Is Breastfeeding a Moral Issue? [The Women’s Issues Series]

Motherhood, Podcast Episodes

In the third segment on women’s issues on Verity podcast, we are discussing the controversy around breastfeeding: Why is it that this has been raised to the level of a moral issue? What does Scripture say about it, and how has this played out in history?

Breastfeeding is just one example, though, of a greater issue: The guilt and shame of the mommy wars. TRANSCRIPT BELOW.

In this episode:

  • What the Bible says about breastfeeding
  • My personal story of low supply
  • A brief history of breastfeeding and “breast is best”
  • How the Fall affects feeding our children
  • The role of legalism and idolatry in the mommy wars
  • Misapplication of the theology of suffering —> asceticism (more on this in the Motherhood episode)

Listen Now!

Audio Transcript

Welcome to the third episode in our Women’s Issues series, friends. Man, this is a complicated episode, and a really personal one for me to talk about, maybe even a little surprising for you because it’s so insanely specific. Like, how come breastfeeding is a theological issue? Well, you might be surprised just how much theology is involved in navigating this and the implications of it, especially in today’s world. Now, we’re going to get into that and the Mommy Wars and theology behind the Mommy Wars, specifically over breastfeeding and breast is best. But before we get to that, I wanted to talk about some verses that address breastfeeding. 

The reason I chose to put this episode in this series, it actually wasn’t originally in my plan, but since I am currently breastfeeding my three-week-old, and thinking a lot about this, I thought, “You know what? This is a very specific issue to women, this is a woman’s issue, and Scripture really does speak to it.” What really turned me to choosing this as the next episode, was not just the fact that the Bible speaks to it, but also how much shame and guilt I have experienced in regard to this issue. Anywhere, we experience shame and guilt, the gospel speaks to that area. I know that not everyone has had the same experience as me regarding breastfeeding, but regardless, I think that this episode may be very helpful for you in navigating the theology that is underlying many of our conversations around this issue, and others that come up in the Mommy Wars today. Even if you are not a mom, I think this will be helpful to you maybe for the future or for friends of yours who are moms and have kids, it may be something that you can use in your conversations. Also, I think there are some theological principles you can take away, especially surrounding the theology of suffering, that may help you in navigating this on a larger scale. 

The verses in the Bible that talk about nursing are actually pretty plentiful. There are quite a few verses that talk about breastfeeding. Now, in that day and age, the day and age in which the Bible was written, breastfeeding was the primary way of feeding a baby. They could not preserve cow’s milk or goat’s milk long enough for it to be safe for babies, they didn’t have refrigerators. If you could not feed your baby, you would have to get a wet nurse, you’d have to get someone who could breastfeed the baby for you. We’ll get to that in a minute because it does actually play a role in this conversation. But the Bible talks about breastfeeding pretty extensively and I actually have some verses I wanted to read you guys to give you a picture of what Scripture says. 

The first thing we see regarding breastfeeding and nursing in Scripture is that it is often used as a symbol for blessing or abundance. We see this in a Genesis 49:25, where it says, and this is a specific blessing from Jacob to his sons, he says, “The Almighty will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.” This is a blessing of abundance and fertility, that’s what he is pointing to here. 

Okay, another one that we see is an Isaiah 66. This is a longer passage where God is talking about Jerusalem and he pictures Jerusalem as a woman, as a mother. He says, “Rejoice with Jerusalem. Be glad for her, all you who love her. Rejoice and enjoy, all you who mourn over her, that you may nurse and be satisfied by her consoling breast, and you may drink deeply with the light from her glorious abundance.” He then goes on to say that, “You, Israel, shall nurse and be carried upon her hip and bounced upon her knees.” Basically, Jerusalem is a source of abundance and love and peace and comfort, just like a mother is to a nursing child. In contrast to this, if we go forward to Hosea, in Hosea, we actually see the opposite, where as a curse for evil behavior and sin, God uses the symbolism of dry breasts as a separation. There is no sustenance, there is no abundance. It’s a symbol in Hosea of the opposite.

There are other ways that nursing and breastfeeding is a symbol in Scripture, and that is as the love of a mother. We see this in Isaiah 40:11. If you’re following along with me, this is a verse many of us know, it says, “God will tend His flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” This is specifically in context, talking about a shepherd, but also kind of symbolizing, like a mother, like a mother would carry a child at her breast, at her bosom. He’s carrying these lambs at His bosom. It’s a symbol of that motherly love. 

Also, in Isaiah 49:15, we see God saying that Israel,

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb, even these may forget?” Yeah, I will not forget you.”

He’s basically saying, it’s impossible for a woman to forget her nursing child. If she forgets, then I would never forget you, in contrast. This sense of the nursing child, the breastfeeding of the child is a symbol of the love of the mother. Then, if we go into the New Testament, we see milk for infants pictured as doctrine. If we look at 1 Peter 2:2, Peter says that,

“Like a newborn infant, we should be longing for the milk of Scripture. Long for pure spiritual milk that by it, you may grow up to salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

He’s basically using this tasting milk growing up infant using these words, to create this picture. An infant longs for milk– [baby crying in the background] I hear my infant actually, so I need to pause this recording and run out and [laughs] check on him. He’s with Josh. But they long for that milk, so they can grow, they need it in order to grow. 

Hebrews 5 uses the same analogy, but to say that if you’re a beginner in faith, then you want that, that milk level doctrine, but it’s time to grow up and get beyond infant stage, but it uses that picture of a breastfeeding infant as the beginning of taking in that doctrine, that abundant, beautiful sustaining nutritious food that they need at the very beginning. Scripture obviously talks about this, and it’s clearly something that was understood culturally. Ever since creation, women have been given this capability of nursing their children. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. However, something happened in Genesis 3 that affected every single aspect of fertility, including breastfeeding.

Before I continue into the Genesis 3 conversation, I want to share a little of my story. I have three children. Many of you know, I have my babies at home, I’m a home birth mom, and I’m a little bit crunchy granola. I like to do things holistically and naturally as much as possible. We’ve cloth diapered and make our own baby food when we get to that point, and I’m obviously doing home birth, and we do different things that aren’t typically mainstream when it comes to our choices with our home and family. In the circles that I run in, breastfeeding is the ultimate. It is the necessary, it is what you, of course, will do and you’ll probably do it for a very long time. Many people in my world are co-sleeping and are breastfeeding until ages two and three, that’s very normal. But when I started with my first baby, I quickly discovered that I had a problem with supply. It didn’t take long to begin to see just how much my baby was struggling. In fact, she was very close to failure to thrive when we took her in after a couple of months. My doctor, a pediatrician, is looking at me saying, “This baby needs more food,” but here I was stressed and anxious doing everything. And when I say everything, I mean, every single thing. Taking fenugreek, eating bran muffins, eating oatmeal like it was my day job. Not working out, pumping after every feed. There were times, actually weeks, where I was pumping or feeding for at least 14 hours of the day. I could do nothing else. Just an absolute anxious mess, stressed out of my mind. My husband wasn’t there, because he was working anywhere from 10- to 12-hour days. 

During that season, all I heard was breast is best. Breast is best. Let’s make it work, we’ll figure it out, we’ll do it. I did it until she was five months old, when Josh asked me to stop or actually told me, “You need to stop,” because I was so depressed and so anxious, and I couldn’t feed my baby. The first night that we gave her formula was the first night she actually slept well. She slept completely through the night because my baby was that hungry. Through that experience when something is personal to you, the shame and guilt that I took from having to stop at five months, the shame and guilt I carried through not being able to feed my baby and then finding out that my baby was just hungry, that I hadn’t been giving her what she needed, because of the pressure of my society, and the pressure of the world I was in, it broke my heart. 

When I had my next baby, I tried again. I was pressured to try again. This time, I made it four months. Once again, my supply gave out, and I had to stop. At this point, I was happy to stop because of the stress and anxiety that was adding to my postpartum season. This time was my third, I have voluntarily chosen to stop at six weeks, and will no longer be breastfeeding after that. I’m completely at peace with that, and happy about that, because I know that I’m giving the best thing to my baby. By giving him a stress-free mom, and providing him with sustenance that helps him grow. We’ll be making our own formula. Even if we weren’t, I am completely at peace with this decision. 

When I have been open about the fact that I was at peace with this decision and have shared a little bit of my own breastfeeding experiences, I have had pushback from people. One of the things that women have said to me is, “I don’t understand how you can give your child formula when God designed our bodies a certain way.” God designed us to breastfeed, and that, therefore is the holiest and best thing you can do for your baby. If you don’t do it, the implied takeaway is that you either don’t love your child, or you are basically in sin against God and His design. I have had people tell this to me. If you have too, I’m so sorry, it is so hurtful, and it’s so shame inducing. And no one should have to hear that, but it’s happening. It’s happening everywhere. That was my experience. 

What really this connects to is an understanding of Scripture. There’s a theological issue at play here. If we go back to the episode on birth and pregnancy, what do we learn about Genesis 3? We learn that while women were not cursed, the pregnancy and birth, and the whole process was not cursed. There was resistance brought into the world by sin. Sin affected fertility, it affected everything, and therefore it also affects breastfeeding. My autoimmune disease is what causes low supply. Many women with autoimmune diseases have low supply, but there are many other women who may choose not to breastfeed because of mental health reasons, or who may not be able to breastfeed like me. Why does that happen when God designed breastfeeding? It happens because of the fall. This is why when we tried to use Scripture to support a point, we have to make sure we’re being consistent in what Scripture is actually saying. 

One of my primary missions with the Verity podcast is to supply theology in an approachable and understandable way for the new believer or the longtime disciple of Christ. I know that theology can be overwhelming and sometimes it feels like you don’t know what book to pick up or where to even start. That is why I wrote Theology Basics. Theology Basics is not a systematic theology. It’s not a book that is going to weigh as much as a dictionary. It’s just a simple eBook that introduces the concepts and basic fundamental principles of theology on the nature of God, the nature of man, authority of Scripture, and salvation. So, if you’re starting out and you don’t know where to begin, this would be a great resource for you. Theology Basics is only $10, on my website, in our shop, and it’s available all the time. If you head to phyliciamasonheimer.com, you can click on Shop, and you’ll find Theology Basics, as well as my other eBooks all available right there. I hope that Theology Basics opens a door to your excitement and curiosity about what it means to be a Christian, and how to truly understand what it is that we believe.

We’re going to pause the theology for just a moment and talk specifically about breast is best. From a nutritional standpoint, there’s no question that breast milk is the best in an ideal world. If everyone could breastfeed and it was possible from a physical, mental, ability standpoint than absolutely, that is the best route to go. But in a fallen world, that’s not always possible. 

Historically, Breast Is Best as a campaign goes back to somewhere around the 70s and the 80s. In the 1960s, only 25% of Canadian women, I don’t have stats on the United States, but I imagine it’s similar, 25% of Canadian women breastfed, or even attempted to breastfeed. By the early 1990s, it was 75%. As of 2012, it was 89%. This is largely due to a complete switch in the medical community to promote breastfeeding over formula. Because before that, in the 1950s, there was this tendency to just use formula, no questions asked. In fact, there was even a bit of prestige attached to it, and this idea that if you were wealthy, you would be able to afford formula, and it gave you some kind of status, whereas only the poor would breastfeed because they couldn’t afford anything else. There was honestly some pride involved, and status involved with formula, in buying formula, as well as the promoting and the marketing of it. So, in the 70s and 80s, we have this campaign, unofficially that started, and truly revolutionized how we perceive breastfeeding, to the point that we have actually completely flipped it on its head. Now, the shame doesn’t come towards those who breastfeed so much as towards those who don’t. 

Now, obviously, there are still people who are pro-formula and will shame a breastfeeding mother, for breastfeeding in public, even with her cover on, or people who will hold to that old mindset. But in my personal experience, and in talking to hundreds of women on my Instagram and my Facebook, there is a lot of shame that is now being perpetuated through the breast is best mantra. I want to be very specific here that I’m not questioning the nutritional value of breastfeeding. That’s not what this is about. What this is about is, how do we as Christian women deal with the shame and guilt that is perpetuated around this issue, especially when our bodies are affected by the fall, and we may not be able to breastfeed our children. 

This is exactly like the issue of natural birth versus epidural birth or C-section. The same kind of shame being perpetuated when someone doesn’t have the baby “the way God designed.” We have to be so careful using that kind of language when we live in a fallen world. God’s design has been marred by sin. That means that things will not always go the way we hope. We can plan, we can educate. I’m a huge proponent of education. I wish there was better breastfeeding education. I wish there was better natural birth education, especially in hospitals. But even with that education, things do not always go as planned. I know many women who wanted a home birth and maybe had to go to the hospital instead because it wasn’t safe, and praise the Lord for the hospital. They were disappointed and grieved and felt like they failed because they didn’t have the birth that they wanted. Same goes with breastfeeding.

We live in a fallen world, and that means that because of the fall, go back and listen to the Birth and Pregnancy episode, we will be resisted in this world, our labor of conception, remember, infertility is a labor pain. The same goes for actual labor and natural birth, and also for breastfeeding. Feeding a child is affected by the fall. We must keep that in mind when we are looking at this topic. [baby cooing] If you hear a little baby in the background, it’s because I’m actually nursing my baby right now, as I’m talking to you about this. [chuckles] 

Even back in the day, think ancient world, if you were not able to breastfeed, you did have an alternative, and it was wet nursing. This has always been a problem. When people talk about, “Well, this is how everybody’s done it all through the ages.” Well, sure if they could, and if they couldn’t, they either had to hire a wet nurse, or their baby may have died. We need to actually keep this in mind. We live in a day and age where there are options for women who can’t or don’t breastfeed their babies, but for many women throughout the ages, they had to find a wet nurse, or their baby would not survive. 

Wet nursing actually is the oldest profession and the most widespread profession, more so than prostitution, for women. If you look into the history of, it’s pretty fascinating. We see Moses needed a wet nurse. The pharaoh’s daughter hired a wet nurse, and she just so happened to be his own mother, which is so, so neat, because there’s all sorts of cool science about the bonding of a baby and its actual mother. So, it’s just God in His grace that Miriam gets Moses’ own mother to nurse him for pharaoh’s daughter. Just so cool. 

That aside, wet nursing has been a profession in France. It was it was huge in France. I believe it was in the 1800s, to the point where the police actually had to regulate these wet nurses, because so many parents were hiring them. You also have them in China, you have them in England, you had them everywhere, for so many different reasons. Some of those reasons were women who are very poor had to go back to work and couldn’t nurse their babies, so they had to send their babies to a wet nurse. Sometimes, these wet nurses had too many babies to feed, they couldn’t feed them all. This is just evidence of the way the fall has impacted the world that we will not always have what we need, or have the perfect body or the perfect situation. This is how it’s been throughout history. Don’t let somebody rewrite history for you, and act like before 1900, there weren’t alternatives for women who couldn’t breastfeed.

In fact, we’re very blessed in today’s world that when we are affected by the fall, we have options like formula, like breast milk banks, or getting breast milk from a friend. Us, in particular, in our family, we’ll be making our own formula from a recipe from my midwife. There are options today for our babies that people in past centuries did not have, and that is such a blessing and should be celebrated, not shamed.

Now, given this little bit of history, I now want to go to the theology aspect. How does the gospel speak into this? Well, as I said before, anytime someone is experiencing shame and guilt surrounding something, we know that the gospel is going to speak to it, we know that God has something to say about it. As I was thinking through this episode, my first quandary was, “Why is this happening? Why is this happening, this animosity?” I’ve heard many theories, I’ve listened to a lot of different podcasts talk about the Mommy Wars. The idea that the Mommy Wars are just because of comparison, is a little bit of a shallow answer. There’s got to be more to it than this. Why is there so much anger? Why is there so much willingness to make icky, ugly comments about other women, especially online, but even in person, when they aren’t doing what is “best” for their child?

Well, there’s a couple things at play. The three that we’re going to talk about are legalism, idolatry, and a misapplication of the theology of suffering. Let’s start with legalism. I have a whole episode of Verity on legalism, I would suggest listening to that if you’re new to what this is. Typically, when we talk about this, the images that may conjure up in your mind are super strict modesty standards, legalistic, difficult dating relationships, we have to be betrothed or only courting, etc. That might be what you think of when you think legalism. Remember, legalism is any shortcut to holiness. It’s any time that we’re trying to make ourselves more holy in God’s eyes. You might be thinking, “I have never thought breastfeeding was legalism.” I can understand why at first glance, but you’re going to see in just a second, why the Mommy Wars as a whole, the arguments about car seats and sleep training, and breastfeeding, and everything else really comes down to legalism and idolatry.

So, idolatry, how does that play in? Well, we become what we worship. We become what we worship. When we worship motherhood, when everything about our life revolves around our kids, we end up becoming bound to that thing. Our identity is now in our children. For someone to question anything we do for our children, becomes a question of our own identity. This is why women get so mad when you question a certain parenting choice, when you question breastfeeding. [laughs] Or, you say, “I chose not to do it.” Well, if she willingly chose not to do it, she obviously doesn’t think it’s the very best. If you believe it is not only the very best, but it is integral to your children, and your children are your world, that woman downplaying the greatness of breastfeeding is a personal statement against you. This is why the Mommy Wars exist, because if you find your identity and motherhood, and you find your identity, you are now defined by, I am a co-sleeping breastfeeding home birthing mom or I am– whatever other parenting choice you want to say, I’m just listing off the crunchy things that are in my world. If that becomes your identity, if someone does not choose that identity, or they downplay it, they choose something else, an insecure person is going to react negatively, or even with anger, because they feel personally attacked. 

As Christians, followers of Christ, our identity is with Him. It’s seated with Christ in the heavens. We are justified and we are being sanctified by Him, our purposes in Him. Everything we do, all the choices we make, with motherhood with our kids, are moving us towards His goals for our family. Every decision we make in motherhood also should be led by the Spirit. That means that for one person, it may look very different than for another person. That’s why legalism is the issue. Idolatry and legalism go hand in hand. Legalism is not God’s way. He is not asking you to create more laws in order to please Him. But if you have your identity in something else, if you’re worshiping something else, you’re going to have to have a whole new set of laws. Idolatrous people become legalistic, because they take that law that they’ve created, and they apply it to everyone else. 

So, while we might love the parenting choices we’ve made, we might love the motherhood that we have– I love having my babies naturally. I’ve seen the science. I think it’s amazing. It’s phenomenal. It’s a profoundly spiritual experience, even though it’s very difficult. But here’s the thing, that’s a very personal decision for me, that I feel at peace with the Lord about, and I know is physically safe so far. That doesn’t mean that every other person can’t have a spiritual experience in their birth, if they have it in a hospital, or they have it with an epidural, and not at home. This is where the wheels fall off the Mommy Wars, because idolatry and legalism cannot promote unity. They cannot see beyond their own narrow, little view of the world, and it’s really sad. 

The third aspect of this conversation is the misapplication of the theology of suffering. This is what I’ve heard frequently. In fact, I’ve had people messaged me saying, “Well, it’s more Christ-like to breastfeed. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean that you should quit because Jesus suffered for us and we’re called to suffer like Jesus.” At first, I thought about this, I thought, “Okay, there’s citing scripture saying, ‘we’re called to share in Christ’s sufferings.’ Why doesn’t this settle right with me?” I started looking through Scripture and I talked to some godly friends about this. What is going on here with this theology of suffering, that we’re comparing breastfeeding to Christ’s suffering? Therefore, if you don’t breastfeed, you don’t press through the difficulty, or say, you don’t have a natural birth, you don’t press through the difficulty, that somehow you are not being Christ-like? Or maybe say, you think that it’s more Christ-like, if you intentionally don’t sleep train your kids, and therefore don’t sleep for six years versus a woman who does sleep train her kids and start sleeping when they’re six months? Why is it that we have glorified martyrdom motherhood? The more miserable I am, the less sleep I have, the harder it is, the more supermom I am. This is my badge of honor, because I’m run ragged. Is this Scriptural? Is that what Christ meant by sharing in His sufferings? 

This is where we need to look very clearly at what Scripture is talking about when it talks about suffering. The suffering in Scripture is suffering that was not intentionally chosen. It is something that happens to you. In motherhood, we may have some very difficult hardship. You may have a special needs child that is far more demanding than the average child would be. Maybe you have a season where your child is very sick, and yeah, you’re not sleeping. Or maybe just the typical difficulties of parenting small kids or potty training, we’re also doing that right now. These can be trials, and they’re opportunities for us to show the sanctification of Christ as He works in us.

But here’s where suffering does not apply. It does not apply when we intentionally choose a path on a freedom issue, and then apply that path to other people. Here’s an example. Let’s say someone chooses to have a natural birth, like I do. Then, going through that natural birth, they say, “I felt so close to Christ through the difficulty of this natural birth. Therefore, it is more Christ-like to go through the difficulty, the suffering of birth than to get an epidural.” That is not what Christ is talking about with suffering. The suffering is something that you have no choice in, something that the Lord allowed to happen, that you’re walking through with Him, with no alternatives. Further, this suffering is not a freedom issue. It’s not something that one person may have a totally different path that God is not going to judge as wrong in His eyes. Epidurals are not a sin issue. Formula and breastfeeding, they are not sin issues. When we try to say if you don’t choose this path, you are not reflecting Christ’s suffering, you’re choosing the easy way out. Therefore, you are not as holy, or you are not as strong a believer. These are things I have actually heard, you guys. This is stuff that’s being said by Christians. “You aren’t bearing in Christ’s sufferings”, and therefore, the assumption is that the more Christ-like thing would be to bear pain. This cannot be our motivation for making decisions. This cannot be how we go about deciding how to parent and how to birth our babies and how to feed our babies, because this is not what Scripture supports. 

A misapplication of the theology of suffering is asceticism. I’m going to read you a little description of asceticism and why it’s so unbiblical. Asceticism comes from the Greek word, askēsis, meaning exercise training or practice. Ascetics renounce worldly pleasures that distract from spiritual growth and enlightenment and live a life of austerity and extreme self-denial. Stoics believe that holiness can reside only in the spiritual realm and all physical matter is evil. We talked about this in the Birth and Pregnancy episode, but also in the Sexuality episode. Ascetics do not necessarily believe that the flesh is evil, but they do go to great lengths to deny the flesh in order to transform the mind or free the spirit. Historically, asceticism has involved fasting, exposing oneself to heat or cold, sleep deprivation, flagellation, and more. 

This particular author gave a really great little piece at the end here, that shows us why this is so wrong for Christians. Followers of Christ are told to deny self, but asceticism takes this command to an extreme. The Bible never suggests that a Christian should purposely seek out discomfort or pain. On the contrary, God has richly blessed us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6, “The Bible warns of those who forbid people to marry in order for them to abstain from certain foods.” 1 Timothy 4, “It is erroneous to believe that celibates who abstain from certain foods are more holy than other people. We are under grace, not under law. Therefore, the Christian does not live by a set of rules, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit, Christ has set us free.” John 8:36, “In many cases, the ascetic practices self-denial in order to earn God’s favor, or somehow purge himself from sin. This shows a misunderstanding of grace, no amount of austerity can earn salvation or merit God’s love.” 

You might not be exposing yourself to heat or cold in order to prove something to the Lord, but maybe you’re making some parenting decisions, because you think that you must do that in order to be the best possible parent to be Christ-like, and that if you’re doing the absolute hardest thing that God is somehow more pleased by you, that He’s more pleased by you, if you have a natural birth, that He’s more pleased by you, if you spend another month breastfeeding, even though your postpartum anxiety is skyrocketing, and your baby is losing weight. That is not how our God works. It is not how our God works. Our God is in the business of freedom. We don’t make decisions of any kind, but especially with our families, out of this feeling that we have to prove something to people or to God.

This also plays into who are we really doing this for? Are you doing this because of the pressure of the people around you, or because you really want to? Because if you really want to keep going, keep doing it, get the solutions. But, for me, what I had to realize in this area, this is specifically to me in breastfeeding, for you, it might be a different issue. For me, it was saying, “You know what? I don’t have to prove anything to myself or to the world. I know I’m going to be taking care of my baby, and so I have peace, because I am not under legalism and I am not going to worship or put my identity and my motherhood in my decisions. I’m not going to let what other people are doing feel like a threat against those decisions.” It’s not enough to just say, “You do you,” or, “Be happy for her or don’t compare.” We have to get down to the root of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Breastfeeding here is just the example. It’s just the vehicle. This really points to a whole issue underlying the Mommy Wars in general. We’ll talk about that in the Motherhood episode. But what I really, really want to challenge you, is to think about your theology of suffering.

Are you creating a theology of suffering that isn’t what Christ taught? 

See, if Christ gives you a specific trial, He will see you through that, He will equip you for it. But if you choose a suffering, because you feel like it’s the “Christ-like thing,” and yet in that, you have no peace, you have to ask yourself, “Did God call me to this or did I choose to do this?” Whatever it is, whether it’s a natural birth, or how you’re diapering your kid, or whether you’re co-sleeping, or what school you’re putting them in, or whether you’re breastfeeding, or using formula, it applies to all of this.

When the Holy Spirit’s leading your decisions, this is why one woman can have total peace and a spiritual birth, that’s a C-section. And one woman can have total peace and a spiritual birth, that’s a home birth. When you’re walking with God, He knows what’s best for you and that baby and your family. Ultimately, what is He after? That your baby had breast milk for their first year? Or, that your baby knows Him? We have to get to the root of these things. We have to think about what is my theology? Because my theology is playing out in these tiny decisions, like how I view pregnancy, and how I look at my body and what I feed my baby. It’s amazing that our theology impacts it all, but it does.

With this episode, once again, I always have to make sure to add clarity. I’m not anti-breastfeeding. This was my particular challenge. For some of you, who listened to the Birth and Pregnancy episode, your particular challenge was your birth story or your infertility, and whatever the case may be, we have to submit our hearts to the Lord and the gospels influence and say, “I’m not going to live a legalistic life. I’m not going to apply my laws to someone else. I’m not going to apply what the Spirit has completely convicted me, individually led me to do unto them. I’m not going to create an idol out of motherhood. I’m not going to worship my kids. I’m going to lead my kids in worshipping God. Lastly, I’m not going to subscribe to this ascetic view of Scripture that says, ‘The more I suffer, and the more miserable I am, the better mom I am. The more run ragged, I am the better I am.’” That’s not what Christ teaches. He teaches that He will sustain you and His grace will be sufficient for you, but His grace is only sufficient for you in the suffering that He has permitted, not the suffering that you have chosen for yourself that maybe He was never even asking you to walk in.

I know this is a lot to think about and we’re going to dive more into this in the Motherhood episode. In that episode, we’re actually going to get into the quote that I have heard regarding these same topics. “There is no trophy for having a natural birth,” etc. We’re going to get into that in the Motherhood episode. But for now, I’m going to stop this here. Hope this gave you some things to think about. 

And as usual, thank you so much for listening to Verity podcast. If you like others to be able to listen to some of our episodes, please leave a review, it helps us so much to get the word out to more listeners is to leave a review. Whether you leave a full review of your thoughts and what you’ve enjoyed, or whether you just leave the star review, both are extremely helpful to get the word out for the podcast. Thank you as always for listening, and we’ll be back next week with our episode on Asceticism and Motherhood.