On Placing a Value on the Life or Quality of Life of a Child

Some thoughts on a week when once again the political tends to overshadow personhood, and divisiveness tends to be propagated over decency. If we as Christians cannot be unified in placing the life or quality of life of a child—whether unborn or born—above such tendencies, where do we go from here?

It’s hard to understand how anyone can put gradations of value on the life of a child, or an adult for that matter. But this should especially be true for the Christian who constantly declares himself or herself to be pro-life and pro-family.

If we believe the life of an unborn child is worth defending, we surely believe the same for those already born. This is true not only of life itself, but the quality of life. It cannot matter if their skin is more white or more brown. It cannot matter what their birth certificate reads or if they even have a birth certificate. These things have no bearing on their value to God or to the person of God. Consequently, the words and terms we are willing to use for any person—whether subtly or outright—really do matter. They reflect attitudes and affect actions.

Though nearly all aspects of the plight of immigrants and refugees have been politicized, the crises being faced are far bigger and more important than politics. Deep down most people know this.

If we are conflicted because of security or laws that is more than fair. But it has no bearing on the nonnegotiable value of a life. We don’t have to throw open our borders indiscriminately to find the best ways to open our hearts generously to those who are desperate. We don’t have to abandon our laws or governing documents to find better solutions. We don’t have to trade in our convictions or principles in some unnecessary “either, or” scenario. It is more than possible to care about multiple things and to speak to those things out of Christian conviction even if we have to confront partisan lines to do so.

The responsibility does not fall on just one party or the other, it falls on each of us who have a voice. Especially we Christians who have experienced Christ’s love without measure. This is not a time when we can afford to keep quibbling over the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Many of these precious people are Christians already, and nearly all of them have heard that Christians are compassionate people. Will they see in we who are Christians clear examples—in our words and actions—of who we believe Christ is? Will they see the love of Christ’s people on display in this the hour of their greatest need? Will we put their need for Christ’s good news above anything else? Or will Christ say to us, “Whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”?

The reality is the families and individuals who have fled their homeland and traveled for thousands of miles are not going to simply disappear. The dangers and scarcities they left behind are not going to magically improve without aid. Their current circumstances are not matters of mere legislation. Ignoring them changes nothing. Dehumanizing them will ultimately lead to dehumanizing anyone, including us. Blaming them for their own suffering is just another fruitless attempt to find a justification to not care as much about their needs as our own.

One day Jesus and his disciples came upon a man who was blind from birth. The disciples, demonstrating a common tendency many of us have, needed someone to blame for his circumstances. In many of their minds, the man’s condition had to be explained by placing all responsibility on either the man himself or his parents.

Jesus turned this false narrative on its head. He blamed neither the man nor his parents for his suffering. Instead, he told them to watch how God was about to use the man’s suffering to display great works of God. He engaged the man’s suffering and used it to draw others to himself. And—oh yeah—Jesus also met the man’s physical need by freeing him from his blindness.*

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*John 9:1-41.



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