Shifting perspectives is something that I strive for everyday. How can I look at this a different way? How would someone else look at this? Where am I limitation-wise? What is currently keeping me from seeing this a different way? These questions have shaped every aspect of my theology and therefore my life. The root of these questions comes from one major perspective change that I had in college.
During a class on theodicy, God’s justice, I was tasked with putting God on trial and being the persecuting and defending attorney. In all my reading of other people’s theodicies, I slowly developed my own. One changed the perspective on the basis of my faith and on suffering especially was the idea that we gained the knowledge of good and evil from the tree. This is when sin and suffering and death entered the world. When I pictured Eden prior to reading this, I pictured a paradise. Peaceful, hippie paradise. In some ways it was, but now I have changed the way I look at it. I believe that things would have existed in the much same way without the knowledge that it was good or evil. Prior to the knowledge that things could be different, one becomes accustomed to the way things are. There is no good or evil in it just life. Now a curse, Eve was made to be a help-mate, then just the way she was made to be. Nakedness is still nakedness, we just think of it differently. Much as a child who has grown up, our perspective was radically changed as we began to see certain things as fair and unfair; good and evil. Stress entered our bodies and shame. The chemicals produced in our bodies causes disease. The tension we now could feel with God’s justice strained our relationship. Our minds create sin as we now know the difference between good and evil and choose to act on what we feel is evil. (James 4:17; Romans 14:14). There is still nothing evil of itself. Not death, not pain. it is how we use it and think of it that makes it fundamentally evil or good. As a side-note, this is where I feel Buddhism has developed it’s primary theology.
But what does this theology have to do with my birthing experience? Well everybody says that childbirth was painless prior to the fall. But God says that Eve’s sorrow or pain will be multiplied in childbirth. (Gen 3:16) Not that she had no pain before and now suddenly has pain. This idea has shaped the way that many strict Christians give birth. Some yell out at Eve during childbirth. Some believe that to feel no pain is somehow disrespectful of our earned curse. Neither of these ideas has affected my perspective on birthing. I am choosing a natural childbirth, but not because I deserve to feel pain. I have chosen it because it is more safe and because this pain is not unfair. This pain will be just productive pain or productive uncomfortableness. I have done nothing wrong. I do not need to feel punished. I do not need to experience pain to join a feminist he-woman club or hippie. I choose to have natural childbirth because that’s the way I was designed to give birth. I am not sick or ailing and need no medical intervention to make things easy or fair. Whether or not Eve was cursed with a painful childbirth, my childbirth experience will not affect my relationship with God. It’s something I bear because I am woman, not because of a curse or a blessing. It is something that happens to me and I accept that without holding on to fear, anger, or feeling put upon. It’s the meditation that this is about me and my baby, and very much about the moment. The past has no place in my birthing experience.