I get some interesting emails.
As listeners to the radio show know, my wife is pregnant with our second child. As a result, I have received some very interesting emails from well-intentioned folks telling me the value of what they call "natural child birth."
First of all, the concept of "natural" is relative. If you're talking "natural," are you talking out in the field like the pioneers did? Or is a bedroom okay? What about a hospital without the medicine? It can get confusing for me when we aren't specific.
But I will also add this: if anyone thinks I am about to approach my wife and tell her that she can't have pain medication because I want her to have the baby "naturally," they are nuts. If I'm going to die standing up for something, it's going to be something more important than that.
The truth is that there are those who believe that medicine at child birth is somehow violating a Biblical principle. They believe that since God's curse on Creation following the Fall included pain at childbirth, any attempt to alleviate that is denying what God intended. That position is quite lacking in my estimation. And it was beautifully countered in a piece I recently came across at Answers in Genesis:
God told Eve that He would greatly multiply her sorrow and her conception and that in sorrow she would bring forth children (Genesis 3:16). Part of the sorrow of childbearing is the sorrow that comes with bringing another sinner into a world full of strife (Romans 3:23). We do tend to adore our precious babies, but as we raise them we discover they are just as human, fallible, and sinful as we are. Indeed, our children sooner or later prove to us that they need the grace of Jesus Christ as much as we do!
As to the question of whether it is biblically wrong to try to diminish pain in childbirth?a question I have often heard?I would answer with an emphatic "No!" The extreme pain of childbirth is part of the Curse, but so are sickness and death. We live in a cursed world as a result of sin, and that Curse affects all areas of our lives, not just childbirth.
Dr. Tommy Mitchell recently responded to a similar question. He was asked, "Is there some special spiritual level you achieve by suffering through childbirth?" He replied, "No, it's just part of living in a fallen, cursed world. I don't see the pain of childbirth as some special ritual that women must suffer through."
The groaning and travailing in pain by the whole creation as described in Romans 8:18-23 constantly reminds us that we need our Savior and only He can fix our world and our hearts. Nevertheless, in compassion for one another and in imitation of the compassion of our Lord, we try to relieve the suffering of the sick and dying. To suggest that there is anything unbiblical about relieving pain in childbirth as much as is safely possible makes about as much sense as refusing to ease the suffering of the sick and dying.
One other point I would add: Ironically, it's the "natural birth" advocacy that often times dabbles in New Age spirituality that can mislead believers if they become too enamored with it. So based on my understanding of Scripture and my experiences with my wife during the birth of our first child, I say load up the epidural and have it.