Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Designer babies, designer God

It's been quite a day.

This morning I read this article about a pregnant woman who, upon discovering that one of her twins had Down Syndrome, scheduled an abortion. Only problem was that the doctor aborted the wrong twin. The healthy, wanted baby was killed instead of the undesirable, imperfect baby. Upon discovering the mistake, the mother rectified the situation by aborting the "right" baby. And then there were none.

Then later this afternoon I read how doctors are taking mitochondria from one egg, implanting it in the egg of a woman who carries a genetic defect, and creating an embryo. The baby, therefore, has three parents.

And a ob/gyn named Dr. Frankenstein.

Last summer I sat by a neighbor's pool when a newly pregnant friend of mine revealed that her doctor had offered her the opportunity to take a new blood test that can determine the gender of the baby during the first trimester. My friends gasped at the fun of finding out so early.

My worries exceeded my excitement. "Now, people will abort that much earlier when they don't get the sex they want." My friends called me ridiculous. "No one will do that, Missy. Tsk tsk."

I cocked my head at their ignorance. "Yeah, they will," I nodded, and whispered, "For sure they will." I let it drop. They didn't want to go there.

Many countries already do this regularly. China is facing a fifty million girl shortage due to gendercide that had become the norm. I am sure they will be delighted to abort mere weeks into a pregnancy than to wait until they have felt her kick, or to suffocate her once she is born.

It is believed that 90% of babies diagnosed in the womb with Down are aborted. Many women who choose to implant several embryos during in vitro fertilization routinely "selectively reduce" the babies down to a number that is desirable, a practice I have always found the epitome of irony. And I can guarantee you that children are being aborted in this country because they made the mistake of not developing into the girl or boy that their parents were striving for. We are not morally superior to the Chinese.

Nor are we any less hedonistic than our friends the British, who often abort babies for such simple, correctable abnormalities as club feet (which Olympic champion ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi was born with) and extra fingers and toes. One English father aborted his 20 week old child with a missing hand because he feared the child would not excel at sports.

As the field of genetics and prenatal testing continues, it won't be long before it is routine to abort babies for reasons of eye color or height. "Tsk tsk, Missy," you say. "No one will do that."

To which I will reply: untold millions of babies have been aborted for much lesser reasons.

Tsk, tsk.

Not so long ago, if you wanted a car, you went down to the lot, and you picked one out and drove it home. You didn't custom order everything down to the color of your steering wheel. If you wanted curtains, you drove to Sears, you decided which ones matched best, and you hung them up on your windows. At a restaurant, you had several items to choose from, not a ten page booklet. And they didn't make it your way. They made it their way.

But this is not the world we now live in. I am constantly overwhelmed by my choices. I've literally burst into tears in Lowe's paint department trying to choose between the sixty five different shades of light green before me. And as much as I love online shopping, it drags out a purchase considerably. Decisions to buy a camera or, heaven help me, one of those custom ordered cars, take hours of research and add stress to what should be a delightful purchase.

Because there are so many options, I feel obligated to design every aspect of my life down to the smallest detail.

Is it any wonder that we feel entitled to do this with our offspring? To create a perfect reflection of ourselves and reject the inferior version?

Is it any wonder we feel entitled to do this with our God?

Back in the curtains-from-Sears day, there was also little to no God shopping. The God of the bible was the God you got. You could take Him or leave Him, but you weren't encouraged to redesign Him.

Then God, like cars and cell phones, got marketed.
And marketing appeals to the consumer, not the product.

"Repent for the Kingdom is at hand"? Way too depressing. And, well, judgmental. Let's replace that with "Join the Excitement!"

"Prepare ye the way of the Lord"? We're too busy choosing a new cell phone for that. How about, "Become a Better You"? Now that, I could squeeze into my schedule.

"Rejoice in your sufferings?" Suffer? Why suffer when you could "Live Your Best Life Now"?

"Blessed are the poor"? Pshaw! Joel Osteen says, "God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money."

This Extreme God Makeover is nothing new. Paul spoke of it almost 2,000 years ago in his letter to the Romans: "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles....They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator..."

None of us probably worship lizards or cats.
But I know a lot of us worship a god of our own creation.

It is a god who wants nothing for us but perfect health. A god who is only interested in our finances to the extent that he increases them. A god who is tolerant of and even encouraging of sin, especially if we claim we can't help it or were born that way. A god who doesn't care if we worship him in a pew or at IHOP. A god who would never, ever send anyone to hell. Well, maybe Hitler. But not our friends, our nice friends.

A god who above all else wants us to be happy, no matter what we have to do or who we have to hurt to achieve satisfaction.

A god who never judges, never condemns, never disciplines. We find ourselves saying, "My god would never do that."

But this god that would never do anything we don't like is a refurbished computer. He was pieced together from different parts, some of them functional, some of them garbage. And the problem with this god is that he frequently crashes.

This designed god offers no explanation when our cancer is diagnosed. This god of wealth's impotence is revealed when our house is foreclosed upon. This god stingily withholds the abundant joy that is found only from turning away from the behaviors and attitudes that are slowly and certainly killing us. This god can make nothing new, especially our hearts.

And this god not only denies us access to eternal life, he can't even give us clear directions on how to get there. This god shrugs his shoulders and suggests that we just try and be as nice as we can be and hope for the best.

The true God, however, reveals himself to us, sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully, in one place alone: his Word, which He so graciously wrote to us. The true God offers only one pathway to Himself: his Son, which He so sacrificially gave to us.

The true God sometimes says and does things we don't like. Like the parents of these "designer babies" will very shortly learn, even the best "designed" children will have minds of their own. So does this God.

The true God who sometimes takes away things we love most. The true God who is completely intolerant of sin, not only the sin of a child molester, but the sin of a dishonoring wife or gossiping neighbor. The true God who assures us that indeed, we were all born that way, but that doesn't mean He's okay if we stay that way.

The true God who makes it abundantly clear that being nice is never, ever going to be good enough to go to heaven.

But -
He is the true God who shows us that peace has nothing to do with the storm that surrounds us, but everything to do in trusting in the One who is mightier than the storm. The true God takes the most horrific circumstances of our lives and makes them beautiful. The true God works all things - especially the painful, frightening and confusing things - for the good of those who love him.

The God who planned great works for us before we were ever born - in order that we glorify Him, not ourselves. Because in that, and that alone, we find happiness.

The God who believes a child with a deformity or a difference is not something worthless to be discarded, but a sign of his glory. The God who takes our greatest fear, death, and makes it our greatest blessing.

The God who wants to love us with the strongest, deepest, most unquenchable love, now and forevermore.

He is a God so much better than any that we could ever design for ourselves, who has such a better life for us than that other god could ever imagine.

Which God do you choose?

The one you designed, or the One who designed you?

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15

Addendum: I was unaware until a commenter pointed out that gender selection is not just an issue in China and other countries, but Canada is experiencing the same phenomenon. Canada - CANADA - is now reporting a shortage of baby girls due to gender selection abortion.
Guess which country's next, friends?


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