My wife and I had our first child this weekend. Wow. It’s incredible that something experienced by so many people can still be so thrilling and unreal when it comes your turn in line. The fact that billions of people have done this billions of time since the beginning of history doesn’t take away from its awe-inspiring magnificence.
Yet prior to the delight of holding our new son there was, of course, the agony of labor. I’ve never seen my wife undergo such torture. Tears filled my eyes on multiple occasions as I saw the pain and exhaustion in her own. I kept thinking about Genesis 3:16, where pain in childbearing is pronounced as a part of the curse on a fallen world. With each new cry or wail, I wished I could do something about it–interfere, make it stop, or, if possible, take that burden upon myself. Perhaps that was a taste of how Christ felt on behalf of His Bride when He “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
It got me thinking about the curse, children, and how our generation gets their correlation wrong.
First, consider that the majority of the curse’s effects are not bad things but rather good things gone wrong. The curse did not simply introduce newly created terrors–it negatively altered what was already created. That which God had originally declared “good” was now distorted.
For example, the curse created a conflict in marital roles (Gen. 3:16). Although feminists claim such roles were a result of the Fall and not a part of God’s original design, Genesis 2 clearly shows Adam as the head (vs. 15, 19) and Eve as his helpmeet (vs. 18) even before the Fall. Complementarianism is the design of God’s perfect creation, rooted in the Trinity itself (1 Cor. 11:3), and not a consequence of sin. What the Fall did produce is a perversion of these roles where on one spectrum a husband might abuse his authority, or on the other spectrum a wife might nag and manipulate her husband.
Another example is God’s curse upon the ground. The thorny soil would make work difficult for Adam, and simple necessities would now have to be earned through blood, sweat and tears (Gen. 3:17-19). This might make us think of work as something unfortunate in and of itself, as though the original ideal for Eden was kicking back under a shady tree and eating easy food all day long. Again, wrong. Work was God’s original responsibility for man (Gen. 2:15). What the Fall did produce was difficulty in work, which would either produce frustration for the hard worker or laziness in someone who wasn’t up for the challenge.
Neither of these consisted of inherently bad things, but rather the perversion of good things. When we experience the curse in our daily lives we experience what happens when God’s good design gets skewed.
Now, what does all this have to do with babies? Because just as we might be tempted to see marital roles and work in and of themselves as negative, we live in a culture that thinks about kids the same way. It’s not just the process of having children that’s considered cursed–it’s the children themselves.
Many of my fellow millennials don’t like the idea of having kids for a variety of reasons, such as not wanting to financially support another person, not wanting the responsibility of caring for another person, and not wanting a hindrance to their career or lifestyle. One author even proudly called themselves “selfish” because of how highly they value their personal “freedom.” Translation: kids get in the way of enjoying life. You know, kind of like a curse.
If you’re unlucky enough to catch a strain of this crippling virus, well, fear not, because the curse can be reversed at a local doctor’s office. Children are a sickness, easily remedied with an abortive antidote. They’re so much of an inconvenience that tearing apart their little limbs is totally justified. No big deal.
That’s why abortionists at the University of North Georgia threw a rally earlier this year where baby-shaped cookies were ripped apart while participants laughed and wrote notes such as, “My vagina is too pretty to let a fetus crawl out.” Then there’s the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overrule Texas’s abortion regulations because it was an “undue burden” on women who wanted an abortion. A burden? You mean, kind of like a curse? Apparently abortion is the blessed messiah come to free women from the bane of children.
And, of course there’s Barack Obama’s infamous statement back in 2008 that if his daughters “make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” So babies are a punishment. You mean, like a curse? Perhaps that’s why Obama also said abortion provides women the opportunity to “fulfill their dreams.” Children are the great hindrance that prevent meaningful lives. If you could just get that cursed obstacle out of the way then countless women could enter their own private Eden.
I get it. A baby is a game-changer. And some of the results are less than pleasant. I admit, throughout my wife’s labor I wrestled with some rough questions: Was it fair that she had to suffer so much? Could I ever stand to watch her undergo this agony a second or third or fourth time? Now, two days later, I still see the birth taking its physical and emotional toll on her. I get how the curse could overshadow the value of the blessing.
It’s easy to look at the difficulties involved and think the item (or, in this case, the person) in question must be the problem. It’s easy to see domestic abuse and think male headship is the problem. It’s easy to see thorns and think work is the problem. It’s easy to see painful labor, stretch marks, extra expenses, the loss of personal freedom, or anything else you can name, and think children are the problem. But they’re not.
Quite to the contrary, Scripture calls them a gift from God (Gen. 1:28; 33:5; Ps. 127:3-5; Mk. 10:13-16). I can already testify to that truth. The curse of Genesis 3 reveals that much of God’s good design is still there, it just takes some extra work. A good marriage requires a lot of sacrifice, but it’s worth it. Working for a living can be exhausting, but it’s worth it. Children can take a physical and emotional toll, but they’re worth it. As Christ said, even though the agonies of childbirth as miserable, they result in great joy (Jn. 16:21-22). We must not confuse the curse with the results of the curse.
Finally, isn’t it incredible that our ultimate Deliverer from the curse would be born of a woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4); that He came by means of the cursed “birth pains and…agony of giving birth” (Rev. 12:2)? Even though all “creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22), the day will come when the labor will be over, the glory of Christ’s full kingdom will have arrived, and it will all be worth it.
The birth of a child can certainly remind us that all is not right with the world. But it can also remind us of the Seed of the Woman who came into the world, who bore the curse on our behalf, and who will someday return to make all things new. As we await that day, let us patiently bear the temporary effects of this fallen world and rejoice in the blessings God has given. Especially children.