I love the Pope. And now I love him more. During a recent interview that you have probably read about:
"At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few month s old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child..."
Why am I bringing this up now? As we prepare for Christmas, I would like you to consider who you may see at Christmas service, Christmas Mass, or what other services your faith celebrates. Specifically, I am talking to my Christian readers - as 'we' seem to be the ones with the bigger hang ups regarding sexuality, the body, and the breast.
And why (and where) did we get our misconstrued views of the breast? I tell, you, it's not Biblical!
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” – Isaiah 49:15
“…because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb.” [Genesis 49:25, NIV]
“Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom. For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.” – Isaiah 66:10-12
And for those who argue that it's fine to nurse, just not in public, I would challenge you to consider that artwork throughout the ages has shown Christian artists and depictions in churches across the world modeling Mary and churchgoing women nursing their babies in public.
Even the most conservative religions, and factions of Christianity, nurse in public without issue. So..
As a Christian woman, and a prior breastfeeding mama, I encourage women, this Christmas, nurse your little ones. Nurse them in public, nurse them to remind those around you of the reason for the season: LOVE. Love to one another, love for mankind, love of a Father who sent His Son to the world.
Pastors, clerics, priests... encourage your congregants to accept breastfeeding in service. Help Western culture to remember the Father's love for mankind by normalizing something that God saw fit, and nonsexual, to share between His people, and mother's and their children.
And Merry Christmas!