Breastfeeding Nurse-In

breastfeeding friendly artBreastfeeding moms had a nurse-in yesterday in response to a rude and ill informed couple of employees at Target who demanded that a well-covered nursing mother not breastfeed her baby in the store- an illegal demand in Texas, where it happened, and over half the states.

Anytime a discussion of something like this comes up in certain circles, there are always a few elements who insist nursing moms should not ‘flaunt it.’  Never mind that the displays of underwear and lingerie in those same stores DO ‘flaunt’ far more than most nursing mothers ever display.

And, actually, I do think Christian women do have a responsibility to be modest within reason to help their brothers and not be a stumbling block. I also feel that Christian men have an even stronger obligation to be MEN who learn and practice self control, taking *every* thought captive for Christ (that’s scripture) so as not to be stumbling blocks themselves. I do not think demanding that women only nurse their babies by hiding away in a back room while they feed their children as God designed is a reasonable demand.  That request (or demand) is itself “a stumbling block,” and I am not being fecitious. I am tempted to engage in uncharitable thoughts, impatience, and  mockery when people make such unreasonable demands on such flimsy excuses. So your weakness is lust.  Mine is being a jerk.   Sin is sin.  So why shouldn’t it be your job to avoid being the stumbling block that trips me into the failing of sitting in the seat of the scornful and thinking uncharitable thoughts about my brethren?

There’s a more important issue with this attitude about breastfeeding.  It’s also unbiblical thinking.

Isaiah 40:11 says that our Good Shepherd gathers the little ones into his arms and tenderly leads the nursing mothers.

Is. 49:15 tells us God is more tender and compassionate to His children then even a mother with a breastfeeding baby.

HE is not embarrassed by the thought of a breastfeeding baby. He uses that breastfeeding baby as a metaphor for his own tender compassion- and more than once.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 has Paul (the bachelor!) without shame comparing himself and his companions to breastfeeding mothers, saying he was as tender with the new converts as a mother is to her nursing baby. How did he know how tenderly a mother behaves with a breastfed baby if the 1st century Christians hid away in back corners of dark rooms to nurse their babies as though it were something shameful?  How could he have used as a metaphor for himself if it were so shameful it shouldn’t even be mentioned in public?  Seriously, a friend of mine was chastised by an older Christian woman for mentioning the word ‘breastfeeding’ on her own social media because it was not modest.  The word itself is not modest?  But it’s in the Bible over and over!

Joel 2:16 shows us God commanding that the suckling babies be brought into the assembly. Clearly, He is not embarrassed by them, nor does he expect the rest of the congregation to be ‘distracted’ by them.

I’ll be honest, I really don’t buy the majority of ‘but it’s immodest, it might cause somebody to lust, it’s a stumbling block’ arguments I’ve heard from professing Christians.  I suspect this may be an issue for some adolescent boys who are young, inexperienced, newly aware of hormones and might just as well be tempted to lust by Barbie dolls, children’s cartoons, words like lust, temptation, and having to reply to the question ‘what piece of chicken do you want?’  I will give cut the adolescents some slack, largely because it’s not their fault they live in a warped culture that has sexualized breastfeeding and hidden it away so it feels like something that should only be done in a shamefaced manner.

But outside of that special group, God bless their hearts, I don’t think it’s lust. I think it’s disgust.  It makes people squeamish.  They just find it embarrassing, not lust-making.  So for the rest of us, anybody out of puberty for more than a year or two?  Grow up.

I submit that if we find breastfeeding awkward and embarrassing, we are not thinking as God thinks, but thinking as carnal man thinks, and we need to bring our thinking in line with God’s, not the other way around

Updated to add this excellent link from Tim Challies- exchanging the natural for the unnatural.

Updated again to add a link to this one, where she explains that mentions of breasts in the context of feeding and nurturing children are two to one against breasts as sexual objects.

This beautiful post lays out more about the biblical teachings on breastfeeding.  Must reading.


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