Thursday, September 20, 2012

Designer Babies, Designer God

from the archives




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?

38 comments:

  1. This was one of the very first posts of yours I ever read - it broke my heart, and made me pray for mercy for us all. Thank you.

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  2. I didn't de-lurk yesterday, but I will today. Your thoughts continue to focus my attention on what is true. Thank you for calling a spade a spade.

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  3. Unfortunately, I read a news article that they're doing that in America as well. Except they're aborting boys, not girls. Here's the article: http://mobile.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2012/09/sex_selection_in_babies_through_pgd_americans_are_paying_to_have_daughters_rather_than_sons_.html

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  4. This is beautiful and powerful. Thank you Missy.

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  5. Really Canada? I live in Canada. That shocks me and makes me feel ill. But I did just read that some cities won't tell you the gender at your ultrasound. You have to convince your doctor to tell you.

    I really struggle with not changing GOD. I feel like some churches do. I feel like they say, you won't get into heaven unless you....volunteer more and speaking of that we need people to____. And then I think, I'm sure God didn't specifically say that. Am I changing God? or are they?

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    1. Any church that tells you that it is your actions, good or bad, that determine if you go to heaven is a church to run away from. Jesus was pretty dang outspoken against the Pharisees who believed their 'good works' were their salvation.

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    2. I've always believed that to go to heaven--all you have to do is to want to go there!

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  6. I was wrong in my last comment. THIS is the first post I read.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Considering that the scenarios that you described above are very common among IVF situations, should that give us reason to questions whether Christians should agree to participate in this form of fertility treatment to begin with? The Catholic Church is very outspoken against IVF for this and other reasons.

      Thoughts from other readers?

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    2. I have a nephew through IVF, and I'm thankful for him, BUT I have to question whether we are playing God when we pursue treatments like that. I am so thankful to have given birth to my three children, and I know it's difficult for women who don't have that opportunity and want to. With that being said, there are two children, an ocean away, who I assure you have just as much of my love as my three here. I have cried for them, my heart longs for them. If we could accept adoption as a parenting opportunity, rather than fertility treatments, and not as a last-chance-nothing-else-worked option, the argument wouldn't be necessary. Oh, and we *chose* children who were blessed not be among the 90% aborted because of having Ds! We are so, so excited!

      Upcycledpurpose.blogspot.com

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  8. Missy, it's already happening here. I wrote a post on a woman that aborted her TWIN baby girls because she "already had girls and didn't want any more". You can find it here (http://satisfactionthroughchrist.blogspot.com/2012/09/lord-please-stop-abortion.html).

    I am heartbroken over this issue and pray fervently for action against it!!

    Christie
    http://satisfactionthroughchrist.blogspot.com

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  9. Well i can speak out of education, experience and out of love. My husband and i tried for five years to get pregnant and ended up, on a last ditch effort because of how costly IVF is, to try it, and if it didn't work than on to plan b: adoption. We were fortunate that the first round of IVF took and we are the proud parents of 4 year old twins. However, we bathed this decision in prayer like you wouldn't believe because of our beliefs and convictions. And although I mourn for your friend who suffered so and who i am quite sure, made a very emotional and heart breaking decision, but if she is a believer in the One True God of the bible than she would also know that her decision was purely selfish and was based upon, as this blogger so eloquently posted, "a god of her own design." Because either you believe in the whole truth or you believe only what is comfortable and easy for you to swallow therefore tearing out the selections of scripture that best fits your needs and lo and behold you have a a god of your own design. My husband and i knew form the beginning that not only would we not choose "selective abortion", or discard any embryos just because they were not "optimal" nor would we do any genetic testing because "there might be a problem". Because we knew that God himself said " Before I formed you in your mothers womb, I KNEW YOU." Jeremiah 1:5 God was not surprised when your friends quads were having issues neither did he say "oops, that was a mistake." Neither did he turn a blind eye to my friends conjoined twin girls who only lived for a few short minutes after birth, nor did he play a fool to the fact that my own son would be diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. So, believe all you want that this blog or I am judging you or your friend. But, love is not about butterflies and cupcakes, Love is three nails and a cross, and a God who loves us so much that he came to die for us and to show the error in our ways and to point to the one true way, himself. So in love, I do the same, if you are a true believer, then it is my duty as a sister in Christ to come along side you, to point you to the scriptures, to bear your burdens, and to say "let us reason together". Not reason in our own thoughts, but what is in God's word. So the TRUTH is either you serve a god that best suits you or you serve the God that knows all and is not surprised by what we may see as further suffering, but he sees as His glory through you. I KNOW first hand the sufferings of infertility, and yet I choose to rest my hope in the God of all comfort, who out of his own mouth says "I know the thoughts i think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

    To the author of this blog: Good for you for saying this. May God bless you abundantly for not backing down and standing up for his truth.

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    1. I replied this to anonymous, but i guess that was removed afterward.

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  10. I know that a lot of y'all don't have google accounts. And I'd love to hear from you.

    Problem is, when I enable anonymous comments, like I did yesterday, it gives people this sense of bravado to call me names and so forth that they would never do if they had to actually put their name next to their words.

    I want to say, outright, that I have zero respect for people who do this.

    If I have the ovaries to post something controversial that I believe to be true, and you disagree with me, that is awesome. I'm fine with people disagreeing with me.

    So disagree with me like a grownup. If you think I'm wrong, show me the stats that show otherwise. Or give a logical argument.

    To just leave whiny "You're so judgmental" comment is below my second grader's skills. Super. Duper. Lame. Labeling something judgmental often means you're just too lazy to organize an intelligent response, and you're absolving yourself of any responsibility to consider another point of view.

    Am I ticked off? A little. I wouldn't come into your house wearing a sack over my head and insult you then run out like a coward. Leaving anonymous ugly comments on my blog is the exact same thing.

    Abortion and adoption are very controversial topics but I'm not going to stop talking about them. But if you leave something negative, and don't respect your words enough to put your name next to it, i won't respect it either by way of my delete button.

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    1. If you have a strong argument, there is no reason to persoanlly attack ther person with whom you are arguing. If not, well then maybe you should reevaluate. Nicely stated.

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  11. I absolutely love EVERYTHING you said here. The "designer baby" phenomenon is heartbreaking. Beyond heartbreaking. I can't help but think about all the plans God had for their lives, all the things they could have accomplished.

    And the Designer God issue. You could NOT be more spot on. You said some harsh but absolutely true things and I applaud you for that. It seems like it's a rare Christian these days that will stand up for the Bible & the truth. Thank you for being one of those people!

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  12. The comment that I deleted said that a friend of hers had quads via IVF and two were threatening the other two so she chose to abort the two and was listing her rationale behind it. And then she said some ugly things about me so I deleted her. I knew a friend in the exact same circumstance (she did not abort, the dangerous babies died naturally) so I am very familiar with that and have thought it through in depth.

    The thing is, when it comes to things like IVF or ANYTHING but especially something as emotional as infertility, we must use the Bible as our compass. Would God be okay with IVF? That's debatable. Many Christians are debating it in depth. Anyone Christ follower who makes such a choice has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate and work through both sides of the issue before making a decision.

    Second, would God be okay with 'selective reduction'? I'm sorry, I can't find this in my bible, anywhere, that killing children in the womb is acceptable. Just can't find it.

    So you have to ask yourself, is Missy judgmental or is the Lord judgmental?

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  13. Beautiful post full of truth. Thank you.

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  14. I hate that this post is true. Part of me wants to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend this isn't happening in our world, but that wouldn't be very responsible of me. It's scary to think about where the natural progression is going to lead. Once life has been devalued and the truth of God disregarded, the depths humankind will fall to will just keep getting worse and worse. I read a fiction book about a decade ago about this very thing and knew it was not as far off as the author set it. God have mercy on us all.

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  15. I see it happening and not getting ANY better. It. Breaks. My. Heart.

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  16. Nail on the head, Missy. God bless.

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  17. I can't believe this happens, and around us. I am so naive! Thanks for such an amazing article! God uses you in amazing ways! Keep it up, Missy!

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  18. i remember the 1st time you posted it and i love it now as much as the first time.

    i have been pondering how to discuss abortion in a non-debating style with some of my more liberal, but sincere, believing friends who just don't see it. i had a recent frustration over an article link one posted on facebook to a "biblical scholar" who suggested that the Bible said life didn't start until breathing outside of the womb (using adam as his proof). pretty frustrating to try to have a conversation with that as a starting place.

    anyways, i always appreciate your perspective, you frankness, and yet your obvious care because of knowing your long wait for bethie.

    p.s. - i would love your advice on how you repost from blogger archives. did you copy and paste? is there a ways to just repost it without copy and pasting? i have an old post on my blog that i would love to repost but i didn't know how to exactly do that. thanks!

    my recent post: dear me at 15...

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    1. Hey Charis!

      I just cut and paste. You can go back into the post and change the date to today's date, but all your old comments will come up then, and it will mess up your timeline. I always do a mental debate over this.

      There is a book called Pro-Life answers or something - we have it at home - and one of the things that struck me is, no one ever says 'Have you felt the fetus kick?'

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  19. this is one i read to my husband. my mom too. and pinned to my 'fav articles and blog posts' board. really really good stuff.

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  20. Thanks for the post. It's a sad, sad world we live in without the grace of God. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to speak the truth!

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  21. My biological son has a genetic disorder. He is the JOY of our lives and I truly want the world to see how joyful family life can be for individuals who have disabilities. When we are out and about, I always hope that our family helps women be less afraid of a scary diagnosis. It makes me so sad that women get scary ultrasound reports and think they could "never handle that" or that they don't want their child to suffer, so they abort. So many women say, they don't care about the sex of their baby, just as long as the baby is healthy. Well, what about the unhealthy ones? God equips each mother to parent her child. He gives strength and hope and joy. Don't be afraid! Each child, a precious gift.

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  22. Bless you! You are a brave woman for saying that kind of truth that is a hard true truth and that will get you in trouble with so many.

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  23. After nine years of marriage, we chose to do IVF and become parents. Lots of prayer went into this decision. Years of prayer. We could have spent tens of thousands less and gone the fertility medicine route which would produce uncounted eggs, most likely resulting in high order mulitples. We weren't willing to chance that. Then we left the RE (fertility specialist) close to home and travelled hours away because he offered a refund program and would only implant "the best" embryos. We wanted all of our children, not just the best. Our new RE shared our beliefs in the sanctity of life. We had two embryos on the day of transfer. I got to watch via ultrasound, those precious children being implanted in my womb. Something you'll never forget! I got to keep one of them. Our son is ten years old now. I can assure you he is one of God's precious children and was most certainly meant to be here. Please don't assume that the entire world of reproductive medicine is evil. Lots of people need medical interventions for lots of illnesses. The cause of our infertility was never determined. (in fact, we have a 9 and 7 year old naturally!). But technology helped us.....just as LASIK surgery helps the blind to see.....just as insulin pumps help diabetics to live....just as chemo cures some cancers. Okay, enough said. That is all.

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  24. I'm Catholic. Here's something to note, if we are discussing IVF- the Catholic church disagrees with it in part because in practice, many embryos are fully ready and waiting to be implanted, but then some are stored i.e. frozen if not used for that round of implantation. So basically there are a lot of fully viable children sitting in freezers but who are not being 'grown', so to speak. If we believe life begins at conception, even if that conception happened in a petri dish, then that's a lot of life waiting for its chance in the fertility clinics of America.

    Now, you can actually 'adopt' these embryos- google 'snowflake adoption'. I know a Catholic couple who have done this- taken someone's unwanted embryos, and carried them in the mother's body- triplets!- and then raised them.

    Infertility is a very, very hard road. I am happy for all who have children because of fertility treatment. The Catholic Church does not want to hurt those of our precious sisters who cannot conceive naturally. But their doctrine is in place to protect lives who may be hurt when a good idea in theory can get out of control- i.e. these current problems of gender selection, selective reduction etc.

    I enjoy your writing and thoughts, Missy. It's hard to do the brave things.

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    1. My problem with IVF, aside from the thousands of snowflake babies, is that it is abortion in reverse. Either I am the author of life and death, or I am not. I believe that I am not.

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