Purity for Childbirth
The purity spoken about in the Bible refers to a pure heart, one that is 100% focused on pleasing Christ. Sometimes our hearts get focused on something other than Christ, we think we can be fulfilled by something other than Christ. When we start thinking that what we really need to be happy is ________ (fill in the blank yourself), then that thing becomes an idol in our lives. For example, some people serve an idol of money thinking if they can just get more they will be happy. Other people serve an idol of prestige, seeking to have everyone think well of them.
There is nothing wrong with money or power or a good reputation. In fact, many Christians will receive these things in their lives. The problem comes in when pursuing these things become more important than seeking Christ. When the goal becomes money or power or reputation instead of growing closer to Christ you are serving an idol. Pregnancy and childbirth have their idols just like any other area of life.
It can be difficult to tell if you are serving an idol or Christ by looking just at your outward appearance. As far as I can understand, God doesn't care so much "how" I give birth because the physical aspects of giving birth don't change eternity. Whether I use every intervention and have a cesarean surgery or have a home birth alone with my husband doesn't matter in God's judgment of me. God doesn't judge by the outward appearance as men do, instead he judges the heart. I believe God's judgment of how I handle my life has less to do with what I do as it does with why I do it.
The Chocolate Cake Analogy
Imagine two people eating a big slice of chocolate cake. These two people are doing the same thing, eating a piece of cake. However, their hearts may be involved in the experience differently. The first person may be joyfully celebrating a birthday with a loved one, thanking God for the experience. The second may be eating a slice to indulge her greed and gluttony. The first person is enjoying a blessing from God, while the second is sinning - but they are doing the same thing. God does not judge the external, he looks at the heart.
When I am trying to judge my actions to keep them in line with God, I must always check my heart. I need to know what is going on, why I am making the decisions I am making. It is in the reasons why I am doing what I am doing that I will discover if my heart is pure. Two specific examples are given for you, however the list of potential idols around childbirth is much longer than two.
Birth Idols: Painless Birth
For many women, the expectation of pain in childbirth strikes fear into their hearts. There are techniques that can be employed to reduce or eliminate pain in labor. By themselves, these techniques are neither good nor bad. They are only tools that can be used to further your purposes. Tools can be used for good or for bad; to bring glory to god or to indulge in my sinful nature. On its own, the tool is neither evil nor good; sinful nor blessing. It is how I use that tool that makes my actions sinful or blessing.
I don't personally know anyone who would consider the desire to decrease pain a bad purpose. As Christians we are to comfort each other, and we can assume some of the comforting is to be done through physical pain. However, when the goal for labor becomes to feel no pain you might have a problem.
For some women this desire for a painless birth may come from a heart that longs to feel powerful or strong, that she is able to overcome easily what other women could not. Some childbirth preparation materials suggest a woman should feel no pain or she is "doing" something wrong which leads some women to seek a painless birth out of the desire to be right or show she has better knowledge than others.
For other women the desire for a painless birth comes from a fear of pain and lack of faith in God to help her. Some women desire a painless birth out of laziness; she doesn't want to take the time or effort to learn ways to cope and would prefer to not be bothered with having to. Some women pursue a painless birth out of a spirit of selfishness.
Birth Idols: Perfect Figure
It is possible to be in good physical shape and have your body regain its form quickly after giving birth. It is also possible to be in good physical shape and to have your body take months before you fit comfortably in your clothes again. There is nothing inherently righteous in looking a particular way, although if you are particularly gluttonous it usually shows in your figure. Yet for some women, the idea of looking a particular way after giving birth becomes an idol that prevents them from making the best choices for the health of themselves and their babies.
Do the work it takes to stay healthy during pregnancy, but be aware of your heart. If you find yourself believing your changing body makes you a less valuable person it might be an indication you are basing your worth on your physical body instead of on your being a child of God. If fears of not being acceptable keep you from eating or force you to exhaust yourself with exercise, you might need to rethink who you are trying to impress.
Interested in having a Christian Childbirth? Read the Christian Childbirth Handbook.