We’ve talked about how God didn’t curse women, but gave the natural consequence of pain because of fear entering the world with sin. We also talked about how God bonded us to Him through the horrors of the Cross, intentionally allowing the giving of life (both spiritual and physical) to be linked with a sacrifice.
And knowing those two things caused a chain (granted, only a two-link one) of very important thoughts to pop into my head…
Saved through Childbirth?
Thought number one revolves around a very strange verse found in 1 Timothy 2:
“But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.” – 1 Timothy 2:15
Honestly, it seems a bit of a non-sequitur, even in context. Paul is telling Timothy how he feels women should act in church, and giving biblical reasons why this is…and then he throws this in.
John Piper has an excellent post about how he sees it fitting into the context of the proceeding verses, and I highly encourage you to read it here. He gives good evidence for it to be read as “she will be saved despite childbearing” – i.e. despite the “curse” of pain in childbirth (his words! It’s the only area I disagree with him on in the post!).
Saved through Childbirth
He convinced me, but there is one caveat I’d like to add: because the very act of childbearing does bear striking similarities to what Jesus suffered on the cross (although nowhere NEAR as horrific), a woman’s salvation can be strengthened through childbirth. In fact, I believe that’s the goal of childbirth for believers!
We know what Jesus went through on the cross to bring us eternal life; through childbirth, we get a glimpse of the pain He suffered as we labor to bring about a physical life. As I mentioned last time, this is an incredibly special bond we Christian women get to share with our Savior.
I’m convinced that childbirth was always meant to be a picture of salvation for women, and in that way they are “saved through childbrith.” Their faith is strengthened, and their salvation is made more precious to them through this process. For after experiencing labor, what woman who knows of Christ’s sufferings can take the Easter story lightly? She “knows,” in part, what He went through.
And all of that leads to a very important truth that floored me, and should floor you: if you view childbirth as a means of strengthening your faith, that invariably means you are inviting God into the birthing room with you…
Being a history major and classical studies minor, I’d heard of birth goddesses before, even though they are minor deities and seldom discussed. Since western culture is founded upon Greco-Roman culture, the one that pertains most to us would be Eileithyia. Her name means “she who comes to aid” or “relieve,” but she was also be blamed for elongating labor. Eileithyia was directly under Hera, although Artemis also seems to have had some say in what she did, too.
This is just one childbirth goddess of one culture; every culture would have had them, whether we know of them or not. But no culture had a childbirth god. No god went into the birthing room to help a woman.
Let that sink in for a moment. Of all the cultures in the world, childbirth deities were specifically female. It makes sense, really. Women really only want women in the birthing chamber. However, there’s another important reason: male deities didn’t pay attention to women unless they were getting them pregnant to begin with. And once that happened, they left.
Talk about abandonment! Women were playthings to them. The ancient women could not count on a god to be with them in such a time.
And yet, we have a male God who goes into the birthing room with us.
An Historical Enigma
All of antiquity would laugh at such a thing! What would a male deity be doing in birthing room? Childbirth is for women, after all.
But He is there, with us. Yes, I will have a kind (female) doctor, a good (female) nurse, and an amazing (male) husband to help me through the birth. But I will also have my Lord and Savior, the Chief Physician, the Head Nurse/Doula, the Main Partner Support with me, too.
The God of the universe is there, with me, in the birthing room.
That should humble us. That should floor us. This is an extraordinary thing for a god of any culture to do! And their gods were delegated spheres of influence, and so seemingly weren’t coordinating everything the way our God does.
And if you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s some scripture to back it up:
“Zion says, ‘The Lord has abandoned me; the Lord has forgotten me!’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…’” – Isaiah 49:14-16a
The very fact that God uses the birth of a child to talk about how He will never abandon us shows us that He’s there, with us everywhere…even in the birthing room.
And that should give us great comfort indeed.
 Eileithyia, Accessed July 5, https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Eileithyia.html.