Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What Does the Bible Say About Childbirth?

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number.  Fill the earth and subdue it.' " (Genesis 1:28).  Obviously childbirth was an important and intended function for humans.

Genesis chapter 3 tells us the story of mankind's disobedience to God, and his banishment from paradise.  It is from this passage that many MISUNDERSTANDINGS of childbirth have arisen.

In the figurative creation story, Genesis 3:14 says, "So the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, "cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals."  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Not only did God curse the serpent, but he also cursed the ground.  Verse 17 says, "...cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life."

Because of the serpent's deception, he was cursed.  The ground was also cursed.  But man and woman were never cursed!  Because of their disobedience, God changed the circumstances they would have to live under.  He made everything more difficult.  Instead of simply picking fruit off of trees that were flourishing, Adam would have to do hard work to get his food.  Instead of childbirth being easy and effortless, there would be some hard work involved there as well.  The reason for this, however, was not because man and woman were cursed, but because they would buy into the deception and lies that would keep them from exercising their God's ordained authority to have dominion over the earth.

Genesis 3:16 says,  "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain will you give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Now the misunderstanding comes from the word "pain" in this verse, which has been mistranslated.  This word is NOT referring to physical pain.  It is referring to hard work and emotional travail.  The same word translated "pain" in the Greek Septuagint version of Genesis 3:16 is also used in Luke 22:45, and this helps to give us an idea of its true meaning.

"When he rose from prayer and went back
to the disciples, he found them asleep,
exhausted from sorrow."

The word "sorrow" in this verse is the same word translated "pain" in Genesis 3:16.  The apostles had not been enduring any physical pain in the garden of Gethsemane; they were exhausted from worrying about Jesus' impending death on the cross.  They had worked themselves up into an emotional frenzy that had drained them of their strength and incapacitated them.  Does that sound like what happens to a woman in labor?

Because the sensations of childbirth are strange to a woman, and because she has not properly prepared herself for what it will be like, she often becomes fearful.  Because she does not know how to cope with these new sensations, she often works herself up into quite an emotional state, and comes to dread and fear each contraction.  This creates what has been called the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.
Imagine that you have to get up and speak in front of a large audience of people.  The auditorium is filled, and you are waiting to go out and deliver your message.  What might be happening in your body at that time?  What physical sensations might you feel?

Butterflies in stomach
Knees shaking
Sweaty palms
Heart racing
Tension in neck and shoulders
Muscle Pain
Queasy stomach
Shortness of breath
Feeling faint

All of these are the body's way of reacting to fear.  Nearly all women experience these same sensations during childbirth - not because they are having a baby, but because these sensations are part of a fear reaction.  Because the sensations of childbirth are new to a woman and she is confused, she does not realize they are due to her own fear reaction.

God never cursed man or woman.  In the figurative creation story, He did curse the serpent and the ground.  But he gave man & woman dominion over the earth, and power over deception by giving them direct, intuitive access to the wisdom of the ages, which provides direction in every situation.

You see, even though God did not "curse" woman with pain in childbirth, the circulation of this figurative creation story has facilitated a change in the physical nature of the world we live in.  He said two things would happen:  woman would have much mental and emotional discomfort (sorrow) in childbirth, and he also said that husbands would try to rule over their wives.  These two things were not God's will for marriage and childbirth, they were a result of deception.  Because we create our own reality , the circulation of this figurative creation-and-fall story has caused those who believe it to create a situation in which there is significant pain during the childbirth process.  It has also caused a situation in which men feel justified in dominating women, and women feel forced to accept this domination.  Also, due to the fact that before the flood there was superior nutrition which caused childbirth to be painless, because the uterus was receiving all the nutrients it needed to function properly, now that the flood has destroyed the high nutrient content of the foods we eat, unless women are aware and make sure to provide a high level of nutrition during pregnancy, they will probably have pain.  It is not inevitable, and can be prevented.

When husbands and wives seek God's will for their marriage, there will be no adversarial relationship, no one person ruling another.  By the same token, when women seek God's way of giving birth, there will be no pain!  Evil, pain, suffering, disease....we have the power to do away with them, through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our  iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."     Isaiah 53:4-5

We are able to overcome pain, deception, and obstacles the same way Jesus did - by realizing our inherent power which comes from God, and by changing our belief about the situation we are in.  His punishment brings us peace because we know that, just as he was delivered from the pain and suffering of the cross, we can also be delivered from our pain and suffering.  Jesus did suffer on the cross, but he did not die there as many Christian teachers suggest.  There is much historical evidence, from the Dead Sea Scrolls and other sources, that Jesus was delivered from eventual death on the cross and went on to teach in other countries, to other cultures.  He died and was buried in India, along with Mary his mother.  Jesus knew at the time he went to the cross that a plan would be put in place which would deliver him, and he was able to stabalize his physical condition so that he would not die before the plan was carried out.  There are many reasons why he went through this horrendous physical torture, but one of them was to show us that nothing is impossible to us.  Even though we make mistakes, missing the mark, if we follow his teachings, we can reverse our sickness, negative emotional states, and any punishment imposed by self or others.  Changing our lives is within our power, just as it was within Jesus' power as the most spiritually evolved human that ever lived.

Incidentally, the "sorrows" in the above verse which Jesus took upon himself are the same word translated "pain" in Genesis 3:16 and "sorrow" in Luke 22:45.  So that ties it all together.

Barring some kind of physical obstruction, injury, or other physical complication, pain in childbirth can be virtually eliminated with proper preparation for birth, by providing excellent nutrition, by accepting that the body knows how to give birth, and realizing that pain is either the result of the fear response, or is the body's way of encouraging us to change our physical circumstances so as to eliminate the pain and the cause of it.  We can use the pain, if it occurs, as a guide, knowing that it is directing us toward a solution.  And the solution must begin in our own minds.

How Did Women Give Birth In The Bible?

Exodus 1:15-21 tells us, "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives,whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 'When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.'  The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.  Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, 'Why have you done this?  Why have you let the boys live?' The midwives answered Pharoah, 'Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.' So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own."

The midwives themselves said it best - "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women."  Because the Hebrew women feared God, their births were somehow different.  Not only did God bless their births spiritually, but their birth practices were different.  Egyptian women who were used to lying around and being waited on hand and foot gave birth in the same manner, passively lying on a bed, enduring the experience.  Hebrew women, according to this passage, were vigorous throughout their births, and gave birth often with no help from anyone before the midwife arrived, or gave birth in an upright position on a birth stool if the midwife got there before the birth took place.  It also stated that, even if the midwife did arrive in time for the birth, that her task was simply to "observe" them on the birth stool.  She was a trained observer who watched for difficulties, but otherwise stayed out of the way.  For centuries, this is the way all women of faith gave birth.

It seems clear that having a successful, victorious childbirth experience depends upon two main factors:

1.  Learning to recognize and defeat the deceptions of childbirth.
2.  Learning to give birth in the simple, vigorous, and active
     way that God intended. 

Lots of Christian women DO have pain in childbirth, and many have died in childbirth over the centuries.  Some still die today.  Why?

Mainly, because they have bought into the world's deceptions about childbirth.
Christian women still have pain in childbirth because they continue to be deceived, and because they choose to give birth passively according to the ways of the world.  Also, not enough Spiritually-based, self-empowering childbirth classes are available, and women are not educating themselves about how to change their birth experience.  In a very small percentage of women, there is an actual complication which would cause pain, but normally the body will use the pain to direct the woman how to resolve the situation.

Your birth can be an empowering, transforming experience.  Educate yourself about how to give birth safely without medical intervention.

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     Judie McMath

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Copyright 2014  Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living


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