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In this article, you will find EPISODE 07! It was first published Tuesday, March 3, on your favorite listening platform.
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Hi, and welcome to the CHOSEN podcast, where we explore birth + faith with a doula lens. I am your host, Katherine Newsom, writer + doula at Simple Natural Mama.com.
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EPISODE 08 // HOW KNOWING WE ARE CHOSEN AFFECTS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF BIRTH, THROUGHOUT BIBLICAL TIMES TO TODAY
Childbirth has existed since the first woman, Eve, gave birth. God designed birth, God values pregnancy, Jesus walks alongside you in pregnancy, and the Gospel redeems and transforms pregnancy. Our lives are proof of this. As a Christian woman, we can honor our faith during labor in many ways, one of the most important, perhaps for the growth of our faith, is by understanding the history of birth in the Bible and today.
In fact, Scripture is teeming with metaphor relating birth to God and His chosen nation, Israel; An understanding of this overall arc in Scripture, further completed by God made flesh in Jesus Christ, works to enhance our understanding of childbirth and marvel at how God chose a woman for such a pivotal role in his story. Because He chose you, and in knowing this, our understanding of birth and the Bible is completely illuminated.
The verbiage used in Scripture which God speaks to us about labor and birth, or rather it was for analogy or lesson by using metaphor, should have a great pull in our view of labor. A consistent way God speaks to His chosen people, first the nation of Israel, and second, those of us whose faith is in Christ, is through metaphor. In fact, the Old Testament often related God to giving birth to the nation Israel such as in Isaiah 42, and the New Testament related a spiritual rebirth by Jesus’ work on the cross, in John 3.
With these examples in mind, how does the way labor is discussed in Scripture affect how we view our part in birth and the greater biblical narrative today?
Remember the premise surrounding Chosen; where we explore the intersection of birth and faith; Where we know in every fiber of our being that God called us individually, from our mother’s womb – He knew us, by name, hair color, temperament, shoe size, and all. If God went to such great lengths for us in the womb and today and tomorrow with the work of the Cross, Him who designed birth itself and chose us to be His vessels for new life, why should we not look to Him to learn more of birth and take an active role in the process?
In truth, Much has changed in the way we view birth from biblical times until today, and we have much to learn. In fact, pregnancy and the act of labor itself isn’t referenced explicitly in the Bible; Mostly it states that a woman became pregnant, then she had a child, and the story continues. So much mystery of her experience and thoughts are not included. Scripture isn’t dripping with instructions on childbirth, but it is teeming with metaphor and language surrounding childbirth and labor.
Indeed, There is still an aura of mystery surrounding childbirth – despite the technologies and advancements – so much is still unknown on the details, the when and how. Mystery is sustained, as well as the discomforts common in pregnancy and labor. What we cannot control is further put into a box in an attempt to reign in on the process, a man-made antidote to fear of God’s design, and in this we limit ourselves.
Yet we do know, It was always a part of God’s plan: if theology is the study of God, we can safely say that childbirth is in fact, theological, as it’s a part of His design for us. There is no way around it – childbirth is a fact of life; Childbirth matters for the future of God’s chosen people and nation – in fact, childbirth matters for the future of humanity. It is woven into every story in the Bible, some more implicitly, others explicitly. Birth history begins at Creation and is shown through Eve, continues through God’s chosen people of the nation of Israel, and lasts today and tomorrow.
Looking at the nation of Israel, conversation around inheritance and firstborn is precedent. Israelites believe and are told directly that their inheritance from God was the land of Canaan, which indeed became the nation of Israel – knowing this chosen land gave hope during years of wandering. This land could only become their nation if there were subsequent children and generations, as noted in a wonderful resource called Women of the Bible. There is no way around it – childbirth is a fact of life; Childbirth matters for the future of God’s chosen people and nation – in fact, childbirth matters for the future of humanity. It is woven into every story in the Bible, some more implicitly, others explicitly. Birth history begins at Creation, continues through God’s chosen people, and lasts today and tomorrow.
There is certainly a more specific birth history notated in the bible; It is clear that midwives managed care, and practice much like the nurse practitioners and midwives today. There are in fact two midwives in the Bible we know by name; Puah and Shiphrah. In Exodus 1:15-20 we find that they feared God and saved male Hebrew newborns alive, in direct opposition to Pharaoh’s edict to kill baby boy’s at birth; Because of this, God honors them by giving the women families of their own.
Also, in Genesis 30:3 we read of a woman in a labor positioned with support, held upright and assisted in her balance, while allowing room for the baby to birth into the hands of the midwife; And another time, in Exodus 1:16, we read of delivery stools, to provide support for the mother in delivery; Typically these stools were made with hand grips, a back to lean against, and a crescent shaped hole in the seat. With these examples we can see that there was much freedom in movement to what suited mom best; we also see this today in many practices.
There is yet another verse from Galatians; It is quite obscure, and you’d almost miss the reference, if you read it all together. It’s definitely not one of the better known verses about the value of life and an unborn child. Yet Galatians 1:15 states, “But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” The first part of this verse references a child in a mother’s womb; by the words set apart before I was born. This is from the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia; It is a direct reference to what he knows of our origin and faith, that we are all set apart by God, and we have all been called out by Him, given His grace, and were known from before we were born.
We were known in our mother’s wombs. Our babies in our wombs are also known intricately by God. We were set apart, sanctified, chosen. The same goes for our children, and every person you know.
And in knowing this, we also grow in our knowledge of and understanding of birth, throughout biblical times to today.
Chosen before birth, chosen for the season of birth, chosen by God. Just like the song No Longer Slaves, based off Psalm 22:10 and written by Bethel music, which states, ”From my mother’s womb, you have chosen me, Love has called my name”
One last biblical reference; In John 16:20-22, Jesus described a woman who endured the pain of labor only to forget that pain in the joy of the arrival of her baby. In the same way, there is sorrow in this world, but when Jesus comes again, His children will forget that sorrow in light of their everlasting joy. (Stay tuned for the biblical affirmation at the end of this episode for more thoughts on this.)
Much has changed in the way we view birth from biblical times until today, and we have much to learn. There is still an aura of mystery surrounding childbirth – despite the technologies and advancements – so much is still unknown on the details, the when and how. Mystery is sustained, as well as the discomforts common in pregnancy and labor. What we cannot control is further put into a box in an attempt to reign in on the process, a man-made antidote to fear of God’s design, and in this we limit ourselves.
Yet it’s by this limit in which we actually cheapen the power of the gospel, the power of God’s word for us. Because by understanding birth in the bible through the lens of a gift, a time which you are chosen for, you in turn alter your view from one of a burden, to one of a gift. As Gloria Furman states in an article for the Gospel Coalition, Childbirth is God’s mercy for us. He chose to give Adam and Eve the gift to multiply after sin, although they deserved death. Yet he chose life for us, as individuals, and he chose to invite us into the birth process, as how he created women. Birth is a precious gift from a holy and just God.
Indeed, knowing we are chosen by God for this season affects our understanding of, or rather lens of birth in the Bible, and today; By knowing this, we can be equipped in the labor to come to hold steadfast to our faith, no matter what happens. Your labor is not in vain; God is with you, mama; Know this Truth, that you are, in fact, Chosen.
// Let us end with a biblical affirmation for labor: Each contraction and pain brings us closer to meeting our answered prayer and fulfilled promise. This labor is not in vain; God is here with me, and my baby is almost here. I can do this, by Christ’s strength! This is based on John 16:21 which states, A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born, she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world”
//*outro music* This episode concludes the first season of the Chosen: Birth + Faith with a Doula lens podcast; I pray you enjoyed it + please do keep in touch! Here are a few ideas: If you long to take this conversation further,You can text the word CHOSEN TO (202) 410-4202 TO BE UPDATED ON NEW BLOG CONTENT VIA EMAIL, as well as to download the rest of the biblical affirmation cards. Or, join us in the CHOSEN podcast closed Facebook group, which is linked to this blog, for exclusive bonuses for listeners, specific to each episode, as well as to continue the conversation. Just search Simple Natural Mama on Facebook, find me on Instagram at @katherinelnewsom, or continue to browse my website here to learn more.
Thank you so much for listening to this first season; stay tuned for season 2 to come.. P.S. It will be Interview style! Feel free to get in touch via the contact form on this page if you’d like to learn more or be a part!