June 28, 2016

Don't Be a Boob

Just yesterday, one of my friends posted an intriguing question of Facebook: Is it proper for a woman to breastfeed a child in a public place? What do you think? Ah, one of those topics that is sure to bring out strong opinions on all sides.

About a dozen people answered, all women, and the broad consensus was “Sure. Just be discreet, and don’t make a show of it.” But as the odds would have it, a couple of people came out on both extremes: “No, never expose yourself in public! It’s gross!” and “Yes, I’ve got my constitutional rights, and no one can stop me!” (I should mention, all of these respondents identified themselves as Christians. I will explain why this is significant, in just a moment.)
As the only man in the discussion, I brought a different perspective: This kind of public display makes us uncomfortable. The response from a couple of the ladies was predictable: “Get over it! My rights are more important than your comfort.” Apparently, I’ve been programmed by my American culture that sees sexual meaning in almost everything.

Honestly, I get it. I do. But…

Several years ago, my wife and I had dinner at the home of a couple who had a newborn. Six weeks old, as I recall. Right in the middle of the meal, the baby fussed. Whereupon Mom opened her blouse (with no bra) and lifted the baby to feed him. Ummm… What’s the protocol for this kind of thing? Should I excuse myself from the table? Pretend that nothing happened? I don’t generally make it habit to engage in casual conversation with half-dressed women. It surprised me that she felt so free to do this, in front of a man she barely knew (me).

This story brought angry retorts from a couple of ladies in the discussion. You see, if this situation makes me uncomfortable, then clearly I’m evil. I’m just a dirty old man who enjoys objectifying women, and blaming them for my own weakness. I should stay away from all women of child-bearing age.

Now, just hold the phone for a cotton-pickin’ minute. News flash: men get excited at the sight of female nudity, however limited. That’s just how it is; it's not as if we have a switch that we can turn on and off, at will. Would you prefer that it be different, between you and your husband? I thought so. 

More “shoulds” and accusations. Your sinful lusts are your problem, not mine.

Here’s the thing that bugs me, more than anything else in the conversation: In defense of their rights, these Christian women cared nothing about the rights or interests of anyone else. I can scarcely imagine a more un-Christian attitude, especially from someone who claims to be defending the cause of Christ. This is not love, it’s hostility. No virtue there.

Incidentally, I practice what I preach. For example: I like beer, and I have every right to drink it. But if my drinking it makes you uncomfortable, I will stop. If my actions tempt you to sin, I will be just as happy with a Pepsi. My rights are not more important than yours, and my Heineken is not more important than you.

But do you have the right to forbid me to drink beer? Never. Just as I won't forbid you from feeding your hungry child. But we can both be reasonable about it. 

I am my brother’s keeper. And so are you. Don't be a boob.

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