Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Normalize Open Breast Feeding

As with sex in marriage, Christians really ought to own the issue of breastfeeding. We should be the most informed, the most accepting, the most encouraging and we ought to have the least number of hang-ups about feeding a child at the breast than any other group of people on the planet. "Why," you ask? Because we know the Creator. We know the Designer. We know that everything He designed and created was very good. Breast feeding is not some embarrassing part of our family history that needs to be covered up and excused. We don't have to apologize for God having put the life-giving nutrients in the breasts of women which must needs be extracted by children by way of nipples. There, I said it. Nipples. I said it again. Does that make you uncomfortable? Would you prefer that I said "teets?" How about "tits?" Why, exactly, does this make us squirm?

Does it bother us just because it doesn't bother hippies and Hollywood types? I'll be the first to admit that if some Hollywood starlet is endorsing something, I pause to consider whether I'm on the right track if I happen to agree with her. Here is one example I saw this morning

As you can see, this comes from Glamour magazine. This woman (I never heard of her), Olivia Wilde, was photographed breast feeding her baby in a restaurant. It is a posed shot. She said that she wanted to include this in the magazine story about her because being a mother is such an important part of her identity. I say, "Good for her." Secretly, I hope that lots of women see this and will feel more confident about breast feeding their own children. Perhaps they will think, "See, she is sexy and famous, and she does it. I can, too." But beyond breast feeding, I have very little in common with this mother and I actively oppose the civilization-destroying beliefs that she espouses in the article. I don't want her to be the poster child for breast feeding, for mothering, or any other important aspect of Western Civilization.

How can a person be so right about one subject and be so wrong about everything else? I hate to say it, but even a blind hog finds a truffle once in awhile. Here is what she has to say about why she hasn't yet married her bastard child's father:

"We're engaged, but no specific plans yet — we just have to find the time to put it together," she said. "In many ways, a child is more of a commitment. We are fully committed and really happy as a family. And there's no definition of the 'normal family' anymore. Kids today are growing up with so many different definitions of family. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel any pressure to do it. But I think it will be really fun."

So, marriage is for when they "find the time to put it together" and she thinks "it will be really fun." I believe she has confused a wedding with a marriage. She exalts illegitimate parenthood to a position higher than marriage by saying that a "child is more of a commitment." Families are not built on the foundation of having children, any savage can pump out babies. Families are built upon the foundation of marriages, and families ARE the foundation of civilizations.  She is also extremely proud that she won't be sacrificing her career now that she is a mother. Of course not. What, with all those nannies and stuff, she is just like all of those other single moms out there working at McDonald's.  And besides, she had a great example in her own "badass working mother" who was "a writer and filmmaker who made documentaries for PBS's Frontline and was a Princeton journalism professor." This gem of a mom taught her daughter what was important. As Olivia puts it, "That inspired me when I was pregnant. I wasn't going to sacrifice myself because I was becoming a mother." Nope. Motherhood should certainly not involve sacrifice. You can have it all, sister!

You can read more about this person here, although I've probably told you all you need to know.

In spite of the immorality and anti-biblical family values of Hollywood starlets, there is nothing about breast feeding, even with a full breast exposed, that violates any recommendation in Scripture to be modest. This neo-Victorian prudishness about breast feeding that is currently reigning in the U.S. is not based upon the Bible. It is new in history. Even common sense will tell us that what we are asking of breast feeding mothers, that they don't feed their children in public, that they completely cover their upper bodies and the heads of their babies, would not only be impractical in most cultures and settings outside of the home, but completely impossible. Even the Victorians didn't treat public breast feeding with the horror feigned by modern Americans at the sight of a breast with a child attached. How do I know this? Well, I didn't appear on the scene of history until fairly recently, so I have to rely on resources such as art. That's right. Paintings, sculptures and drawings of everyday life throughout the past 1000 years have depicted breast feeding. Without covers. In public. The examples I'm going to share are beautiful, but if you find it distasteful, please look away.

This next one is especially interesting, as presumably the family portrait was being painted so that it could be displayed:

One person's interpretation of Jesus blessing the little children: 

 This is from a painting by Lucas Kranach, friend of Martin Luther. Apparently the women in this church all sit together, presumably the men are sitting on the other side of the room, not because of breast feeding, though.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As photography started becoming more widespread in the late 1800's  breast feeding women were being included in snapshots as well as posed portraits.  Clearly our ancestors did not consider a breast exposed for the purpose of feeding a child to be inappropriate, immodest, or undesirable in any way.

What happened? I think what happened was formula feeding. Women, generations of them now, have grown up without any association between breasts and their function in feedings babies. These women only know breasts as objects of sexual pleasure. While there is nothing wrong with using breasts for pleasure, it is wrong to say that body parts which bring sexual pleasure must be hidden in public. Do we say that about our lips? It is a perversion of design to relegate nursing mothers and their babies to public toilets and secret closets. Let Christians lead the way in giving honor to the Creator for his magnificent design.