Oh what a hot button topic! Nursing in public. Can you imagine that some women actually go into public places, pull out their breasts and *gasp* nurse their babies?? Right there in front of God and everyone! Sometimes they don’t even cover up!! What if my children see that? Or worse, what if my husband sees it and it causes him to fall into lust? Can you imagine the nerve of some women?
….But wait. Wasn’t Jesus himself breastfed? History will tell you that he was. There are no mention of bottles in the Bible. They simply didn’t exist.
I realize that not all of my followers are Christians and some don’t believe in anything at all, and that is ok. I still support you in your breastfeeding journey. However, there are many breastfeeding mothers that are Christian, and the scathing glares, hateful comments, and all around lack of support even from their fellow Christians is appalling. This is an area that Christian breastfeeding mothers desperately need support in and providing support is why I am here.
I know the need from first hand experience. When I had my youngest son, I remember going to church for the first time after delivery. I did not take a bottle since I didn’t plan to give bottles. There was no need. I stayed at home with him and rarely left him for more than an hour or so. The first question that I was asked when I dropped him off in the nursery was not, “How are you feeling?” and there was no statement about how sweet the baby was. It was “Where is his bottle?” When I told them that I did not give bottles, you would have thought that I had brought in Satan himself for them to watch by the look on their faces. Oh the horror! They would have to alert me should he get fussy. Worse yet, they might have to see me nurse him! Another mother brought in her baby and told them to just give him a bottle should he get fussy. The nursery worker made a point to say “Now THAT’s a good mother!”, referring to the non-breastfeeding mother who was ok with them giving her child a bottle, suggesting that I was not a good mother because I preferred not to. This happened Sunday after Sunday…
Right then, my thoughts were, “If I can’t breastfeed my baby in my own church, among my “friends” and church family, then I have no chance out in the real world. This is supposed to be my support system. These are the people who pray for me when I’m sick. The people who go out of their way to speak to me at the ball fields or at the grocery store. My second family.
For that reason, I haven’t been back to my church since the birth of my daughter. I have been to other churches and have breastfed during service & without a cover without even a glance. I didn’t want to deal with it, I didn’t feel like seeing the unapproving glances at my percieved lust inducing act. But is seeing a breastfeeding mother lust inducing? How many times do we see men turn their heads at a pretty woman crossing the street or passing by them at the mall? Some men have fetishes with feet and women walk around in flip flops and open toed sandals every day. Should we ban those acts in public also? Don’t get me started on the things that men, Christian men, see on television.
The fact is, breasts are not sexual organs. Their sole purpose is for lactation. Whatever our culture has made out of them is NOT what they were intended for. They are made up of ducts and lobules. Breasts are not genitals. By medical definition, the sex organs are “any organ involved in sexual reproduction”. Guess what? You can make a baby without any involvement of the breasts! As a matter of fact, without muscle tissue, sex, conception, and birth would be impossible! However, breasts have ZERO muscle tissue in them!
But just in case you’re not convinced that breasts aren’t sexual organs, perhaps this quick lesson in breast anatomy & physiology might be helpful.
So now that we have established that breasts are not sexual organs, let’s talk about why women should not be forced to “use discretion” while breastfeeding. I’m not saying that women shouldn’t cover if they choose. I’m saying that women should not feel shunned when they don’t. Women should be able to feed their babies whenever they get hungry & without disapproving comments or disgusted looks . Even at church. After all, all throughout the Bible, there are unashamed and beautiful references to breastfeeding. There are no references to mothers being required to cover. Breastfeeding is seen as the normal and natural thing that it is. But not only that…
New King James Version (NKJV)
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
Did you hear that? Blessings. According to the word of God, breasts are blessings.
They bring life sustaining nourishment and in 1 Peter 2:2 2
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby
we are even told to be like newborn babies. We are to crave spirituality as a baby craves his mothers milk! How profound is it that loving and desiring God is compared to a newborns desire for his mothers breast?!
In Joel, we are told to gather…
King James Version (KJV)
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
Gather everyone for the glory and worshiping of our Lord! Even nursing babies!!! No mention of pumping a bottle for church. No mention of bringing a cover for church so that the elders, bridegroom, and children won’t see breasts! Just gather and bring the nurslings! Wow! I can just see them all gathered eager to worship The Lord, babies happily latched onto the breasts, and can’t help but think that if some Christians held on to verses like these as they do others, we might not be having this conversation at all.
In 1 Thessalonians we are told
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
which indicates that a breastfeeding mother gives her child the ULTIMATE gentleness. Why else would it be compared? After all, this particular chapter is telling us that we are Gods glory and joy.
Christians should refrain from shunning breastfeeding mothers. Not only should that, but we should support it. We should embrace it even when it isn’t done with our definition of discretion. Just as Jesus himself would have, as indicated in the word of God. Every single reference to breastfeeding in the Bible, and there are many, is written without any shame or stigma. If our ultimate goal as Christians is to live and behave as Jesus would, this is one area that will be easy to achieve that goal.