(Note: This post is written to support the work of my wife. Check out her business called Birth by Design. Second, I take it as an opportunity to demonstrate how the Christian faith truly can influence every area of our life. Enjoy. Comment. Share.)
The human body represents a fascinating example of God's infinite creativity to bring together powerful and intimate movements, complexity and simplicity in regards to design, diversity and unity in regards to color. However you perceive the existence of a transcendent being or transcendence in general, our perceptions arrive through the faculties of sight, touch, sound, taste, and thought. The human body represents a living entity which draws us near to God through our various activities of the human body.
The Christian tradition provides mankind an opportunity to rejoice in the human body through the knowledge of the Incarnation. The Incarnation or enfleshment of God, communicates the beauty and validity of the human body. God implicitly reveals the human body has value and while that value does transcend God who becomes human as you or I; the Incarnation nonetheless says to mankind the human body has monumental significance. Therefore, the Christian writer affirms the significance of the Incarnation and the human body by stating he and others know God through all of the various faculties of the human body (1 John 1:1-3).
The incarnation provides new meaning to the human body and all of our various functions. Our senses, desires, needs, and activities now contain meaning which draws us closer to a transcendent and immanent God(1). Therefore, this new meaning-which was present before our human existence- serves as a mediator between what we perceive as mundane and what we inwardly know to be larger than life.
The female human body like the male human body possesses specific anatomical parts which function to provide pleasure and provision. As we stand in our mirrors, all of us can observe that some aspects of the human body possess dual functions which benefit another individual or ourselves when appropriately used. Our mouths offer encouragement to a stranger and serve as the door of nutrition for our bodies. Our hands work to heal an open wound and caress the face of a loved one. What does this specifically have to do with the pleasure and provision of the female breasts?
Western American culture hyper-sexualizes the female breasts while it rejects the nutritional value of the female breasts. The hyper-sexualization of breasts through mediums such as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Worldstar Hip-Hop, Maxim, and television communicates the meaning of the female breasts as body parts to be the object of alluring males and females on a large scale. While the objectification of women transcends cultural boundaries and has historical evidence; how common place is it for a female or male to create their own "Maxim" page through various mediums today? Contrast the hyper-sexualization of the female breasts to the culturally unacceptable activity which is public breastfeeding or baby-feeding with a breast. Recently, Karlesha Thurman graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in accounting and she made the news for doing what she considers as "natural and normal"(2). Karlesha, recognized her child was hungry and she fed her child. What does not make the highlight is this woman's accomplishment as a mother and graduate. When we should celebrate her discipline and hard work to achieve a degree while serving as a mother, the article title itself implies, culture does not perceive the public feeding of a child as natural. Do we observe the inconsistency and the inability to perceive the true meaning of the female breast as it relates to pleasure and provision?
The Pleasure of the Female Breasts
The female breasts are indeed for sexual pleasure symbolized as delight, strength, and grace in the body of a woman. The woman and more specifically the wife, has a unique purpose to provide pleasure for her husband through the enjoyment of her breast. The Christian tradition celebrates a woman as a fountain of delight in which the man finds his satisfaction (Proverbs 5:19). The breast of a woman represent strength and grace which God has uniquely designed to be a source of pleasure in a mutual and loving relationship (Song of Solomon 4:5; 7:3). I want to extend a word of comfort to women who are currently fighting through breast cancer, a mastectomy or double mastectomy. The above statements in no way diminish your significance as a woman nor prevent you from discovering meaning that leads to a transcendent and immanent God. Your lack of flesh or the experience of a cancer treatment illuminates your faculties to draw near to God who in his own flesh has suffered. You would indeed be in lasting despair if the meaning of the female breast rested in the breast. But because of the lack of breast(s) the new meaning based on his incarnation actually leads you to comfort because he knows fleshly pain intimately. Therefore, whether you are a woman who is able to ravish her husband with your breast or you are woman who must look at your chest with a scar, know that the female breast leads both man and woman to pleasure and delight in God who is strength and grace.
The Provision of the Female Breasts
As I have stated above, the human body has many body parts with dual roles. Is it not amazing, that the same breasts which offer pleasure and comfort in the bedroom, offer provision and comfort for a child? Similar to the intimacy of a husband and a wife, there is a unanimity that occurs between a mother and a child. The female human body with its unique design experiences a preparation specifically with the female breast, to become the primary source of nutrition for a new baby. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) states, female breast begin to produce colostrum during the second trimester. Colostrum, a precursor to milk, supports a child in his or her nutritional needs. The APA states these changes in the female breast represent normal developments for a woman "preparing for arrival" of her baby (3). The Christian tradition states the female breasts function as provision for a child and such provision serves as meaning towards the knowledge of God. "Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts" (Psalm 22:9). Imagine as you observe a mother providing nutrition for her child, she also participates in a mystery of awakening trust in the child to herself and God who himself became a nursing child on the breast of his mother. Breastfeeding public and private is not only natural, it offers eternal meaning. The female breasts and the specific activity of breast feeding provides a child and his mother the opportunity to discover the true meaning of their bond; trust in God.
What I hope we would walk away with is the reality that the human body is a visible representation of a transcendent God who gives full meaning to the activities and purposes of our bodies. Our bodies function to bring pleasure and provision for ourselves and one another in appropriate contexts and appropriate relationships. The female breasts serve marriages to stimulate pleasure and delight, ultimately leading to pleasure in God who is both strength and grace. Equally important, the nursing mother in public and private represents a beautiful and natural activity of provision which stimulates health and opens the door to trust in God who provides all things.
1. This idea is drawn from C.S. Lewis from a sermon titled, "Transposition" 28 May 1944.
2. Kathy Ehrich Dowd, Controversial or Natural? Photo of Mom Breastfeeding at College Graduation Causes Stir, People Magazine, June 12, 2014.
3. American Pregnancy Association, http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/breastchanges.htm, Accessed 6 June 2014.