Pat Robertson said some really vile things on Thursday afternoon about adopted children. Thankfully, the response was swift and thoughtful, like these from Russell Moore and Shannon Dingle (among many others).
At about the same time, an Oxford Professor of Ethics, Dr. Julian Savulescu, declared war on children. In his article in the Reader’s Digest, The Maverick: “It’s Our Duty to Have Designer Babies,” he clearly articulates his disdain for children who do not fit his particular view of the world:
Some people believe that babies are a gift, of God or nature, and that we shouldn’t mess with their genetic make-up. But most of us already implicitly reject this view. We’re routinely screening embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome, and there’s little public outcry.
He does not mention abortion, but he doesn’t need to do so; we know the result he expects from ‘screening.’ And don’t miss his subtle invitation to join the club of cool kids: ‘most of us already implicitly reject this view’ that babies are a gift. Why not make it explicit?
Wesley Smith of First Things has blogged a good response (I expect more will follow):
Eugenics originated as a “moral obligation,” moved from there to legal coercion, and ultimately crescendoed into the worst evils of human history. And now many of those same ideas have regained sufficient respectability the Reader’s Digest editors think them worthy of respectable presentation. This won’t end well.
Mr. Smith is right.
What is also alarming is Dr. Savulescu’s (an obviously well-educated and accomplished man) naiveté in believing that the difference between his form of eugenics and the Nazi version he repudiates is that his version will be ‘voluntary’ for parents, rather than what the Nazi’s did using the ‘coercive imposition of a state vision for a healthy population.’
Yet, his own example about the ‘little public outcry’ at our ‘routinely screening embryos and foetuses’ demonstrates that there are other coercive mechanisms in place beyond the state. Our culture, as well, coerces doctors, family members, mothers and fathers to see children as expendable burdens rather than the gifts they are.
Pastor John gave a wonderful meditation on Friday morning about the importance of not being vague. So here’s my attempt to be clear:
God makes people:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)
Some of those people will live with disabilities, because God made them that way:
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 ESV)
He made them that way because he is purposeful in everything he does:
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 ESV)
He knows we will be tempted to think of our members with disabilities as having less worth, so he tells us how to think correctly:
On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. . . (1 Corinthians 12:22 ESV)
And if that wasn’t clear enough, he warns us not to abuse them:
You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:14 ESV)
And if that wasn’t enough he reminds us that, for those who cling to Jesus as their hope and treasure, he makes everything work to our good:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
At the end of the day, Pat Robertson is no real threat to children. He might reinforce some stereotypes in some people, but for the most part people see clearly how ignorant, anti-gospel, and foolish he is.
Dr. Savulescu, on the other hand, has thought a great deal about his subject and writes with easy confidence that he is right and that intelligent people should embrace his position. He knows it will be controversial, but isn’t that where all good things begin? So, he is going to help us begin a conversation.
This has happened before. The intellectual seeds of the murder of millions of Jewish people and tens of thousands of disabled people did not come from Germany but from the United States and United Kingdom. The difference is today we have the Internet to help us illuminate and to prepare so that it does not happen again.
And some of the so-called weaker members are already helping us remember that the lives of real people are at stake! Thank you to Justin Taylor for posting this video: