July 11, 2010...8:32 pm

Worship, breastfeeding, and shifting that paradigm

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Dear friends,

I’m writing from a cozy cabin in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve spent the past three days with my parents, brothers, sisters in law, August, and all his super cool cousins. It’s been a good, exhausting trip and I’m sorry to say that I have very little insight to give you on this late Sunday night/early Monday morning. Though I will say that “Cousin Camp” in the mountains is the ultimate in the kind of “slow” childhood I hope for my son.

So, tonight, in my Cousin Camp weariness, I came across a post at SortaCrunchy that I hope will become a common discussion among women (and men) in the Church. What does it mean to have a biblical view of breastfeeding? And to quote Megan at SortaCrunchy: Do we “agree with our culture’s corrupted view of breasts and breastfeeding” in a way that “[denies] God’s beautiful, exquisite design”?

It’s worth the conversation. Read “Paradigm Shift: Breastfeeding as Worship” here, then let me know what you think.




  • Great article, thanks for pointing me to it. I have thought and read a lot about breastfeeding since becoming a momma but this is the first time I’ve seen a blog post about bf within a Christian framework. I think this is one of those areas where cultural message is so strong and singular it is hard to find our way back to “normal.” For me, the process of deciding not to wean my son at one year and all the resistance and obstacles I’ve encountered since made me realize how upside down our attitudes and feelings about bf are. Among Christians, there is particular irony in anti-bf pressures since Jesus was almost certainly bf till the ripe old age of 2 or 3, at least. It’s kind of reminiscent of prohibitionists ignoring all the alcohol in the N.T.

  • Priscilla, I’m so happy to hear from you! I was hoping you’d see this post because I knew you’d have something interesting to say. Jesus’ weaning age is something I’ve definitely never considered. Of course when we talk about most Christians’ view of breastfeeding, we’re discussing our particular American culture…not the Universal Church. Breastfeeding is such a cultural issue so it’s new for me to be considering it in light of scripture at all. But you’re right, like the alcohol thing, we tend to find whichever scriptures already support our cultural belief…

  • Wow, great post. Thanks for the link.

    To answer your question: when we become squeamish and intolerant of people feeding their babies in public, yes, we buy into our culture’s corrupted view. The sad thing is that this corruption is affecting our children, by causing babies to be breastfed more rarely, and for shorter time periods, resulting in more illness for kids, and less effective bonding with their moms.

  • Breastfeeding is such a loaded topic! Nothing gets mamas more riled up than the breast/formula debate. That said, I care deeply about a woman’s right to breastfeed, and it makes me sad that it can be so hard to do so, out in society. My child was breastfed until he turned two. Yes, I have breastfed my child in public bathrooms. Even at church, where we didn’t have a nursing mothers room, I would go into a unlocked office, in order not to be flashing my boobs in the nursery (where fathers go in and out, of course).

    I really resonated with the writer’s POV: breastfeeding here in the South, especially, can be difficult. We don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, whether that’s our daddies or grandpas or other men. It absolutely makes me furious that women are accused of causing someone to stumble when they’re simply feeding their child. It’s a view that will take time to overcome.

  • I think it’s unfair and inaccurate to reduce matters to “cultural corruption,” or to take for granted that it’s all about sex or ideas of beauty. For me, it’s about intimacy. When I’m exposed to an intimate act in an intimate relationship that excludes me, I experience feelings of intrusion. Not just that I’ve been intruded upon, but that I’ve intruded upon some intimacy that doesn’t involve me.

    Of course, it does become culutural regarding where we draw the lines of public intimacy. Some things, like holding hands, are more acceptable than others, like Frenchin’ in the cafeteria. And that will vary, culture to culture. I’ll admit that, but I don’t agree that it’s about “corruption,” just that culture exists, and we exist within it.

    Personally, I really appreciate the apron technique. I’ve felt at ease around both friends in their homes and strangers in public who breastfeed using the apron thingy.

  • Hi Mischa! I’ve so been enjoying reading through some of your entries here since discovering you via Twitter, and I am honored that you would link to that post.

    It’s true that the matters surrounding breastfeeding and nursing in public are so complex and complicated, it’s nearly impossible to isolate one aspect of it to discuss. This one part of the equation has been on my mind a lot lately, and this seemed like a good time to talk about it.

    Good conversation here! Thank you again for inviting more discussion on the topic.

  • What happened in the past 20 years? Yikers !! When our children were born about 20 years ago, natural childbirth, midwives, and breast feeding were all the rage. Sandy and I took two courses on natural childbirth, along with a bunch of our friends. It all seemed so natural, straightforward, and sensible, not to speak of healthy and endearing.

    It is true that Sandy nursed in public more frequently than most of our friends, especially church friends. But, the impression I have now is that everything has become “complicated”, and there has been a mad retreat from sensibility. Whew, I hope I am misreading the “data”/ news on all this.

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