Friday, January 20, 2012

An Incongruent Culture

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.  Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.  Therefore the LORD’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down.  The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets." (Isaiah 50:20-25, NIV)

It started again last week.  I found myself ruminating about the huge disconnect in our culture that I continue to witness in ever-increasing measure.  Outrage flashed throughout media and internet venues at a furious pace with news of a little girl with cognitive challenges being denied a lifesaving kidney transplant at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  While the hospital has denied the claim, vigorous conversation continued.

The full gambit of viewpoints could be feasted upon out there.  One blogger made the stark contrast between the struggles of the child being served by CHOP and her own beloved pet, while one of her readers defended how limited resources are used.  Terri Mauro, About.com writer, made a powerful case affirming the value of children with special needs.  And renowned bioethicist, Dr. Mark Mostert, sounded the warning once again for the impending doom of eugenics as he proclaimed the "The new scarlet letter is 'D' for disability, and those bearing it are judged as less worthy of treatment and life than the rest of us."

What strikes me most seriously is that we have become a conflicted, bipolar culture regarding the serious issue of the value of life.  And now this issue has hit the door of our disability community with a battering ram.  While our organization has had parents leave us in disgust because we are solidly pro-life, we have continued to comfort and strengthen those who are sickened and dismayed by true news accounts of things like the award of millions of dollars to parents who are suing because they weren't able to abort a child who was missing limbs at birth.   The parents we comfort know that it's not a long stretch between the prenatal and postnatal discrimination against those who are uniquely-abled.  One only needs to look to articles like a recent one from The National Post (Canada) to see that the culture is becoming more depraved in its valuing of some lives over others.

So, how do we square a society where the pro-choice worldview exists alongside the notion that anybody denying compassionate rights to the disabled is a knuckle-dragging barbarian?  Ironically, the two views are actually not at opposite ends of the spectrum because they both operate under the premise that special needs are "not fair".  One view thinks that this unfairness should be dealt with by avoiding it at all costs.  The other thinks that the unfairness should be addressed by overcompensating for it.  

As I am known to say to people, "This ain't heaven, baby!"  The only solution to such a conundrum comes in pressing obediently into the sovereignty of our Maker.  He made us.  He knows what is best for us.  He set the boundaries for our good, not our oppression.  And when we challenge His authority, taking it into our own hands, calling right wrong and wrong right, we create a dangerous life for each of us.  It never occurs to people that we are each merely one emergency room visit away from becoming a special needs family.  The slope is beyond slippery when we decide who is worthy of life and who is not.  While it may be far easier to dispose of another person than to sit down, get to know them and discover their personal giftedness, we may be sealing our own fate by taking that easier route.  God help us in making this fatal, incongruent mistake!  It is far beyond time the Church start preaching this truth boldly!

Pray:  God, You alone are the author and perfecter of all life.  Help us to be wise stewards, not only with our own lives, but also with every life you have allowed to arrive on this earth!

~ Barb Dittrich

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