This is a snippet from the book I’m writing:
To Adam God said,
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return. – Genesis 3:17-19
There are several things of moment in this passage. Firstly, the Lord tells Adam that he has listened to Eve in preference to God. The problem stems from the authority of words. Let me say here as forcibly as I can that in the end everything boils down to the interpretation of words and the authority we lend them. Adam gave less weight to God’s words than to those of Eve. What were God’s words? Let us remind ourselves what God said in Genesis 2:
…from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die. – Genesis 2:17
This is summarized in the middle of 3:17
…have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it.’
Hopefully you see that the Lord conflated the original prohibition but repeated it word for word? If God had been taken at face value and His words were given the gravity they ought to have had all would have been well. So we should never take our eyes off of what God is saying!
Another thing our passage reveals is that the “good earth” is cursed. It is not just the dirt of the garden of Eden which is cursed, but the whole planet. Again, this seems to give the lie to the theory of the world beyond the garden being a wilderness of lurking evil. Such a view almost makes this curse on the ground superfluous; more especially if one goes along with the view that “thorns and thistles” already existed outside Eden.
But bypassing this question, I am more interested in the deeper issue of the curse on the ground. By cursing the ground, from where everything grows and from which animals and men eat, the effects of the curse are inevitably transferred. Not that sin is transferred that way, but the curse on the earth is. And because our physiology often affects our emotional and bodily health, the cycle of detritus will continue until God acts to countermand it.
Moreover the passage is clear that the Lord cursed the ground because of (abur – ‘on account of’) the man. This is fitting as the earth was made for man. If man was to become the godless, lawless wretch that history portrays him to be, it would be quite strange if God had permitted him to live in a world unaffected by his sin and its consequences. Just like the Resurrection of Jesus Christ seems out of context within this world, so sinners running around in an otherwise unspoiled tranquil earthly paradise would be decidedly non-contextual.
 One is reminded of the way Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27.
 What I mean by saying this is not of course that the Resurrection never took place. Only that the reversal and then some of the human form to transcendent perfection befits another, higher, and better world than this one.