That verse in the title, found in John 9:41, came to mind as I read one of the comments attached to Amy Julia Becker’s blog posting on why she declined prenatal testing for her third pregnancy.
Happily, the vast majority of comments were positive, including several similar stories of good decisions women made to let their babies live. A couple of dads even weighed in.
A genetic counselor, however, wrote a comment on his or her sorrow at how prenatal testing was presented. What grabbed me was this statement:
No judgement (sic), no pushing- that’s how my appointments work. I mainly want patients to feel comfortable and informed, no matter what they choose.
No matter what they choose?
It sounds all very soothing and helpful and reasonable. How often is this comfortable ‘choose what is right for you’ given as the final answer.
That ‘choice’ statement would be nonsense even if people considered disability to be normal. But we know the direction of the culture is against our children with disabilities.
And no matter how prepared a parent is, this issue is never neutral. Disability frightens people. There is no safe space where ‘non-judgmental’ conversations exchanging objective information can happen.
What children (and their parents) really need are advocates, not professionals who will make parents feel comfortable about whatever decision the parents make. I’m good enough at self-justification to not even need that kind of ‘counsel’.
Hopefully you’ve read enough on this blog to know we live in the real world of hurt and loneliness and financial difficulty associated with disability. There are no romantic notions here about disability being easy. We live with an entirely different framework than the culture, however, knowing that God is sovereign over all things and has promised to help us.
And, frankly, this counselor is disingenuous. The desire to help people feel comfortable with any decision means that the counselor is comfortable with the idea of aborting a little human being on the basis of disability. I am not comfortable with that, and don’t ever want to be comfortable with that, and I don’t want anyone else thinking it is ok to be comfortable with that decision.
Embracing this notion of choice also validates the idea that we are god, entirely able to make whatever decision we want to concerning a human being who is entirely defenseless.
If we claim this kind of sovereignty over our own lives (and little babies’ lives) and attempt to justify ourselves before God, there is nothing standing between us and the righteous wrath of God.
But, we can have full confidence that every sin, including aborting or encouraging the abortion of a child with a disability, is completely covered by what Jesus did for us in obedience to the Father at the cross. When God calls and gives us faith, we are entirely clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. And that allows us to live a different kind of life entirely, under his good care.
After all, it is God alone who makes these bold statements about his sovereignty over disability:
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Exodus 4:11
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3
And we have clear instructions from God about how to think about those who are weaker:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:21-26
And God alone will have the final say:
For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31
So let us never put on a neutral tone regarding the choices people face with their unborn children with disabilities. Let us remind counselors that their duty is to actively counsel against bad decisions, not justify every decision. Parents need to know the truth about the good and the bad in raising a child with a disability, be offered ideas for dealing with issues, and receive support in their deepest moments of grief – so that the child is allowed to live.
We can do this boldly in the midst of another’s deepest pain and confusion because we have a promise no secular counselor can ever offer, and it is one we can bank everything on:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19