Recent experiences and conversations in the past few years have led Kathleen and myself to have many conversations of our own about the nature of child-bearing from a Christian perspective.
A few thoughts to begin with:
1) Children are a blessing from God. That much is clear from Scripture. Family is to be celebrated and cherished. We affirm that human personhood is present from conception until death.
2) Pain in childbirth is a part of the human experience, as per Genesis 3. One of the consequences of the Fall is INCREASED pain in childbirth. This brings up a whole hosts of issues regarding pain and suffering pre-Fall and post-Fall, but that’s for another time.
3) Scientific advances and their application in medicine are generally gifts from God to be used for His glory. There are a few hard sticky points that are deserving of much thought and contemplation, but for the most part, medicine is not to be seen as some evil being perpetrated on the people of God, as an attempt to “play God.”
As such, one issue that has been on our minds of late is the nature of child-birthing itself. I have not personally read any of the many books out there, regarding various methods and philosophies, but I have had numerous conversations with folks, to the extent that I feel like I can make a few preliminary comments about the way some of these things come across. I am not a trained theologian, so I cannot make specific criticisms of specific arguments, but I have noticed certain trends.
As noted above, pain is a part of childbirth. Increased pain is a result of the Fall. Limiting pain in childbirth should not be seen as some sin, anymore than limiting pain in another part of our life. Again, this ties into the nature of pain and suffering, and we don’t have time to deal with this, but I do not see childbirth as a special case where Christians are somehow not allowed to limit pain, but allowed to do so in other cases.
Similarly, caesarean section deliveries are also not some evil being perpetrated on Christian women. There are many medically valid reasons why women should get C-sections, either for the first time, or after a previous C-section. The Church should not be implying that women who have C-sections are somehow less Godly or sanctified than women who do not. Having or not having certain medical interventions are usually in and of themselves not necessarily evil or good. Their “morality” is dictated by the larger issues of medical need, caring for the people (mom and baby) involved, and doing what is in the best interest for all, since pregnancy and childbirth is not a “benign” and risk-free process. As such, technology and science, like in any other part of life, ought to be used within reason, as part of what God gave us to use on this planet.
However, that is not to say that there may not be underlying attitudes towards child-bearing and family that ARE problematic and at odds with a proper Christian attitude towards these things.
There are no doubt Christian couples who have erroneous ideas about the nature of sex, children, family, and child-bearing, and those need to be addressed. But the erroneous ideas are rarely so obvious as “Y’know what? I think children are evil and God’s curse to humanity.” As such, I feel like the Church needs to be very upfront about digging deep into these issues, but not so shallow as to assume that C-sections or epidurals are obvious signs of sin, or at least spiritual immaturity.