This is very well-thought out and thought provoking @Jennifer_Judson. Thanks for expounding on it. I want to add one thing - though it goes along with what you are saying fairly well, especially being thankful that we live on this side of the cross .
The topic of Genesis 3:16 is a difficult one, and the way it has always been taught and translated has created a situation where women cannot comment against the commonly accepted translation without appearing to be doing exactly what it describes. In other words, it precludes any objection by women because…well, they have a vested interest in arguing against it, therefore, anything they say is suspect.
However, I’m happy to say that there are good men re-thinking the translations, and questioning the authenticity of the “way it’s always been taught.” Here is a link to a blog called My Only Comfort, written by Pastor Sam Powell, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and which explains what I have come to believe on the topic.
I no longer agree with the translation, or the explanation, that part of the curse is that our (women’s) desires would be contrary to our husbands. And I truly believe that this long-standing teaching of the church is responsible for a great deal of damage in marriages, families, communities, and society as a whole. It mis-identifies the curse and sets the stage for men to go into relationships with a mindset geared for conflict and domination, prepared to “rule over their rebellious, sinful wife” and force her into her proper place. It bolsters the prideful inclination that some men already have to “dominate” women and use them for their own desires, and it feeds the idea that men who are kind, loving, faithful, and steady are weak and submissive. It puts women into a place where, if they are godly, they are afraid to speak into their husband’s lives with genuine influence, and robs them of a voice and ability to speak up, establish boundaries, and resist abuse.
In all honesty, I don’t know of a single woman who has the tiniest desire to “dominate” her husband. Or who is looking for a man to dominate. Every one I know went into their relationship looking for a best friend, a companion, a “soul mate,” a partner, and protector who finds them beautiful, valuable, and precious. Read a romance novel, watch a “chick flick,” - women buy into them by the millions. Look at what women really desire. The idea that her desire is to “rule” to her husband isn’t based in reality at all, that I can see. Instead, I see women longing for a pre-fall relationship of value, dignity, partnership, total and absolute oneness and love, and unfortunately, Eve is the only woman who ever experienced that. Men cannot give us what we long for - only Jesus can. And the most difficult part of the curse is that our husbands not only cannot fully meet that need - they are instead inclined to rule over us. The partnership is lost. The perfect oneness is broken. A friend once said to me “Before you’re married, the loneliness isn’t so bad. There’s always the hope that your soul mate is out there somewhere. After you’re married, the loneliness is devastating, because it’s permanent. There isn’t hope for anything better. You begin to realize there is no such thing as a soul mate.”
What if we stopped enabling and encouraging those who are inclined toward abuse? What if women were taught that Jesus is the only soul mate that can fulfill us, and that we should look to him to fulfill our greatest needs, not men? What if we stopped teaching men that they are mandated to “rule” in their homes, but to serve as Jesus served? What if we stopped teaching that this bitterness and conflict is a godly concept? What if Christian marriage really was something to be held up and cherished, a picture of wholeness and companionship like that in the Song of Songs, as a light to the rest of the world? What if our counselors and pastors spoke into marriages and families in this way, instead of emphasizing conflict? I think we’d begin to see a difference.