(A Message about “the Visible Breast” for Christian Leaders

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by Rev. David L. Hatton, RN
“You will nurse and be satisfied from her comforting breasts. You will nurse to your heart's delight at her full breasts . . . . As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you....” ---The Creator (Isaiah 66:11,13a, God's Word Translation) od made us physically in His spiritual image with male and female body parts. The woman's body has breasts for a physical reason: to feed babies; and for a spiritual reason: to display our Maker's own nurturing nature. As a mother cuddles and nourishes her infant near her heart, so God enfolds us in His bosom for spiritual comfort and provision. Nathan J. Stone in The Names of God challenges other theories by calling shad (“nursing breast”) the root for El Shaddai (“Almighty”), thereby describing God as the omnipotent Provider and Sustainer of life. When Peter wrote, “Desire God's pure word as newborn babies desire milk,” (1 Peter 2:2a, GWT), he knew his readers would visualize an infant nursing on a mother’s breast. That’s what early Christians routinely saw all around them. This biblical view of breasts should still illustrate the Divine Source of our spiritual growth, but does it? At seeing a baby latched on a breast, do we contemplate our delight from feeding on God's Word and our comfort from resting in His “everlasting arms,” or do we immediately regard the woman’s bare breast as a stimulus for sexual lust? How refreshing and healing it would be for today's sex-obsessed society if normal and natural breast exposure could again arouse the wholesome and holy thought-pattern God ordained. From years of working with naked breasts, I know it can. Although breasts are extremely ordinary feminine organs, God chose to transform their physiological design into a lofty spiritual metaphor about Himself. However, open breastfeeding is a spectacle rarely witnessed in public today, and almost never in churches. Tragically, this sacred visual aid is shunned due to slander against its central component, the visible breast. Rather than welcoming the frank display of nursing breasts in social and congregational life, we think it

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“proper” to hide them in “cry rooms” and toilet stalls. Treating this unique God-portrait as an obscenity is against both Scripture and sound theology. Yet most Christians bless and mimic such behavior, not realizing that God meant this area of a woman’s body to be sacramentally instructive. Do we honor the Designer of breasts by calling their natural exposure “indecent,” or do we malign Him? The voice that decries a pornographic portrayal of breasts is hypocritical if it refuses to stop misrepresenting their practical, God-intended visibility as something “lewd.” That we ever helped target women’s breasts for such an unholy social insult significantly tarnishes the church’s credibility. Never should breasts be sexually flaunted, whether by suggestive dress or by seductive undress. But neither should their symbolic message ever be customarily smothered under so-called “nursing” blankets—a practice in itself deceptively suggestive that breasts are by nature seductive. Just like a pulpit, God set them in a very prominent, noticeable location on women. Obviously He wanted them easily recognized, maybe because He intended their functional reflection of His divine image to be forever remembered (even throughout a woman’s lifetime, whether she ever nurses or not). So perhaps the prudish ought to be the ones made to carry the nursing blankets. Shouldn’t they be expected to cover up their heads in the presence of naked breasts to prevent the display of a perverted sense of embarrassment from leading any curious “young eyes” astray? That more proper use of a nursing blanket would earmark the real problem—a heart problem—behind this immature and truly obscene perception of “the visible breast.” Despite the West’s arrogance in trying to dress the rest of the world in its own cultural garb, some people groups still exist where naked breasts are an everyday, nonsexual sight. By contrast, our own religious culture has turned them into sexualized objects by labeling them “provocative” or “tempting.” Such a re-naming of breasts unnaturally isolates them from their true status as a common but dignified feature of womanhood. When Christians contribute to this unbiblical redesignation, we abandon what is unquestionably God’s creative domain, allowing the porn industry to claim it as their own territory. This unholy surrender has forfeited breasts, along with the rest of the body, to sexually exploitive abuses. In all honesty, this form of spiritual and theological neglect must be acknowledged as sin. God wants women respected as persons and their physical attributes accepted as integral parts of their feminine identity. The only attitude about breasts that deserves the name “Christian” is one that sees them exactly as their Maker does. Of all people in the world, Christian believers should welcome with grateful praise the sight of breasts, whenever and wherever they are displayed in socially wholesome ways. The Western church’s consent to a redefinition of breasts in terms of body shame laid the essential groundwork for their widespread misuse in pornography. American society in particular has become perversely and progressively breast-obsessed. This notorious religious and social breast-sexualization betrays women and defames the One who structurally crafted their bodies, but Christians seem blind to this and unwittingly participate in it by precept. That Christians raised up and made people bow down to a taboo that depicts women’s breasts as sex objects is tantamount to cultural idolatry. Our breast taboo insults both the Creator’s intelligence and His artistic handiwork, yet the church scrupulously endorses it. Sanctioning this taboo as a religious principle not only erodes an incarnational view of creation, but sinfully “misses the mark” of God’s view of reality. Adopted in its place is a twisted view that facilitates the lustful deception of men and the sexually degrading exploitation of women.

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The message of body shame in the breast taboo directly supports the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which denigrates both the created world and human bodies. These ideas have no place in a Christian’s mind or mouth. The Gospel is dynamically incarnational. Christ’s physical Incarnation and bodily Resurrection testify that our physical bodies are worthwhile creations that God deemed worthy of redemption. Rather than proclaiming an impure message about the human body, we must recognize and teach its proper destiny in God’s salvation plan. All our body parts, including women’s breasts, are gifts from God. He never intended any of them to become objects of vulgarity and shame, but of praise and thanksgiving. Holiness is not determined by religious tradition or the status quo, but it can be undermined by both. Christian leaders must soberly scrutinize their teaching habits to see if they have contributed to an unholy, pornographic view of breasts. I felt horrible when I realized my own guilt in this. The path back to social sanity—and back to correctly honoring the Designer of breasts—is to return to the healthy perspective in Scripture. Such a reformation would morally empower Christian mothers to glorify God by breastfeeding their infants openly. Their exposed breasts would publicly demonstrate God's design for them. It would treat them realistically, as normal parts of the female body, not as sexual commodities perversely chained to the distorted value-system of a misled culture. Christians are spiritually obligated to confess and repent of their corporate sins and to make restitution. Since the church helped establish the erroneous“breast taboo” by inserting a culturallyspawned prudery into the pure message of the Gospel, it’s the moral duty of church leaders to undo this error. Preaching vain imaginations about breasts—or, for that matter, about any other anatomical parts of our fleshly “temple,” which God desires to indwell—must cease. Instead, we must embrace and proclaim the truth about our bodies. Only the truth will set our society free from its toxic, pornographic obsession with our God-designed body parts. We may fail to correct this error during our lifetimes, but we should go to our graves fighting it. To teach, by precept or by custom, the pretense that God created breasts as sex objects—playthings for men’s lust—is a grossly anti-Christian contribution to the lascivious objectification of women. To tolerate or promote a cultural sexualizing of any part of God’s image is to present our bodies and conform our minds to worldly thinking (Romans 12:1-2). To reverse such a mistaken mental capitulation, we must liberate men and women from the social deception of body shame. That objective, I believe, echoes the heart of God Himself, Who, in creating the human body, intentionally invested His magnificent glory in every single part of its “fearfully and wonderfully made” structure. Christian leaders, surrender your cultural loyalties to your King. Nursing women of God, pray for public courage to shamelessly bare the truth in breastfeeding! Men of God, praise and bravely defend them for doing so, even if it means challenging the popular but false religious teaching of the breast taboo. Our faithful commitment to our Creator, and to the formation of purity in future generations, demands it! (www.pastordavidrn.com – pastordavidrn@gmail.com)

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