Social Issues? Consider Playing the “Humanity Card” Instead of the “God Card”
In the spring of 2010 my wife Tammy and I got some unexpected, yet welcome, news.
We were going to have a baby!
I shouldn’t say though it was totally unexpected. A year previously we had been visiting friends at Origins Church, where we had attended while living in Boulder Colorado. A woman in the church named Edna, who had a real heart for ministry and prayer, asked if she could pray for Tammy and I before we left to return to Asia.
Hey, I never turn down prayer 🙂
As she laid hands and prayed over us she suddenly stopped and asked if we wanted to have another child. Tammy and I were caught by surprise. We mumbled that we had always wanted to have a second child after Gabriel but that it just hadn’t happened. I explained further that we were getting older now and realized we may need to just be happy with the blessing of our one son.
“Well,” Edna responded, “As I was praying for you I felt the Lord say he wanted to give you another child.”
Ten months later Tammy was pregnant!
But a couple months after we were aware our little addition was on the way I got a call at my office from Tammy; her voice betrayed that she was emotionally distraught.
“Steve, the hospital called.” she said, “They want to see us both today…this afternoon. When I said you were working and if I could come in by myself they said they preferred if we were both there.”
My heart started doing double time. Something is wrong with our baby!
Tammy was holding back tears over the phone as she started pondering what it could be? Down Syndrome? A physical deformity? The unknowing fueled the fear.
Understanding speculation would only make it worse…we prayed. We prayed over the phone…we prayed when we met outside the hospital…and we prayed as we waited for what seemed like an eternity in the waiting room.
The funny thing is, like C.S. Lewis suggests, prayer changes us often more than the circumstances! Was I really praying or expecting if the child did have Down Syndrome that he would be healed in the womb? Although I believe in physical healing the prayer Tammy and I did together really resulted in bonding us together and giving us a view of the situation from a much better perspective.
We didn’t have to fear! We were going to have a child…a child God wanted us to have! When we were finally called into the office we walked with much more joy in our heart then when we had first arrived.
A nurse welcomed us and explained that because of Tammy’s age (she would be 39 when she had the baby) that there was an increased chance of Down Syndrome (a 1 in 20 chance) and they wanted to suggest we do an amniocentesis to determine whether the baby did have Down Syndrome or not.
Really? They couldn’t have explained this over the phone. We lived in fear all day when all they wanted to do was make some options available to us??? Apparently “people skills” are not in the Hong Kong public hospital’s skill set.
The nurse explained that the amniocentesis test involved inserting a needle into the womb to withdraw amniotic fluid and determine the health of the baby. She went on to say there was a statistical 1% chance it could result in the baby miscarrying but she really suggested we have the test done none the less.
“If there is a chance it could cause a miscarriage, what was our motivation for doing the procedure?” I asked.
“If the fetus was shown to have Down Syndrome you could then choose to terminate the pregnancy.” she responded and then added. “Most couples do.”
Most couples do?
The words were still ringing in my ears when Tammy and I informed the nurse we would not be needing the amniocentesis. Whether the baby turned out to have Down Syndrome or not, we would not be terminating the pregnancy so the procedure was unnecessary. The nurse encouraged us to reconsider reminding us that Hong Kong law only allowed for the abortion up to 22 weeks.
Again we declined.
As the nurse scribbled notes into our file she asked if we were making the decision for religious reasons?
“Yes” I responded almost on auto pilot. Then later it hit me…
No…it’s NOT for religious reasons. Sure I could play the “God Card” and say I wouldn’t terminate the pregnancy because God didn’t want me to …
…but was that the real reason?
Playing the “Humanity Card”
Often when we make these kind of religious pronouncements we serve only to disconnect our decision making from our humanity. In doing so we make our values seem foreign and unrelatable to many people around us.
If someone of a different religion expresses a conviction, particularly on a social issue, I may respect that conviction out of politeness, but it doesn’t influence my own positions in the slightest. Their choices and mine are separated by the uncommon religious ground they were both made upon.
But a choice made in something we both have in common; a conviction birthed in our shared humanity and suddenly we have stake in something we can relate to together. Tell me your conviction is as a father or as a husband and I understand you better now even if I don’t agree with you.
Tammy and I were not going to consider an abortion because of religious reasons. No…we weren’t going to consider an abortion because this was our child who we fell in love with from the moment we discovered he was coming.
Whether he had Down Syndrome or not, ‘This was our beloved son in whom we are well pleased!”
A parent undestands this even if they are not a Christian!
On December 23rd, two days before Christmas, our promised gift from God, Ethan George, was born.
And he was healthy!
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