Children with Down Syndrome: Will Culture Make Them Disappear?
For the Christian community, John's story about the healing of a man born blind is particularly meaningful:
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. "Rabbi," his disciples asked him, "Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?" "It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered. "This happened so the power of God could be seen in him." (John 9:14, NLT; emphasis mine.)
God's glory is manifested in weakness and imperfection, for he is truly the God of the sick and desperate among us. His power is made perfect in all of our disabilities (2 Cor. 12:9).
It should also be said that children born with imperfections don't surprise God. Scripture tells us he sees us in the womb, imparts wisdom to us in the womb, and knows every hair on our head. With that in mind, we can confidently say that mental, emotional, and physical disabilities don't define our worth. We are all equal in God's eyes, and all of infinite worth. A man or woman who belongs to Christ is his beloved child with a preciousness no man can extinguish.
"Right to life" includes all of human existence, from the preborn to the elderly and infirm, and to every stage and experience in between. I am not given to hostility, acrimony, or argumentativeness where it concerns the sanctity of life. I believe those who advocate for abortion are of infinite worth to God. Lately, however, I have to fight off greater feelings of paranoia as I watch where our society is heading. Are we increasingly embracing a culture of death? Is eugenics creeping in with a vengeance?
With advances in genetic testing and the foretelling of the end of Down syndrome, I have to wonder who's next. If a test can reveal future childhood diabetes or cancer, blindness, deafness, a propensity toward violence, and even ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) later in life, will couples choose abortion? What possible disability or disorder will be eradicated next? What will we as a society become as we strive to avoid suffering and hardship, and raise cultural expectations of normal? And if we see the preborn as just a mass of cells dividing and re-dividing, instead of as a real child with a soul, where will this path lead us?
Even as I fear the answers to these questions and fight for the right of these individuals to a life of dignity, I acknowledge a great God who has the power to change hearts and minds. And when an individual with Down syndrome crosses my path, I will never see it as anything less than a reminder of what is good and holy.
Kelly Rosati is vice president of community outreach and sanctity of human life for Focus on the Family.
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See a related piece on ministries for those with Down syndrome.
Previous articles on children include:
My Perfect Child | What God taught me through my daughter's disability. (November 30, 2011)
A Christian Response to Overpopulation| We can continue to affirm life while acknowledging that unrestricted population growth can put women and children at risk. (May 25, 2011)
Be Fruitful and Multiply?| Observers weigh in on whether Christians have a special responsibility to have children. (July 26, 2010)
Her.meneutics has also covered disability in several articles.