Here’s a summary of what Genesis 3:16 does and does not say. It is a translation problem.
TRUE (does say). The Lord told the woman of two new actions. God would curse the Earth because of the man’s willful rebellion. As a result she along with the man would experience sorrowful toil. God would fulfill the promise/threat just given to the serpent tempter in 3:15. She would have conception of the Offspring Who would crush the tempter.
The first line of Genesis 3:16 truly translated into English should say, “I will multiply your sorrowful toil and your conception.” Or in paraphrase form it should say: I will surely bring to pass these two new things – sorrowful toil for you and conception for you.”
The next words should also make it clear that God does not repeat one of these thoughts. God begins words of instruction about how things are in her new world. “With effort you will bring forth children. Your loving desire is still for your husband but he rebelliously will rule over you.
NOT TRUE (does not say). Sadly, most translations give the wrong translation of the first words of Genesis 3:16!! They make it seem that God placed a curse on the woman or changed her when it came to bearing children in some way. They take God’s two new actions and transform it into a single hurtful action: I will greatly multiply your pains-in-childbirth. Then they make the next words seem to stress this bad action saying, They replace “effort” with “pain” incorrectly saying “With pain you will bring forth children.” Then, they inject this negativity into the last words of the verse. Her loving desire is made out to be a bad desire. His sinful rule is made out to be somehow to be a new ruling order God wanted to see instituted. As if she was the temptress or had rebelled on purpose.
Here’s a summary of what Genesis chapter 3 does and does not say.
– The serpent and the man each knowingly defy God. God’s words to them follow a common pattern.
– The woman sins after being deceived by the Tempter, whom Christ later calls the “Father of Lies.” God does not speak to her as to the other two.
– God does not say to the woman, “Because you…” as He does to the others.
– God does not utter any “curse” (‘arur in Hebrew), as He does for the other two. God does not curse her body, as He did the body of the serpent. He does not curse any thing because of her, as He will because of the man.
– God tells the woman about the “sorrowful toil” she will experience, as will the man, when they work the cursed soil.
– As for God’s creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), God commits to ensuring that she will conceive and that she will bear more than one child.
– The woman’s seed, or offspring, will include a coming Deliverer who will crush the woman’s enemy.
– God tells her how she, as a mortal mother, will now experience “effort” in her experience of childbirth.
– God observes that the woman still lovingly “desires” her husband.
– Up to this point, only God ruled over the humans.
– The humans were co-rulers over the rest of God’s created world.
– God had not told either human to rule over the other.
– The one who did this would be disobeying, breaking God’s order.
– One human would have to chose self rule and reject God’s rule.
– The one ruled by the other human would be faced with a terrible reality: “We each owe obedience to God, so how do I deal with this one who is trying to rule me instead?”
Extracted from Familiar “Leadership” Heresies Uncovered by an inside look at the Bible – the Eden Heresies, the Headship Heresies, the Legalist Heresies, by Bruce C. E. Fleming, pages 43-44.