Was It Wrong for God to Multiply Women's Pain in Childbearing? Gen 3:16

In Genesis 3:16, God multiplies the pain of women in childbearing. Was it wrong for God to do this? Learn the solution to this supposed problem.
Bible "contradictions"
Is God good?

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Quick answer

  1. Adam and Eve sinned, and one consequence of sin is pain.
  2. Adam, as the "head" of all mankind, represented the entire human race in his sin. This is the doctrine of original sin.
  3. We have no grounds upon which to call the doctrine of original sin unfair.

The argument

Some argue that God is not fair to multiply the pain for women in childbirth in Genesis 3:16, especially since it was Eve who sinned. Why should every woman after Eve need to experience this curse also? Here is what the verse says:

Genesis 3:16 - I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children...

The answer

One consequence of sin is pain

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit, and one consequence of sin is pain. Therefore, it is just for Eve to experience pain in childbirth because of her sin.

Adam was the "head" of all mankind, so every human inherits a sin nature

The Bible teaches that Adam was the "head," or the representative, of all mankind, so when he sinned, every human after him would inherit a sin nature. Romans 5:12 says this:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...

This is known as the doctrine of original sin. So, because Adam sinned, all humans, including all women, are now also guilty of sin, and one of the consequences of this sin is pain in childbearing.

Original sin is not unfair

Our instinctive reaction against the doctrine of original sin is that it is unfair. However, this is because we are evaluating God's decrees by human standards, which are flawed, and not by God's standards, which are right.

Original sin is not unfair simply because it is part of God's will and decree. God created Adam to be the "head," or representative, of all mankind, and we have no grounds upon which to object against this decision of God.

Paul responds to those who would object against God's decree by writing this:

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"

In other words, God has the right to make Adam our representative head simply because He is the creator and we are not.


God causing all women to have pain in childbearing because of the sin of Adam and Eve is not immoral because sin has consequences and because Adam was the representative head of all mankind. This means that every human after Adam would inherit a sin nature, and part of this sin nature involves women experiencing pain in childbirth.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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