Breastfeeding in Public

I’m about to soap box, y’all so just get ready.

I saw another article today about a woman kicked out of a public pool allegedly for being unruly, she claims it was for breastfeeding her baby.

First things first, I’m a Christian. That does not mean everyone is required to submit to the same values and ideals as me. In fact, it would be stupid idealistic ridiculous asinine for me to presume that everyone should hold to the same beliefs, convictions, or standards as me. Especially if those ideals and beliefs are not based upon the same objective moral standard.

That said, there is this absurd notion that a woman’s breasts are either utilitarian and functional (as in the case of a breastfeeding mother) or lusty and sexual (as in the case of 99% of the other women in bikinis at that public pool).

But guess what?

They’re both. And not mutually exclusive.

*pauses for collective internet gasps*

Yes. I said it. Breasts are both sexually, aesthetically appealing, as well as functional. And God did it that way on purpose.

Where did I come up with this idea? Well for one, I’m a mother of 3, soon to be 4 (mostly) exclusively breastfed children. But before that, I was a wife for 5 years. And guess what? *The secret is about to come out* my husband was fond of my breasts before they were ever utilized for feeding our children. And that’s okay. It’s not raunchy, it’s not debauchery, it’s not misogyny. It is simple biological fact that men like breasts. But more than experientially, I can validate the dual purpose nature of a woman’s breasts biblically.

Breasts referred to in a sexually gratifying manner:

Proverbs 5:18-23

Song of Solomon 4:5; 7:3; …let’s be honest, pretty well the whole book.

Breasts in reference to feeding children:

Exodus 2:6-10- Jochebed, Moses’s mother, was essentially paid to breastfeed her own son, and saved his life in so doing while the rest of the Hebrew baby boys were being murdered.

1 Samuel 1:20-25- Hannah conceived Samuel, and promised him in service to God, but not until after he was weaned. Weaned from what? Not from soy formula to lactaid-free whole milk. Breastfeeding. She nursed her son.

These are just a few examples but scripture is full of them. It’s also full of the standards and expectations for public behavior by professing Christian women.

1 Timothy 2:9- Christian women should dress themselves with decency and propriety

Ephesians 5:22-23- expectation for Christian women in marriage

1 Peter 3:3-4- gentle and quiet spirits are of greater value to the kingdom than fashion

The issues here are motive, and perception. This blog addresses the issue of Christian modesty in more detail. What I’m saying is, Victoria’s Secret is not what is making those things so darned perky- it’s that men like boobs, and *brace yourselves* women like it when men like their boobs.

C’mon, single gals. How do you dress when you’re trying to attract a mate? Considerably more fashionably, with every intent to accentuate natural beauty. Why does what you wear make you feel attractive? Because it draws male attention, making you feel attractive, and wanted.

Married ladies, how is it you dress for date night with hubster? In something you know he finds attractive, because 1) you like feeling attractive to him 2) he likes when you dress for him.

Breastfeeding mamas, what’s your first concern in feeding your child? The fastest possible way to silence your screaming, hungry child. Are you as concerned with modesty? Eh. Probably not. But I’ve heard any number of women say “it’s not my job to account for the creep in the gas station parking lot checking me out while I nurse a baby” or “my baby yanks down/up my cover so what’s the point?” Or “I have the right to feed my child anywhere, anytime, anyway I see fit.”

And to a degree, all those statements have elements of truth to them.

But as Christian women, wives, and mothers, your first and primary allegiance is not to your husband, or your nursing baby. It’s to God. Period. And God’s Word is pretty clear about modesty of heart, and modesty of dress.

No, you aren’t responsible for the creepy pervert’s actions. But you are responsible for yours, (Romans 14:13-23) and how they affect others, especially as it pertains to your Christian witness.

Philippians 1:27

Colossians 1:10; 2:6

1 Thessalonians 2:12

Of course, you have the right to feed your child! It’s absurd to argue otherwise. It would constitute neglect and abuse not to feed your child just because you’re in a public place. But your child’s needs do not negate your responsibility to God to conduct yourself in such a way that when you inevitably face criticism, your accusers walk away ashamed because of your impeccable integrity.

Laziness (convenience) is never a reason for lack of modesty. Nor is laziness ever condoned in Scripture.

The ridiculous double standard purported by bikini wearing women on one side and La Leche League on the other is stupid. Absurd. Self defeating, and again, asinine.

Either there’s something wrong with both types of exposure, or there’s nothing wrong with either.

So Christian women, if it upsets you that people call you out for feeding your kid in public, but not for wearing a bikini to the beach, maybe we should rethink our standards and try to approach understanding of our bodies both biblically and spiritually, instead of just physically.

If I ruled the world, every woman would exercise a little more discretion, and a lot more respect for other women… including themselves.

Breastfeeding is beautiful. Because a woman’s body is beautiful. And a woman’s bond to her child is beautiful. Because God made it to be beautiful in both form and function.

I just try to remember, when I surrendered my life to Christ, I surrendered spirit, mind, and body. So,

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

-Colosaians 3:17

…and “everything” includes how you dress, as well as how you breastfeed.

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