Labor and Redemption is a series of posts that explore childbearing as a picture of God’s redemptive work in salvation history (Salvation history is a term referring to God’s work to secure the salvation and complete redemption of the humans and cosmos dominated by death). “Childbearing” is obviously a term repeated in each part of the series. Childbearing in these posts, like in Scripture, is not bound to the biological process of conceiving and birthing nor does it only speak to biological mothers. Childbearing is a relationship before it is anything else. I use “mother” and “woman” to speak of childbearers because I am speaking of the women in the text and speaking out of my own identity. However, childbearing encapsulates the entire relationship of a child and their caregiver across all variants and complexities. It is a term rich with diversity we can only know when we share our stories. If you at all participate in loving and nurturing any child then you are a childbearer. You have a birth story of your own that you speak out your own identity and experiences as well. I hope that shares these stories helps you discern and speak your own.
God use of childbearing to literally and metaphorically accomplish his work begins in Genesis 3:16, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you will bring forth children.” (NRSV) then Luke 2:7 “she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” and Romans 8:22, which pictures the whole of Creation groaning with the pains of childbirth until that time of Christ’s final, complete redemption of this world.
Outside of these significant markers, pregnancy, labor, and childrearing is common motif throughout the biblical text. Childbearing represents God’s judgement, Christ’s redemptive actions, as well as the believer’s life and ultimate end.
In these posts, I bring my own experiences of labor and mothering into conversation with the birth stories in Scripture. In sum, this is a theologized story.