“It’s not about God, or what the Bible says . . . because not all of us believe in God or are swayed by the Bible.”
I wrote that because I have noticed that so many important social issues are discussed within the framework of faith and religious belief, and I really believe that in so doing, huge sectors of potential audience are alienated.
We need to take this discussion about prenatal screening, about termination of pregnancies, about the sanctity of human life, out of the arena of Christianity. The fact of the matter is that not everyone is Christian, and basing arguments about such important issues in Christian beliefs shuts out and turns off anyone who doesn’t share those Christian beliefs.
You may believe that by invoking God and the bible into your arguments, you’re being a good Christian, you’re being true to your beliefs, you’re scoring points with the Big Guy and earning your place in Heaven – but I can tell you as someone from the other side of Christian belief that it’s just not the way to win friends and influence people. At least not the people you really want to influence: those who are on the other side of a very polarized debate. Sure, your like-minded Christian friends may appreciate your arguments, but they don’t need convincing, do they? That’s just the choir you’re preaching to.
Now, it just so happens that as the mother of a little boy who has Down syndrome, I’m appalled and even somewhat personally pained over the reasons people tend to abort if they find out they’re carrying a fetus with Down syndrome. It hurts, because collaterally, it’s a statement about how my son is viewed: as a mistake, as someone most other people wouldn’t want, as someone most people think shouldn’t have been born. I believe that the reasons behind the majority of the abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are misinformed and misguided, and I’m completely in favor of educating people about the realities of Down syndrome in an effort to decrease the termination rate and in an effort to allow Finn to grow up in a world that values him instead of pitying him or marginalizing him.
But it has nothing to do with God. And when people try to encourage acceptance of Down syndrome by saying things like “They’re God’s perfect angels,” or “God made them exactly how they’re supposed to be,” or “God doesn’t make mistakes,” or “They’re God’s gifts, sent here to teach us blah blah blah,” or “ABORTION IS MURDER! ABORTION IS A SIN! ABORTION LEAVES GOD BROKENHEARTED,” well, I just want to scream. Because those statements don’t resonate with me, and I’m sure they don’t resonate with a whole slew of other folks, either – many of whom are the very people who we’d like to see Down syndrome in a new light. Possibly people who are grappling with a brand new diagnosis of Down syndrome and wondering what the heck to do. Throwing God at them isn’t going to help.
Framing the discussion in human terms based in fact – that’s what helps.
We are a society of diversity – diverse ethnicities, diverse cultures, diverse socio-economic positions, diverse philosophies, and diverse beliefs. Not everybody is a Christian. I know it hurts to hear that, but it’s true. And the truth is, in order to unify discussions, God has to be taken out of the equation.