Breastfeeding in church?

breastfeeding in church

I’m a pretty big proponent of moms doing their thing. Moms deal with long hours, spending most of their time with kids, and generally have a thankless job. They work hard for no or little pay!  Mamas are great. My wife is one. Some of my best friends are moms.

Apparently in Fort Worth, Texas, a mama battle is brewing. It breaks my heart that folks can be so harsh on the mamas. And, the battle surrounds a church, of all places. reports:

Three simple letters — “Ick” — set off a firestorm after being published as part of a response to a question about the propriety of breastfeeding during a church service… The article — titled Distracting Behavior — resulted in hundreds of e-mails, phone calls, and Facebook posts bashing Molly Forthright’s “For What It’s Worth” advice column in the March issue of Fort Worth Magazine.

“I was in church last Sunday, and a woman in the row ahead of me began breastfeeding halfway through the service,” said the person seeking advice in the article. “I’m a big proponent of women breastfeeding their babies, but it was very distracting during a time that I wanted to focus on the sermon … What is proper church etiquette?”

How did the columnist respond?

“Ick. I know that many think a woman providing nourishment to her baby is a beautiful and natural thing, but putting on a show in the house of the Lord is unacceptable in my book,” Forthright replied. “In fact, I can’t think of a place in public where I would want to ever see that.”

The fallout from breastfeeding-gate brought a threat of a nurse-in outside the magazine’s headquarters in Fort Worth.

It is not clear the circumstances surrounding breastfeeding in this church. As a pastor, I don’t have a problem with breastfeeding in church. Moms have fed their children in my church. Usually, moms are pretty discreet about it.  Our church features comfortable “gliders” for nursing moms.  I can only imagine in Jesus’ day, when moms were in the temple, mothers had to breastfeed when their baby was hungry. I see breastfeeding in church as a mom doing what moms do.

What do you think? Is breastfeeding in church what mothers should do? Or, thou shall not breastfeed in thy church? 

Alan Rudnick

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About the Author
Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education.

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    Anyone who has a problem with a breastfeeding mom is deeply disturbed. We live in a society where the human body is viewed as a vile and sinful vessel full of iniquity. From people who take issue with breastfeeding to others who think nudity is a hell worthy offense, narrow thinkers have permanently scarred impressionable young minds and turned them into bitter old ones-or worse yet, victims of self image disturbances.

    It is thinking like this that turns off so many people toward church and inevitably, Christ.
    As a Christian, I am appalled that these people are the ones who are heralded as the ambassadors of my faith. So to al you out there, if you moms want to breastfeed where ever and when ever your babies are hungry, have at it. And if you want to be naked in your backyard, do that as well. When did we get so uptight? We are born with no clothes, for Pete’s sake.

  • Ivan Schoen

    What HULUGN said!

  • James Jones

    I also agree with HULUGN.

    However, being an athiest, I suppose I have a little of my own “outside” input, as well.

    “Ick” seems to be a pretty strange response to a breast-feeding mother, given that a half-naked, half-starved gentleman nailed to a crucifix is front and center. Also, Christianity has led to some of the most beautiful artwork in the history of the world, and, to my knowledge, a decent portion of it includes nude/topless women.

    Church attendance, to me, is supposed to be a celebration of humanity under God. There are few things that speak to that effect better than the miracle that is a new-born being fed by the body of its mother.

    If Christ were reborn, would He be allowed to be breastfed in His house?

    But, that’s just an athiest’s input, and I sincerely hope that I did not offend in my comment, nor by commenting in general, as it is arguably not at all my say.

    –mister. jones

    • MamaSaya

      Well, I’m a chilean christian mom, i do breastfeed my son and my daughter (even in church), and i’m totally agree with you!

      • James Jones

        Good for you!!
        And thank you!

  • Adele Henderson

    I don’t see any problem with a woman breast feeding her child in church or anywhere outside her home. That fact that the word ‘ick’ was used leads me to think the writer may have their own issues with their body. It is purely an emotional response not cognitive in any capacity. It is truly a gift that God gives women the ability to give birth and then also be the source of life for this new creation. What better place for a woman to feed her child but in the church, the Lord’s house.

  • Steve Stutzman

    Nobody has really mentioned how covered she was. I think that takes a different view to it all together. If she was discreet, had one of those covers that allow her to nurse without being revealed, I don’t really see how that should been a problem for anyone in the church.

    But I have heard of cases, specifically comes to mind a responsive sit in by breast feeding mothers at a Target I believe in Texas, where the mother isn’t really discreet at all. Under no cover or attempt at modesty, “everything” gets unpacked and gawkers are the ones with the problem. This is completely unnecessary and unthoughtful.

    While some regard breast feeding as “beautiful” or “natural part of motherhood” which it is, it’s not a good basis for it being acceptable for the public eye. Sexual relations between a husband and wife are both beautiful and nature but if a couple start shredding their clothes and clamoring over one another, I wouldn’t sit there and think “well, it’s beautiful, natural, and God-given… it’s ok to watch.” I could give other examples but you get the point. Whether I’m at church, at a football, school, wherever, breast feeding is a special kind of intimacy for a mother and child alone. If she has one of those “pop up hide-a-aways” great use that. Otherwise, she should either pump and use a bottle or find a secluded spot.

    Yes, I had three children breast feed but for goodness sake’s be thoughtful of other people. I’m sorry, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

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