The Curse in Genesis 3 is universal, covering the entire expanse of human concerns because it binds the whole universe. If nothing else, we know that time-space limitations affect only the fallen plane of existence. We were not designed for this, and a part of us knows it. The tension between what we experience in this fallen state against what something deep inside tells us is our birthright is sufficient notice that we need redemption. We know instinctively we are in prison; the question is how to deal with that.
Note how the imagery in the Bible indicates the fundamental nature of each gender’s curse. This highly symbolic and abbreviated mention points out the answer to our fundamental needs. The preacher then compares that with our broad social awareness and tries to show the path out of the Curse. We exit this life triumphant when we have done all that humans can do with God’s illumination and power in the revelation of His character. So the question before us is how we — male and female — handle the mess we are in when born under this curse.
Wallowing in the Fall is an answer. It is the answer chosen by most of humanity, to one degree or another, and the very foundation of Western Civilization. Ours is the anomaly in human existence; all other civilizations took for granted that there was an escape and that it was worthy of our highest aspirations and efforts. This is why I say that discovering universal moral truth is the only proper focus of human searching. The West is the first to avoid that question entirely, striving only to make the most of our fallen existence by asserting forcefully that this all we could possibly have. Whatever passes for higher aspirations in the West is just a better version of our fallen state.
The Curse assumes the worst in the sense that, since Adam and Eve would not stick to their callings, they were not permitted the instinctive knowledge of moral truth. Adam started out in union and communion with nature, able to manage as God’s representative by His moral authority. Since he refused to guard that treasure, it was taken from him and he was left to face nature with barely enough leisure to consider his folly. But it was enough, because God knows our capabilities — He designed us. Our whining is entirely unjustified. While we are here in this world, we can seize upon at least a taste of eternal redemption by embracing the revelation of God. For men, a little more love means a little less sweat. Fundamental to a man’s redemption is learning the empathy that reconnects us with the universe as a living moral entity. We as men are the ones guilty for not guarding that communion; we are the ones who brought the universe under the Curse. It only fights us because we don’t love it enough to sacrifice and redeem it. God gives us a chance to begin the long journey walking back up the path to Eden and redemption of all things.
For a woman to find redemption is learning to negotiate with her man. Eve made an executive decision way out of her reach. Her damned lazy husband didn’t rise up to stop her, which is why the fundamental question for a woman is whether her man is strong enough to restrain the wildness of her weaker nature. His redemption is getting off his butt and taking charge; she’ll both love and hate that. It requires empathy from him to bear her confusion. It takes empathy from her to see what drives him and make the most of it. He offers something powerful enough to justify her surrender; she surrenders and commits in wild abandon. This is high moral truth.
There are exceptions for individuals in both women and men, but our human society was meant to be a collection of moral household dominions. The whole structure of Ancient Near Eastern feudalism is our human nature; this is what we are wired for and it is the path to redemption. The woman cannot take charge and assert her unique approach over the man’s. She is supposed to be somewhat materialistic in the concern for keeping life possible through structure and care. She is supposed to be distracted by caring for the kids and what human life requires. She is not supposed to assume that her instinct is God, but is from God as an input into the whole mission of God’s glory. She is wired to seek a mate who puts God’s glory first, and to commit herself to that mission. It’s all about the mission, and the man is God’s chosen steward for all final decisions. A woman’s redemption is negotiating with a man’s tendency to cast aside everything in pursuit of his vision. He cannot do it without her because he’ll discard essentials due to the narrowness of his vision. He needs reminding of the costs of having to replace essentials that an emergency might justify dropping.
Men are supposed to exclude certain considerations and allow their women to handle those things, but they are also supposed to include her by including her concerns, as well. Men are supposed to know that they cannot enslave their wives, but must accept her wholly, not stripped of inconvenient free will and aspirations as if she were a mere extension of his will. His empathy is how he does that. Her empathy is remembering that God put the man in charge, and he is not a mere extension of her nest-building imperative. Thus, the ultimate redemption of woman is negotiation, not demand. She is not an independent entity offering only contract services; she is owned and owns. It’s not about rights but feudal dominion. She is on the team and teamwork is the redemptive atmosphere. The struggle to preserve the union of two lives within the demands of the mission calling is the human ideal. It is the path to recovering universal morality — this is sexual identity.
What a man and woman negotiate in their division of labor in their own Garden of Eden is subject only to God’s approval. There are broad generalities, but it’s really down to how the man and woman want to conduct their household. From that basis, they then negotiate with their broader community. Ideally, their primary considerations would be within a faith community, but we all know how likely that is in our broken and profligate evil atmosphere in the West. It’s just barely possible in the ebb and flow of human events that we can build small communities of faith, but they only work so well as they reflect the proper overlap between fundamental moral principles and what’s literally possible.
Yes, we have to consider the prevailing culture and how we balance between avoiding contamination while intruding on their awareness with our faith. Sexual identity is tied up in all of that, because if you don’t understand the broader vision, you cannot understand the particulars.