In this post I want to discuss the curse placed on men and women at the fall. For an older post only on Original Sin please click HERE.
Throughout history there is a broad distinction between men and women as it pertains to production and distribution. I think there is a tie in to scripture on this and I want to explore that idea. Also I want to address the false approach that many take with regards to the curse. It’s not primarily a law we fulfill so much as it is a burden placed upon us.
To get started, I’d like to point out that the curse of the fall spreads out to all humanity. It wasn’t something that God just placed on Adam and Eve. Simply stated, if your flesh can die then you are impacted by the curse.
‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. ‘ Romans 5:12-14 NASB
The Curse on Man
‘Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19 NASB
The mistake that I think gets made by many is to read the curse in Genesis 3 as prescriptive rather than descriptive. The curse isn’t something you have to follow for it to be true. It’s a curse that’s placed upon you. In this case, the curse on man is we have to work to survive.
If you don’t do that you will die. Not only this, but the planet itself that presumably once was designed to work for you is now working against you. Nature itself has been refashioned into a weapon that works against your own survival and those you provide for. Although there are implications for everyone else, God certainly intended man to bear this curse as evidence by the laws given for men to follow. For an exposition on that I recommend my post titled “Gender Roles“. By design, curse, and rule the intent was for man to bear production.
The way I see it, even with a first world context after the cross this curse is still as much a reality as it ever was. By his grace God has permitted means by which we can mitigate some of this curse, but such things only prove the existence of the curse by their necessity. By nature of the fact that we even wish to mitigate it means we concede to its existence and burden.
Should a man be lazy and not provide for his family ultimately the curse works against him in his own bloodline. If your family doesn’t thrive the results are self evident, in the most extreme case you end up being the last leaf or close to it on your family tree. Family is the only thing you take with you to heaven so the results of such sins are eternal even if you don’t go to hell.
The Curse on Woman
‘To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”‘ Genesis 3:16 NASB
This is the one that gets quoted by feminists left, right, and center for why they don’t agree with the Bible. According to this analysis I found online Patriarchy and Women’s Subordination: A Theoretical Analysis (Pages 3-6) it appears that feminists generally agree that patriarchy predates recorded human history.
“According to the radical feminists (Brownmiller 1976, Firestone 1974), patriarchy preceded private property. They believe that the original and basic contradiction is between the sexes and not between economic classes. Radical feminists consider all women to be a class. Unlike the traditionalists, however, they do not believe that patriarchy is natural or that it has always existed and will continue to do so.” – Pg 5
It goes without saying that if you believe something to be older than private property then you believe it is going to be very old indeed. She likely considers this older than a Christian would the time of Abraham for example.
“According to Lerner (1989), patriarchy was not one event but a process developing over a period of almost 2500 years (from approximately 3100 BC to 600 BC) and a number of factors and forces that were responsible for the establishment of male supremacy as we see it today. Gerda Lerner (1989), begins by emphasizing the importance of women history in women’s struggle against patriarchy and for equality. According to her, patriarchy, in fact, preceded the formation of private property and class society.” – Pg 6
They tend to have a wide array of theories as to how “the patriarchy” came to be if you read the rest of the document. The notion of such things going back to creation or coming from God would be antithetical to their beliefs so I wouldn’t expect them to actually go in that direction. However, I would simply like to point out that Genesis 3:16 seems to offer an explanation consistent with their observations of a pre-historic patriarchy.
What do I mean by that? I mean that God said man would rule over woman as a curse and that this reality has colored all of human history. Such things have not been limited by time period or geography and any exceptions I’ve seen offered only prove the rule rather than contradicting it.
So by nature of the fact that secular feminists spill so much ink and energy fighting “the patriarchy? means that by their actions they concede that the curse is a reality even if they don’t internally agree on the mechanism. How I see it, even if they succeed in mitigating that curse after the cross with the sword of government and first world conveniences all they would prove is that God’s grace has permitted a societal context where some effects of the curse can be at least temporarily mitigated.
If a woman flees from this curse, like man the punishment is received in her very bloodline. Bearing children is a particular work of a woman’s calling. A failure to procreate is a very definitive end to your line on this earth. And that is a self evident curse on anyone whether or not they agree with it. A good example of this would be the Shakers, as of 2017 there are only two living at this time. That at least is an effective case study on what happens when a group of people adhering to a tradition cease to breed. Before too long they cease to exist.
Just wrapping up these ideas and putting the pieces together what strikes me is that those who carry their curse burden head on seem to evade the more permanent consequences.
What do I mean by that? I mean that a man who produces and a woman who distributes is more likely to have a healthy family that passes down to the next generation. They have plenty of plates around the table and lots of stockings over the fireplace at Christmas. They have someone to care for them when they are old, remember them when they are gone, and to share memories with in heaven. Those who flee the curse are cut off by nature in whole or in part. I just find that to be a compelling and fearful idea.
Does this mean it is wrong for a woman to work and provide for her family too? No I don’t think so. Like I said at the outset, the curse should be read descriptively not prescriptively. In these cases I just think that means she is choosing to bear both curses. That would explain why many women who choose to do this are burdened with the stress of racing their biological clock as they establish their career. These women have my sympathy and admiration in such cases, not my scorn.