Yesterday I read this post by Simcha Fisher on ncregister.com. It is such a beautiful reflection on the inherent holiness, the beauty, of personal relationships. Even in its messiness and potential for heartbreak, real human interaction is, in the end, sanctifying and Good. The kind of Good that Jesus was in this world. We knit ourselves to His ultimate sacrifice through the simple act of loving one another. Giving up our selves the sake of another.
I enjoyed it, I shared it on facebook. I went on with my evening.
And then today I read this article from babble.com. All about gender selection via sperm sorting followed by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. Controlling. Impersonal. Distant.
My original intent was to post a fun set of pictures about our weekend with our dear friends. Say some funny stuff. Tell a little story. But I couldn't manage to do it. The irony, the perfect storm of these two ideas careening into each other in my tiny corner of cyberspace, simply refused to be ignored.
The idea of couples spending time and emotional energy and money on these gender selection procedures makes my heart ache. I can see no Good coming from this. Perhaps some sort of satisfaction in our ability to further exert our seeming control over the natural world. But not Good. Not knit-our-lives-to-the-fabric-of-Christ's-mission Good. Not unite-with-our-spouse-as-one-flesh Good. Not Good and therefore ultimately empty and unsatisfying.
First of all, how many times in our lives have we thought we knew what would be best for us and were proven sorely wrong? How many times has there been "no choice" only for us to realize that was in fact the best choice? Who among us can say that we have always gotten everything we've always wanted and it has always made us exactly as happy as we expected? Unless the only thing someone has ever wanted was to rejoice in God's will, I would imagine that no one's hand is raised. Deciding we know which gender of child is best for our lives and our families is to say that we know exactly what is best for the entire world. Because that child will be a citizen of the world for far longer than he is a citizen of his parents' home.
Secondly, the cost of these procedures makes the whole notion seem even less palatable (if you can imagine a level of appeal lower than zero). $5,000 for the artificial insemination procedure and, because it offers a higher pregnancy success rate, even more for the in vitro fertilization procedure. How many starving children in third world countries could that money feed? How many shoes for underprivileged children in our own country could that buy? Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor.
And most disturbingly is this: the fate of the children conceived who are discovered to be the "wrong" gender. What happens to the couples who don't get what they paid for? A couple who decides they know exactly what gender they want is also letting the world know exactly what gender they don't want. The wrong gender would be...unwanted. Unwanted. An unwanted child. Because they wanted one. Paid for one. Hoped for one. And got the other. So what then? Do they continue with the pregnancy but remind themselves throughout the child's life of how different, better, things would be if only things had turned out right? Or worst of all, the option that burns behind my eyes to even speak about, do they abort the child of the non-preferred gender?
My friends, this is sexism in the new millennium. Deeming people unworthy, or less-than, or unwanted based of their gender once they're born is, by most reasonable people, considered unacceptable. But to decide that one gender is superior to another before they're born? That...that is still reasonable. And to then kill a person because he or she is the wrong gender is apparently also acceptable. Legal. Discriminating based on gender for hiring purposes is illegal, but discriminating based on gender for the very right to live is not.
"But Dwija! Wait!" you say. "What about genetic disorders? What if a specific gender wouldn't carry a disorder and the other would?" To that I remind you that these procedures are far, far from 100% successful. There is still a very high possibility that, despite the cost and the time, the couple will still end up pregnant with the non-preferred gender. And so I ask you again: what then?
If it is absolutely imperative that a couple not have a child of a specific gender for a life-threatening medical reason, I hope and pray and plead with them to consider adoption. Want the unwanted. Give a child who has yet to know the love of a family a place in yours. If a couple is willing to go through all this expense and take all this time, clearly they want to raise a family. They want to share their love with a child. Or children. They are the perfect candidates to offer a forever home to the child who is waiting for them.
My life has been...tumultuous. If half the things I wished for in the past had been granted, today would be very different. It would be terribly bleak. Truly sad. Let me assure you that there has been pain and struggle and a whole lot of discomfort, but I feel confident in the Lord and His plans. The overwhelming sense of purpose and joy that washes over me whenever I am capable of surrendering to His will is so marvelous that I want everyone else in the world to have a chance to feel it too.
Please, let's help each other fight the temptation to control every aspect of our lives. Let's encourage ourselves and others to do the will of the Lord rather than try to bend nature to our every whim. Let's value people for their personhood and not for their gender.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Together we can bring a little piece of heaven to this earth.