Two weeks ago I preached a message trying to explain how all people are valuable since they are made in the image of God. It sounds simple to write it, but that thought hit me like a thunderbolt the first time it came.
We had been to our first outing with families living with disabled children. Our own child with special needs was about two years old and this whole thing was very new to us. It was an emotional day; something like watching your whole life unfold before you in one sunny afternoon in a park. The participants ranged from infants to adults, like a living timeline of what was ahead for us.
As the day progressed I started to notice a developing theme. Well-meaning, dear parents would describe their son or daughter and almost invariably end up justifying their child’s existence by the contribution they made to society. “Well, she will never be a surgeon, but she brightens every room she enters. We need more girls like that in the world!”
I don’t reject the sentiment, but I abhor the logic. It betrays the utilitarian philosophy of our culture that demands only those things that bring progress or contribution are worth saving or keeping.
I think I might have experienced righteous anger that afternoon. Not at the parents who were faithfully caring for children who took a lot out of them. But at a worldview that is behind every abortion of a Down Syndrome child.
It hit me on the drive home. Only Christianity has an explanation and game plan for all of this. The Bible teaches us that every one of us is made in God’s image and that our value is entirely wrapped up in that. Every soul is valuable because every soul (even ones damaged by “genetic mistakes”) is reflecting the likeness of God.
I do not need to justify the existence of my special needs child by whatever supposed contribution he makes to the world. Neither do you need to justify your own existence by the same criteria.
Image determines value.
Providentially, I ended up in a phone meeting with my dear brother, John Knight, the very week I was to preach on this topic. Our conversation was a godsend to me. You can read his post here and you will findideas that crept into my message.
I encourage you to listen to the sermon. Especially if you think the world would be a better place without the disabled. Or even worse, if you think the disabled would be happier if spared from the world.