The Atlantic has a new article out on a change the ESV is making in their translation of Gen 3:16. From Rewriting the Biblical ‘Curse’ on Womankind:
Whereas the first half of that sentence formerly read “Your desire shall be for your husband,” it now reads, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband.” It appears to suggest that women naturally oppose their husbands’ desires, and thus are responsible for marital conflict.
It turns out that Dr. Wayne Grudem, cofounder of the CBMW was a major driver of this change:
The ESV translators are known to mostly affirm complementarianism, the view that men and women should have different roles in the family and church. They include Christian leaders such as the prolific theologian and writer J.I. Packer; the publisher Lane Dennis; and the theologian Wayne Grudem…
I’ve only read a little on the argument for the change here, so I did some digging. Grudem argued for this reading of Gen 3:16 in a chapter he wrote for Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood*
The word translated “desire” is an unusual Hebrew word, teshûqåh. What is the meaning of this word? In this context and in this construction, it probably implies an aggressive desire, perhaps a desire to conquer or rule over, or else an urge or impulse to oppose her husband, an impulse to act “against” him. This sense is seen in the only other occurrence of teshûqåh in all the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and the only other occurrence of teshûqåh plus the preposition ’el in the whole Bible. That occurrence of the word is in the very next chapter of Genesis, in 4:7. God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” ( NASB ). Here the sense is very clear. God pictures sin as a wild animal waiting outside Cain’s door, waiting to attack him, even to pounce on him and overpower him. In that sense, sin’s “desire” or “instinctive urge” is “against” him. 20
The striking thing about that sentence is what a remarkable parallel it is with Genesis 3:16. In the Hebrew text, six words are the same and are found in the same order in both verses. It is almost as if this other usage is put here by the author so that we would know how to understand the meaning of the term in Genesis 3:16. The expression in 4:7 has the sense, “desire, urge, impulse against” (or perhaps “desire to conquer, desire to rule over”). And that sense fits very well in Genesis 3:16 also. 21
Grudem further argues that to characterize this as sexual desire would be incorrect:
Some have assumed that “desire” in Genesis 3:16 refers to sexual desire. But that is highly unlikely because (1) the entire Bible views sexual desire within marriage as something positive, not as something evil or something that God imposed as a judgment; and (2) surely Adam and Eve had sexual desire for one another prior to their sin, for God had told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28), and certainly in an unfallen world, along with the command, God would have given the desire that corresponded to it. So “your desire shall be for your husband” cannot refer to sexual desire. It is much more appropriate to the context of a curse to understand this as an aggressive desire against her husband, one that would bring her into conflict with him.
Grudem offers the following in the notes for the chapter:
The understanding of Genesis 3:16 as a hostile desire, or even a desire to rule over, has gained significant support among Old Testament commentators. It was first suggested by Susan T. Foh, “What Is the Woman’s Desire?” in Westminster Theological Journal 37 (1975), 376-383. David Talley says the word is attested in Samaritan and Mishnaic Hebrew “with the meaning urge, craving, impulse” and says of Foh, “Her contention that the desire is a contention for leadership, a negative usage, seems probable for Gen. 3:16” (New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 vols., ed., Willem Van Gemeren, Vol. 4 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991], 341, with reference to various commentators).
*Not to be confused with the similarly titled book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which Piper and Grudem put together when they first created the CBMW. Also note that the excerpts I quoted are only pieces of what he wrote on the topic in the chapter. The link is to a pdf version of the book, and you can read the full section starting at the bottom of page 33 of the pdf file.