Are the Ezzos Culturally Insensitive?

Christianity Today Reprint

Are Ezzos Culturally Insensitive?

by Thomas S. Giles

See also the companion article ``The Brave New Baby''.
Reprinted with permission from the August 19, 1993 issue of Christianity Today.

According to the Ezzos, there are five ``historical feeding philosophies.''

One of these, ``primitive feeding,'' is the breast-feeding practice of ``primitive societies and in the lower economic classes of the Third-World nations.'' Their explanation for why this approach is inappropriate for North Americans has been faulted as being culturally insensitive.

They write, ``We have all seen the National Geographic scenarios of bush women slinging their babies as they move throughout their daily activity. Mothers in such societies are not worried about meeting the mortgage payment or whether Johnny will make the school bus. There is only one consideration: daily survival.''

The Ezzos say, ``Primitive societies are the end of the human spectrum because of depravity, not the beginning. You cannot bring Third-World maternal disorder into a complex American society. There is no justification for Christians to look at godless societies to discover how to biblically parent.''

Diane Komp, professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, disagrees, saying, ``There are troubling ethnic implications to this statement that smacks of xenophobia. [They] need to be careful about the overuse of the term Third World and primitive for practices that are common in the Afro-American and Hispanic communities.''

Jeannette Newman Velez, a registered diatician who has worked with many low-income families, says, ``I find it very disconcerting and irresponsible that the Ezzos overlook the fact that a large number of women may geographically be in the United States, but live in Third World conditions.''

Gary Ezzo told CT, ``There's no light in these [primitive] societies. So why are you looking to a godless society to find out how to biblically parent?''

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