A Child is a “Gift from God” and other such nonsense


Part two in a discussion of Initiated Measure 11–another attempt at a sweeping abortion ban in South Dakota.

When I’m driving along the highways and interstates of South Dakota, I often see signs proclaiming that “A Child is a Gift from God.” What strikes me as funny about these signs is that they’re often in farm fields–many times in fields of farmers who raise livestock.

There seems to be a disconnect here between the efforts of farmers to breed and raise livestock, often of the mammalian persuasion, to be sent off to be fattened and slaughtered, and the breeding of another species of the mammalian persuasion: homo sapiens.

While this may on the surface be a rather crude comparison, the fact is that our bearing of live young and their bearing of live young works in much the same way, and is no “gift” or “miracle.” It’s simply biology.

Despite the fact that I dropped out of the Advanced Human Biology Class I enrolled in as a sophomore in high school (more due to the teacher making it clear he didn’t want underclassmen in his group than a failure on my part to grasp the subject material), my basic high school biology class gave me a pretty clear picture about how the human reproductive system works.

If you live and work on a farm and raise cattle or sheep or pigs, you also get a pretty clear picture of how the process works. Country kids at the fair or the zoo, seeing two animals “going at it,” don’t make the mistake of believing they’re fighting.

All this is to say that a child is no miracle or gift–a child is (simply put) what you get when two fertile people of the opposite gender have sexual intercourse. That does not mean you love your children any less–our basic biology gives us all the mechanisms we need to love and fiercely defend our progeny, and that’s incredibly beautiful and powerful in itself.

I’ve gotten lots of gifts in my life that I wasn’t particularly fond of–there’s the proverbial ugly necktie for Father’s Day or the embarrassing sweater from Aunt Flo. But my child is not of gift from anyone or anything–my child is the result of my having sexual intercourse with his father and carrying the healthy and intended pregnancy to term.

While a child may seem like a gift or miracle or act of grace by some unseen power for some couples who have tried and failed to get pregnant for months and years, and they may feel blessed to finally have been able to procreate together (and I wouldn’t deny them that feeling of happiness), the fact remains that a child or any kind–whether a calf or a beaver or a piglet or a human–is no “gift”–it is created by our very human, very mammalian bodies in order to pass along our genetic inheritance.

Additionally, if Christians (or anyone else) don’t want their teenage and/or unmarried daughters and sons to be having sex and making lots of babies, why try to sell them the idea that a child is a gift from God? I would assume the target audience for the message is not simply church-sanctioned pregnant, married, heterosexual couples.

To me, the “Gift from God” message indicates that having more sex and having more babies means getting more “gifts” and more blessings, whether they are in a good financial/emotional/relationship position to do so or not. Is that the intended message?

And, finally, will God provide for these extra “gifts”?

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sarah Skeen on August 21, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I totally agree with everything you have to say here! I especially love this particular paragraph

    “Additionally, if Christians (or anyone else) don’t want their teenage and/or unmarried daughters and sons to be having sex and making lots of babies, why try to sell them the idea that a child is a gift from God? I would assume the target audience for the message is not simply church-sanctioned pregnant, married, heterosexual couples.”

    I’m going to pass your blog on to a few of my friends…..I know they will appreciate what you have to say as much as I do.

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