an interesting perspective on this verse. Here is what they say:
“There is physical pain in the actual birthing process (most mothers can attest to this) and mental anguish (e.g., sorrows) associated with having children in a sin-cursed world.
Consider that Eve not only went through the pain of childbearing during delivery, but she also had to endure the loss of Abel, her own son, slain by his own brother. Consider also Mary, who saw her son Jesus die on the cross. So, there are two prongs to this, and, of course, seeing one of your children die is an extreme example. But it would be rare, if not impossible task, to find a mother who has not seen her children suffer in some manner, from starvation to sickness, cuts, scrapes, and so on.”
What Answers In Genesis is pointing out is the emotional suffering attached to giving birth. I believe this is a valid point highlighting that the pain in childbirth does not just reflect on the process of birthing your child, but can be included in the process of raising your child.
I will speak as a parent here and from personal experience. One of the most painful experiences as a parent is seeing your child suffer and not being able to do anything to stop it. I cannot say for certain this is what this verse means or what God meant when he said this, but I think it is worth considering.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel
The Pain Is Not a Curse
One thing that is important to note is that while God cursed the serpent and he cursed the ground that Adam would have to toil, he did not curse Eve. This suggests while God caused Eve to experience pain in childbirth, he was not pronouncing a curse on Eve.
There is no curse in giving birth to children. While the pain in childbirth is a reminder of the sinful decision made by Adam and Eve, it is not a curse (even though some women may want to curse in the middle of giving birth). We see from the Scriptures that even through the pain in childbirth, it is soon replaced by great joy when that child enters the world.
Could the Pain Remind Us of Our Redemption?
In researching for this article, I did not see this thought anywhere, so I want to pose the question. Is it possible the pain in childbirth could in some ways be a reminder of our redemption? It is interesting to note that the salvation experience is equated to the birthing process. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 that no one could see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. While the outcome of being born again produces great joy, like natural childbirth does, the process to being born again caused Jesus great pain. Again, like natural childbirth does for the woman. Consider this verse in Hebrews for a moment:
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus carried in his body the pain of sin to the cross. He did this so he could provide a way for you and me to be born again. As he was enduring the pain of the cross, he was at the same time thinking about the joy of the result. While a mother experiences pain in the birthing process, the joy of the newborn overshadows the pain. I know this is not an exact equivalent, neither am I trying to make one. However, is it possible that instead of thinking of the experience of childbirth in terms of judgment, that we look at that experience as a reminder of the sacrifice Christ made to give us life?
The pain a woman carries in her body producing the ultimate joy of bringing life into the world is a small parallel to the pain Jesus carried in his body to bring a new life into the kingdom. Just wondering if that is good food for thought.
As you can see this is a question that has one simple answer – the increased pain is a judgment of sin, but beyond that there are many complex ones. Ultimately the answer to this question, beyond it being the result of sin, falls into the category of things we just won’t know for certain on this side of eternity. We can know and see what God did, but it does not seem we have the ability in this instance to know all the reasons why.
Finally, for every mother who has endured the pain of childbirth to bring life into the world, I know it was not easy. All I can say is thank you. I will include my wife, who is mother to our two kids, and my mother in this thank you. The pain was great but if you are like most mothers, when you see your children you would say it was worth it all.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tetra Images
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.