16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Let’s face it, this is a hard verse, and it has implications that can be very hurtful. It has been used as the justification behind some truly atrocious customs, customs that have made a staggering number of women live as second-class citizens. And if all that oppression was solely the cruelty of man, that would be one thing…but does this verse suggest that it is also the will of God?!
Well, to answer that I consider my personal experiences, and I must conclude that such a notion is entirely incompatible with the God that I see loving my wife and daughter. The God that I see has just as much passion for them as He has for me and my son. He is remarkably devoted to them, He fiercely fights for them, He is near to them at every moment. I have never seen in Him a desire to subjugate them to another, but rather to free them.
So how do I resolve verses like these? I think the natural response would be to try and apologize for it, to give some interpretation that makes all of the inconvenient elements go away. And frankly yes, a number of such possible interpretations do occur to my mind, and perhaps one of those could be the correct interpretation….but also perhaps none of them are.
If I started to preach any one of those ideas as the truth, I would be putting words in God’s mouth, which I do not have any right to do. Only He can provide the perfect clarification, and thus far He has not provided that to me. And so I must conclude that I do not know how this verse is meant be read…but I do know that God loves his daughters, and that He loves them just as much as His sons.