As a follower of Jesus, and in my experience as a volunteer doula and mother of four, there are times when I’ve been asked to explain the Christian perspective of labor and birth. It’s my privilege to talk with ladies from different religions and answer their questions about what the Bible says regarding labor pain and childbirth.
In my local church context I’ve also had opportunities to encourage Christian women, discussing how the Bible renews our minds and addresses our misconceptions. And thrills our hearts with this incredible picture of grace!
Since I don’t have any one place where these thoughts are written down for easy reference, I hope this list will serve as a helpful, go-to resource. These ten points and accompanying Scripture references aren’t comprehensive by any means— I tried hard to be succinct.
It would take weeks to unpack this in discipleship meetings or devotional study, but one could easily encourage someone with one of these truths in a short conversation. Perhaps some who are interested in the topic of labor and birth could use this list like they would a bookmark as they search God’s Word to learn more about the Author of life:
- Childbirth (new physical life) is evidence of God’s mercy. God would have been perfectly just to not allow Adam and Eve to live after they sinned against him in the garden of Eden. Ever since then, we have all been born into sin and deserve death and punishment for our sin (Ps. 51:5). Life is a precious gift from our holy God. Our response to life is heartfelt gratitude to God and humility.
God commissioned Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28), but then as part of the judgment for their sin, God said he would “greatly multiply pain” in being fruitful (Gen. 3:16). In this regard (contra some philosophies of childbirth), a woman’s labor pain is unlike that of a-moral animals.
Birth pains are a specific part of God's judgment on Eve for her sin (Gen. 3:16), pointing us to our need for a Savior. But painful and mortally dangerous pregnancies are not God’s final word, for he has promised a Rescuer (Gen. 3:15)! The pain we experience in childbearing is a call to repentance and faith, like a flashing neon sign that points us to the cross, where Jesus suffered in our place to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9).
All women and babies who are delivered through the pains of labor are recipients of God's undeserved, common grace. (Pain relief--medical or non-medical--is a gift.) Praise God! All people everywhere who are delivered through the Redeemer who was “born of a woman” (Gen. 3:15, Isa. 7:14, Gal. 4:4, 1 Tim. 2:15), are recipients of God’s undeserved, saving grace. What wondrous love!
Jesus is our Redeemer. Shockingly, our Redeemer came into this world as we all did... through the judgment of birth pain. Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we now have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7). We do not have redemption or forgiveness through our fertility.
We do not “trust birth” or our bodies; we place our trust in the living God in whose hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10). The Lord himself is our refuge (Ps. 18:1-2), not any training, experience, person, book, facility, method, or plan.
God is the Creator of everything, including childbirth. From eternity past, God ordained the conversation that would take place in the middle of the night between Jesus and Nicodemus… “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-21). We could infer that one reason Jesus created childbirth was so we could have a picture to help us understand what it means to be converted: called out of darkness into his marvelous light… “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
Both “natural childbirth” and “medical childbirth” are no more human accomplishments than is the act of receiving mercy from God. We all make our boast in Christ alone; Jesus deserves all the praise at all times in all circumstances.
The flexible metaphor of birth pain appears throughout Scripture. In one place, the apostle Paul uses it to explain how our suffering produces future glory. Christians are expectant of a final deliverance from sin and death; however, in this present time we groan [in birth pain] inwardly, as we suffer with Christ, “that we may also be glorified with him.” In his resurrection, Jesus burst through death to become the first man in the new creation. Because of this hope, we believe that our sufferings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:17-25). In other words, the joy of resurrection life outweighs the pain it takes to produce it. This is yet another way that the process of childbirth points us to Christ.
Jesus was delivered up to be crucified in our place for our sin according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by death (Acts 2:22-24). Whenever a woman or child is overcome by death in the process of childbirth, we grieve deeply. Pain and death are not benign "facts of life." But we do not grieve as those who do not have hope, for the Day is coming when the one who overcame the pangs of death will bring to life again those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess. 4:13-14). All our groanings will end when we finally see what we’ve been hoping for as the consummation of God’s promised restoration bursts forth in full (Rom. 8:23-25).