Last week the announcement of the birth of my third born appeared in the Hudson Valley News, with a picture of all three of my children, James, Caroline, and now Nathaniel. In the announcement, we noted how thankful we were for the arrival of Nathaniel. We considered him a heritage from the Lord (Proverbs 127:3). And we believe that. We believe that children are a blessing and a joy, even when they don’t feel like it sometimes. One of the things my wife and I regret having married later (for full disclosure, I’m 34), is that we most likely will have fewer children than we would have liked. That’s just the nature of biology. But, because we consider children to be a great blessing, we wanted to have as many as the good Lord would give us. When people note how great our “spacing” of our children are (4, 2, and now 1 month), we note that we didn’t space them at all, and don’t plan to. We will take however as many as we are given because, we do not consider them a burden but a blessing.
Now, we know we’re a little unusual. Our three children were born at home with midwives after all (you know you’re different when at the Social Security Administration they cannot fathom why you just didn’t apply for a Social Security card at the hospital… *sigh*). We know that most people in our western culture don’t see children as a blessing but as a burden. How often have I heard “we’re not going to have kids until we can afford them,” as if there is a magical day when you have sufficient money for all the unpredictable things about children. How often have I heard, “it wouldn’t be fair to bring children up in this world,” as if the history of our civilization was perfect until now, and how we can begin to predict what it will be like in the future. There is no good time for children from a selfish perspective but from a position that sees children as a blessing, then anytime and, every time is a good time for children.
Yet, some only see children as a blessing if they are genetically perfect. If there is a problem in the chromosome’s somewhere, then you’re not fit for life and are a curse rather than a blessing. Atheist apologist Richard Dawkins, recently responded to a Twitter post from a woman who was ruminating on the “ethical dilemma” of having a child with Down’s Syndrome. Dawkins wrote, “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” While he argued he wasn’t channeling the eugenics thinking of Hitler and simply noting that it would be against the “welfare of the child” to allow them entrance into this world, it is worth noting that Dawkins clearly feels that only some children are blessings. And that is the viewpoint of much of the west. Statistically 90% of babies who are discovered in utero to be Down Syndrome are being aborted. Now, I am very thankful that my three children seem healthy. I cannot know what the future may hold, but I would never not bring a child into the world because they had any physical issue as if I am the judge of what quality of life might be for them. If the Lord gave me a Down’s Syndrome baby, it might mean different parenting tactics, but it wouldn’t mean I would love them any less or think them still a blessing.
This brings us back to a worldview discussion. Our culture has made an arbitrary distinction between fact and value. It’s a fact that this human inside the womb is alive, but it’s only a person at a later date, and may never be a person based on its limitations. Yet, for those who see all children as a blessing, there is not distinction between the fact of life in the womb, and the value of intrinsic personhood. They are a person no matter what limitations they might experience. And therefore, they are worthy of our care and support and even our joy.
Truly children are a blessing. There are trials and tribulations with raising them. Little sleep, little money, little free time. But the dividends are priceless. I thank God that Nathaniel was born healthy. But, even if he was not, I would still thank the Lord for giving him to me, and allowing me to treasure him and enjoy him. Perhaps if we learned to treasure and enjoy all of our children once again, we might find this world a little brighter.