Friday, December 22, 2006

What We Don't Understand About Parenthood

I read comments to the Washington Post article concerning Katrina Clark's feelings about being a product of sperm donation. The feeling I had reading these comments was that only a handful of people understood what she was saying, and understood the implications of our "brave new world."

For many people they were only concerned with the apparent selfishness of the author. Their claim was that she shouldn't have brought up the issue, because she should be happy that she exists at all. Some went as far as to compare her circumstances with people who are suffering with abusive parents or no parents at all.

But that perspective is not only short-sighted, but it doesn't even address what the author is bringing up. The issue is not about expressing a complaint about less-than-perfect circumstances. It is about acknowledging that mankind didn't consider the "products" of human engineering to be human—with rights and feelings of their own. Were black people "whining" because they said that slavery was unjust? ("Hey, there are some people who have their freedom, but have no food. You should be happy with what you got.")

This girl, Katrina, is saying that just maybe, the practice of insemination is unjust, because it violates the fundamental, God-given, rights of the pre-born. But, in our society we debate whether the pre-born have any rights at all. We see them as being commodities. We weigh their dignity against those who have the power to choose, as if human dignity was determined upon ability, not on inherent worth.

The other set of commentators make the argument that it doesn't matter what form the family can take, as long as the situation is loving or the individuals, who come from alternative family structure, come out of them successful and healthy.

The problem with that premise is that our evaluation of successful, healthy, or loving is flawed. We base the ideas upon a set of unexamined presuppositions. We believe that whatever feels good, makes us happy, or gains us wealth is good. What if everything that we think is good is not good. What if something that makes us happy, will destroy us? What if we gain the whole world and loose our soul? We want to say that we determine what is good. But that philosophy just leads us to justify genocide, eugenics, greed, and hubris. And when we examine what we justify, we will call it bad when we are on the receiving end of the negative consequences.

If God created us, He determines our worth, our purpose, and our destiny. But this matter has been settled when Jesus came to the earth. That is what we celebrate at Christmas. God settled the matter of our worth, purpose, and destiny with the appearing of our Savior. And Jesus rising from the dead settled the matter of whether it was true. So in our discussions of family structures, the value of life, or our purpose for being here it all begins with what God wants, not with what we want. Success or failure is not determined by what we consider success, but whether or not we've fulfilled our purpose in life the way God has determined it.

The last sort of commentators looks toward or in disdain at certain political stances. But what most people don't understand is that political stances are worldviews practiced in public life. Some political views call for changes in laws or new laws, some are just perspectives on moral conduct in public life.

The main problem with our view of politics is that political views are adopted at a societal level through public opinion. And one opinion is no better than another, except when it calls us to some standard of belief. This view of politics leads many, Christians included, to separate worldviews from politics. And, in turn, this relegates politics to simply a process of power maneuvering.

We have loss the art of public debate, and the concern for public righteousness. We are more concerned with the preservation of "freedoms," thinking that by them we are saved. But we are depraved. We think we know what we want. But we know nothing outside of God's plan. We need to become more like children, so that we can be saved and realize our purpose.

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