My friend Tulipgirl is hosting her annual truth-about-Ezzo week starting on Monday, and since Im leaving town tomorrow, I wanted to put some thoughts into the conversation that I’ve been pondering lately.
Also, I want to say, that my heart’s desire is to speak lovingly. I think Ezzo teaches several false, misguided, dangerous things, but I never want to be disrespectful of an individual mother. Please don’t take my criticisms of Ezzo as a criticism of anyone personally. We all love our children and want to raise them to love the Lord. (And I have plenty of areas of motherhood I just plain stink at, and I desperately need God’s Spirit to live in me each day, so I offer these thoughts in humility, wanting to speak the truth in love.)
The context of these thoughts grew out of my visiting what I later learned to be an Ezzo-promoting church. The pastor speaking about childrearing that day made one comment (scenario) about breastfeeding, and I got to thinking afterwards, why do parents have to be trained to be suspicious of their baby’s desire to breastfeed? Hence, the approach of my following comments. . . .
Is the baby’s desire to breastfeed something we should be suspicious of?
According to Ezzo, the answer is yes. We see this through Ezzo’s use of controlled access, strict timing, and breast-only-as-food (not emotional comfort).
And while Ezzo does weave some elements of God’s nature into his method (like “order”), let’s put aside his conclusions for a moment and examine anew: What is Scripture’s view of and approach to breastfeeding? Is Ezzo’s way really an expression of God’s heart for babies and children at the breast? Does God encourage mothers to breastfeed the way Ezzo is promoting?
(The format of this post: I will make some comments about verses, then quote the verses.)
Look in these verses at God’s expression of breastfeeding as a blessing, of being happy and satisfied, emotionally comforted and delighted; as the breast and mother’s arms being the natural place a child belongs:
“Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.” For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isa 66:10-13)
In the following verses, are there any expressions of control or suspicion of breastfeeding children? Or rather, are they shown praising God and their breastfeeding is a normal stage of life? Nothing is said about control, motive, or timing. In fact, “nursing” is a description of their very childhood!
But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast prepared praise for Thyself’?” (Mat 21:15-16)
Here, God is displaying His tender care and gentleness to His children. His words evoke warmth and feelings of love and safety. He is showing us how He, God Himself, treats the “nursing” lambs—and that is you and me. We are God’s nurslings.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. (Isa 40:11)
Here again, any suspicion? Control? Rather, again, “nursing” is the child’s one descriptive written in this verse. And again, it describes us as God’s children. We are objects of God’s compassion; He will never forget us. And can a mother forget and not have compassion on her nursing child? The rhetorical answer is no. There’s no way a mom could or should forget her nursing child; there’s no way she should not have compassion on her baby. Although God’s answer assumes it’s possible. . . What is Ezzo wanting to teach us?
Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. (Isa 49:15)
Paul uses a “nursing mother” to describe his gentleness to these believers. Let’s be sure that those who are teaching us how to mother teach us this gentleness:
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. (1Th 2:7)
In these verses in Job, even orphans are being breastfed! And those who grab them away from the breast are the wicked ones here, removing food from the needy.
“Others snatch the orphan from the breast, And against the poor they take a pledge. “They cause the poor to go about naked without clothing, And they take away the sheaves from the hungry. (Job 24:9-10)
Here is another sad picture. Animals instinctively offer their breasts, but people can become cruel and refuse to feed their hungry babies.
Even jackals offer the breast, they nurse their young; but the daughter of my people has become cruel like ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the infant cleaves to the roof of its mouth because of thirst; The little ones ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them. (Lam 4:3-4)
Another beautiful picture the Bible gives us of the breast is Jesus’ own breast, when His beloved disciple, John, was reclining there. It’s even mentioned twice by John! Once before Jesus’ death, once after His resurrection:
There was reclining on Jesus’ breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. (John 13:23)
Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper . . . (John 21:20)
Again, I don’t want to offend, but I do want to expose Ezzo’s teaching that binds parent’s consciences regarding the freedom in the Lord that they have to breastfeed how they want/need and to offer comfort from the breast to their babies (Colossians 2:23 may even apply here, rules with an “appearance of wisdom” . . . but lack any true spiritual value).
Ezzo seems even to teach us to have opposite feelings for and evaluations of our children’s desire to breastfeed than what God says. God is showing breastfeeding as a natural descriptive of childhood, a time of special protection and gentleness and care. We need to ask ourselves if Ezzo is really teaching us God’s heart towards our babies.
(*More to come: next topic is the confusion of the baby’s sin nature with the nature of the baby.)