Thursday, May 19, 2016

No, I Won't Nurse in Church (without a cover)

13 Then let us not criticize one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way.... 15 If your brother is being hurt or offended because of food [that you insist on eating], you are no longer walking in love [toward him]. Do not let what you eat destroy and spiritually harm one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is a good thing for you [because of your freedom to choose] be spoken of as evil [by someone else];
Romans 14:13, 15-16

Countless times I have been on nursing web sites. Countless times on Facebook groups, and countless times I've seen the question: should you nurse in church? Of course there are the obvious answers of legality, but as a Christian, I think we need to have a higher idea of what should and shouldn't happen here. And, ladies, WE have to answer it for our churches. Why? Because they are in a no-win situation. See, if they ask a mother to move with her children, then regardless of how much money they've poured into having a great children's program, they're not considered child friendly. One mom, who insists that her children absolutely must stay with her so they learn how to behave in church, can cause a distraction for 20 people around her. But, hey. At least she sorta helped pick up the goldfish crumbs. 

Our entitlement on nursing is getting a little out of hand, I think. While, yes, legally, you have a right to nurse anywhere you can lawfully be, that doesn't make it a good idea. And church has a different purpose, and I hate to break it to you, snowflake... that purpose isn't always YOU. 

There are laws that govern the Christian walk, and believe me, there are bigger grey areas here than in the tax codes. We have a Law of Freedom and Liberty. The Bible doesn't say much about what music to listen to, what movies and TV shows to watch, or even how much screen time is allotted for a 6 month old. There are a million areas that allow us to worship our God, and do as we see fit as long as: it's not a stumbling block for someone else. 

I'm going to pause here, and explain two things: the purpose of Church, and the purpose of breastfeeding. 

What is a church? A church is a group of people whose sole purpose is to worship God. A group of broken, damaged, sinful people who are loved by an amazing, loving, and unconditionally awesome God. We're all sinners. We're all fallen, stupid, and need Grace. That's what the church is there for: it's a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. What does that mean? Not everything done in a hospital is done with your comfort in mind: but it is done to keep everyone safe, healthy, and provide an environment where someone who has been injured or ill can recover. Is everyone sick at a hospital? No. But the conditions are there specifically for those that are. 

What is breastfeeding? Basically taking a lactating breast and letting a baby suck on it. It's feeding a hungry baby. Is it more holy than bottle feeding? No. Is it in itself a holy act? Not any more than anything else. Here's the clencher with breastfeeding, though: it involves breasts. Now, is nursing an infant in any way a sexual act? Ask any mother who has had a child almost bite her clean through that question. The answer is absolutely not. But has our culture sexualized breasts in a new and terrible way? Unfortunately, yes. Yes, they have. 

So, here's the answer that I hear too often, "Well, if they have a problem with it, then it's their problem. Not mine." 

So let me ask you this: would you ask a friend in recovery from alcoholism to dinner and drink a beer in front of them? Of course not. Because you want your friend to recover. You want them to remain whole. 

Inherently, there's nothing wrong with the beer. But it is a stumbling block to your friend. It is something, that while it could be enjoyed with other people in a totally appropriate way, it's not appropriate for a recovery scenario. 

Now, take that to church. The place that is the hospital for the broken, addicted, suffering, and hurting. We all know you have a right to feed your child. That's never the question. But just as you would do things differently in a hospital, you need to consider other people's situations at church. Some churches may not care one way or another, but there are many that will kindly ask that you sit in the back of service, use a nursing cover, or maybe go into the nursery or nursing mother's room that they have provided. It's not a punishment. It's not a persecution to be asked to cover up while nursing in church. Maybe, just maybe, that church knows something you don't. Several churches that I've attended in years past had specific groups for addiction, including sexual addiction. Maybe you just sat down with one of their newest members, and the usher that asked you (probably red-faced and nervous) to politely cover knew of that situation. 

So while we have the Law of Freedom, we also have the Laws of Love and of Sacrifice. The law of Love states that while I don't usually do this a certain way, I will do it a way that benefits all of us. I will put what I want and what I think i'm entitled to away for an hour so that everyone can be distraction free and enjoy listening to the message. The Law of Love understands that life isn't based around what I want, what I "deserve" or what I "have a right to." The Law of Love doesn't go into a situation waiting for someone to say something so that can complain later that they're "not breastfeeding friendly" and set an entire church up for failure. 

Mommas, I urge you to pass this on. It's bound and determined to ruffle some feathers and that's totally fine. I can deal with that. I'll deal with the haters, you just keep being you.  



  1. Wow. Good thought process here. So true.

  2. I find it flat out rude to nurse in church with out a cover. It is a distraction and some do struggle with it. Its called privates for a reason. we dont want our kids throwing that out so why should we?

  3. I completely agree that this whole argument in general has gotten out of hand. I still find it to be somewhat private and especially at church. You really have to think of others...but that does seem to be a hard thing for people these days. Beautiful post.

  4. Thanks, all! Please feel free to share. As I said in the post, most people that are in ministry will be too scared to take any sort of stance on this because doing so will automatically offend someone... So, help 'em out!

  5. These are great points. I love the example of having the alcoholic over for dinner. I will definitely pass this on!