About 4 days after I gave birth to my first child, my daughter Gillian, I took her with me to church. It was a Friday night, and we attended our Messianic Congregation. I remember vividly one of the men there looking shocked that I would be out of my house. He mentioned his disapproval, saying that I should have stayed home a few more days. At the time, I thought it was because he was concerned for Gillian's safety. That I shouldn't have brought someone so young, with such a young immune system, into a room full of people.
But I later figured out that he was referring to Leviticus 12.
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to the Israelites: 'A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding. 6 'When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. 'These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.' "
No, I can't understand why something so natural, something that God Himself created as a means to bring new people into the world, would make a woman unclean. And I don't know whether or not God still considers women who have recently given birth to be unclean for over 2 months afterwards. (although I'd be totally willing to say that I needed to obey this particular command if I actually thought Ben would let me stay in bed for 2 months after giving birth, unable to touch any pots or pans or washing machines or bathroom floors...I would have loved to just stay in bed, cuddling with my new little love.)
But what I see when I read this passage has little to do with the woman. What I see is no mention whatsoever that this new baby is unclean. This little baby who has been inside his or her mama with all her particular germs and juices, who literally swam in them for 9 months and was pushed through the birth canal, along with her blood, is apparently clean as can be.
Have you ever seen a newborn baby? Ever been blessed with being studied by new eyes and reached out for by little dimply, chubby hands? Ever calm a crying baby just by calling out its name and having the baby relax when it recognizes your voice?
Then you have seen innocence. Innocence so pure that no matter how many times it is touched, kissed, fed, and cuddled by its unclean mama, it remains clean.
I hope that when I get to heaven, my new body will be like that of a baby's. Washed by the blood of the Lamb, a blood so cleansing that the stain of my sins can no longer be seen.