Question: "Why did God curse women with birth pains? Is it wrong to mitigate the curse by taking pain relievers?"
Answer: On that fateful day in the Garden of Eden when Eve chose to disobey God, she ate from the only tree that was forbidden (Genesis 3:3). Because Eve disobeyed, God said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children” (Genesis 3:16). God chose this particular judgment for woman as the natural consequence of sin entering the world.
In God’s original design of woman, she was without flaw, with an immortal body incapable of death (Romans 5:12). She was superb in every way and would have been utterly blameless in her maternal instincts and how she loved, taught, and cared for her children. Remember, God had already instructed Adam and Eve to “be fruitful,” so the curse was not in having children (Genesis 1:28). Without sin, Eve would been able to give birth without the extreme suffering that women experience today.
In Genesis 3:16, the original Hebrew word translated “pain” in many of our English Bibles is the word estev, which means “pain, hurt, toil, sorrow, labor, hardship.” The pain inflicted upon Eve was not only the physical pain of the birthing process, but also the emotional pain associated with raising children. And, of course, any woman who has had children can testify to the reality of both kinds of pain.
Some women believe that taking medication to mitigate the pain of the birthing process is a sinful bypassing of God’s curse. They would rather “take their punishment” than try to avoid God’s will. However, taking medicine is not wrong; a pain reliever to lessen headache pain, for example, is perfectly fine. To take medication to ease the pain of childbirth is not wrong, either; as a matter of fact, it’s a blessing from God that He would enable doctors to invent such a thing.
The apostle Paul told women how they can relieve some of the pain in childbearing: “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:15). “Will be saved” in this text is not referring to women escaping the eternal consequences of sin, because that would contradict the Bible’s teaching that salvation is by grace through faith alone (Romans 3:19-20). The word translated here as “saved” can also mean “to rescue, to preserve safe, to heal, to set free, or to deliver from” in a temporal sense. Paul is teaching women how to set themselves free from the worry and anxiety of childbearing. It is to “continue in faith” by living godly, Christ-centered lives. As a woman does so, her children will know Jesus Christ, have godly morals and copy her example. Although it’s true the woman “became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:14) and brings little sinners into the world, she can “redeem herself” by living righteously and raising a righteous generation. For a godly woman to know her children are safe and sound in the hands of a sovereign God is to know peace of mind and relief from fear.