The Calling of the Midwife

A few delightful thoughts about the vocation/calling of midwives.

One of the few instances [in the Bible] of what we now see as professions is the story about the two Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1.

In this story, these midwives undoubtedly have a solid grasp of what their practice requires of them, pertaining to their personal characteristics, their methods, and the desired outcomes. However, they find themselves in a pluralistic context. They are confronted with an authority, the Pharaoh, who tells them – for political reasons – how to do their work: he tells them to pay close attention to the babies' gender. (As this is surely one of the very first things any good midwife does, this must be a case of humour from the writers of the Bible at the expense of the Pharaoh!)

Realising, however, that Pharaoh's expectations would amount to the worst kind of care – i.e. killing the babies – they use a professional argument (Hebrew mothers are stronger than others) and find a way to keep their practice in lijne with God's expectations of them – i.e. to save the babies.

This insightful passage comes from Bart Cusveller's excellent paper, 'Bridging the Gap between Christian Commitment and Professional Nursing Practice in a Pluralistic Society'. This paper can be found in Bridging the Gap: Connecting Christian Faith and Professional Practice in a Pluralistic Society, proceedings of a IAPCHE 2009 Regional Conference.

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