It is common to hear people speak of the “miracle of birth.” The birth of a child is truly an amazing event that is only possible because of our Creator. Yet the term miracle is often misused and abused by people to simply describe something incredible or coincidental. The miracles described in the Bible, however, are different. Speaking in Biblical terms, is it accurate to describe birth as a miracle?
To answer this question, we need to understand the two ways in which God can operate — directly (through miracles) and indirectly (through providence). Providence relates to what God has ordained in His creation and His word*. Miracles occur when God goes beyond the natural processes of creation and directly intervenes into the lives of men. As we will notice from the Scriptures, childbirth fits into the category of providence, rather than the miraculous.
In the beginning, God miraculously created Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:7, 21-22). The Bible also contains a few examples of miraculous conception — the most notable is the virgin Mary conceiving Jesus (Matthew 1:18-23). But childbirth has been common for all humanity since Eve “gave birth to Cain” (Genesis 4:1). The reason it is common is because of God’s providence.
God designed His creation to be self-sustaining. This does not mean, however, that He has not directly intervened at times. He certainly has. But the natural laws, processes, orders, and designs that He put in place in the beginning have allowed the earth to continue to function even to this day. Ironically, the mocker sees the fact that “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4) as proof that God’s promises are false. Yet it really shows that the “living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them,” has left in creation a “witness” — the natural order of things — in that “He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons” (Acts 14:15, 17).
One of the things God has ordained in creation is that living things would reproduce after their kind. Plants would yield “seed after their kind,” and trees would bear “fruit with seed in them, after their kind” (Genesis 1:12). Sea creatures, birds, and land animals would reproduce “after their kind” (Genesis 1:21, 24). To Adam and Eve, He said, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
After Eve conceived and bore her first son, Cain, she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). God still provides this help today through His providence. What has God provided to make childbirth possible?
God made “male and female” (Genesis 1:27) – One person cannot conceive and bear a child on his/her own. Same-sex couples — which many today argue are no different than heterosexual couples — cannot produce children from their “union.” God made the two sexes distinct and complementary. By God’s design, a man and a woman are both necessary to reproduce. By God’s provision, He created both “male and female” so they could “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28).
God gave women the unique role of bearing children (1 Timothy 2:15; 5:14) – Just as the bodies of males and females were distinctly formed by God to allow the conception of children, He specifically designed the woman’s body for carrying and bearing children.
In addition to a woman’s role of bearing children, God also gave women the ability to handle childbirth – It is certainly true that after Eve’s sin, she would have “pain in childbirth” (Genesis 3:16), and that pain exists for all women who deliver children. But pain does not mean that childbirth is not possible. (It is true that some women are physically incapable of having children, but this is not on account of the pain, but some other condition that prevents her from bearing a child.) Modern advancements in medicine have produced ways to ease the delivery process. Some women even say, perhaps jokingly, that they could not deliver a baby without such modern medicines and procedures. But the fact is that for thousands of years, women have given birth without the modern conveniences to which we have become accustomed. Is this because women of generations past are anatomically different than women today? Of course not. It is because God designed women to be able to conceive and deliver a child and handle everything involved with that.
I understand the tendency to describe childbirth as a miracle. But just because a notion is common and understandable, that does not mean that it is Biblical. While we do not want to forget God’s place in childbirth, or ignore the fact that delivering a child is an amazing event, we also do not want to mischaracterize an event as a miracle.
The psalmist wrote, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Yet how does God form us, or bring us “forth from the womb” (Psalm 22:9)? Is He directly involved in the miraculous creation of each member of the human race? No. Instead, it is by His providential design that each one of us was formed in the womb and born.
Miracles show God’s immediate and direct power. But God’s providence, which continues to be displayed in His creation, shows “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). In the natural operation of the world we see God’s power, wisdom, care, and insight. God has instructed man, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Through childbirth, He has given the way for this to be done, perfectly showing His wisdom and power throughout all generations and to all peoples.