For first-time mums, the fear of the pain of childbirth can be overwhelming. Everyone has seen those movies. You know, the ones with the women shrieking and screaming because of the pain of it all?
Here’s some free advice: if you haven’t had a baby, don’t watch those movies.
Part of the problem are the translations that give far more pain that the original ever intended (the NIV linked to at the top of this page is a good example). And part of the problem is that we have come to accept the idea that childbirth should be painful.
But Young’s literal translation takes out the pain, leaving sorrow instead:
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman He said, `Multiplying I multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow dost thou bear children,
And think about it from Eve’s point of view. They are just about to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden, from a life with no toil or trouble to a life filled with hard work:
Genesis3:17– Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
Who wouldn’t feel the pain of regret and sorrow, bringing children into this new world and raising them into a life of painful toil?
There is an argument that this curse from God was also a straightforward explanation of what would happen next. Adam and Eve lost the perfect existence that knew no evil; instead, wanting to know both good and evil.
We still see the consequences. How many times have we heard people, in the modern western world, talk of their fear of bringing a child into ‘this’ terrible world? Or what about the sorrow and pain associated with raising difficult and wayward children? And yes, the pain that many, not all, women experience in childbirth.
The answer, as always, is Jesus. If we know we can trust Jesus to help us raise children, then surely women can trust Him through childbirth.
This article has more to say: The Curse on the Woman, Part 1
And finally, have you ever heard anyone argue that work must be painful for men because God said it in Genesis? Thought not.