Genesis 3:14-19 – God Announces the Consequences for Human Sin
SummaryGod announces the consequences that will now ensue in view of what the principals in the story (the snake, Eve, Adam) have done.
Most scholars would say that Genesis 3:14-19 is descriptive (of what happens in the wake of sin) rather than prescriptive (divinely established orders for all future time). All three principals reap the consequences of their own deeds in terms of their primary roles in that culture; God sees to the connection between deed and effect. Every aspect of creaturely life is touched: marriage and sexuality; work and food; an increase in birth pains; death. But the consequences of sin are not put in place by God for all time (see, for example, the fall of Jerusalem). And so every effort can and should be made to relieve the toil, pain, patriarchy, and negative effects on nature ("thorns and thistles").
Much of this "relief" has long been underway: labor-saving devices in farming, anesthesia in childbirth, efforts to make the relationship between men and women more equal. It is especially remarkable that the "rule" of the man over the woman (3:16) is seen to be an effect of sin. Hence, such a reality stands over against God's creational intentions for their relationship (see 1:26-27). The increasingly positive effects of efforts to diminish the impact of patriarchy on male-female relationships is thus in tune with what God desired for them when they were created. How best to do this is an ongoing question for all Bible readers.