This is an ongoing series in which I am exploring some of the issues in which we mommies not only face unnecessary guilt, but also place unnecessary burdens on our sisters in Christ.
My first attempt at this post was deleted between me hitting publish and the actual publishing. I’m sorry if you got 404. This is my attempt at a rewrite.
People who eat broccoli are less likely to be obese, have cataracts, or develop osteoporosis. It contains properties known to prevent cancer and promote blood and heart health. Broccoli is a good, healthy food choice and puts kids on a path to making their own healthy food choices. Now does anyone think it is immoral to not feed children broccoli? Probably not. Broccoli might be a good idea, but there are any number of reasons that a family may not choose to include it in their regular meal plan.
Just like broccoli, breastfeeding is a nutritional decision. It might be a good idea, but it is not a moral necessity. In fact, God doesn’t seem all that concerned about breastfeeding. Historians and archaeologists say that women in antiquity would either breastfeed their own infants, place them with a wet nurse, or bottle feed them animal (most often goat) milk, but God gives us neither an overt command, nor an implied principle that breastfeeding an infant is preferable. No woman who places her child with a wet nurse is ever chastised for doing so. The law contains no command, and that paragon of female virtue found in Proverbs 31 has no reference at all to how the unnamed woman fed her children. Likewise, the New Testament passages that address the things women are to learn make no mention of breastfeeding. Not a single woman in the entire New Testament is even mentioned as being a nursing mother.
I understand that much of the pro breastfeeding movement is a response to the anti-breastfeeding sentiments that occurred in the US between the 50’s and the 70’s. We do not love each other well when we assign other women as either friend or foe in a battle she probably did not choose. When we make this about sides we stop being the Titus women we are commanded to be.
Finally, while broccoli is a healthy vegetable that assists in good overall health, the broccoli your son ate at dinner last night is not responsible for the A he earned in math this morning. Likewise, claims that breastfeeding can reduce SIDS and increase IQ are not only unprovable, they sinfully deify breastfeeding by assigning to it (and to us as mothers) factors that are ultimately in the Lord’s hands and his alone. We can encourage each other to make healthy decisions but when we begin to teach that our decisions have the power to determine something as big as life and death we have crossed a line that is not ok to cross.
I know this is a pretty hot button issue, but I hope that I have approached it scripturally and with grace. I look forward to reading your thoughts.