All the genetically flawed children
by: John Tyrrell
Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please sign in to the discussion forum below, or alternatively, use the contact page to provide your comments for publication.
Kevin Doran, the Bishop of Elphin in Ireland made news around the world when he essentially suggested that being born gay was essentially the same as being born with Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida.
He was asked during an interview whether if being born gay was as God intended. His reply was:
“That would be to suggest that if some people are born with Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida, that that was what God intended either. The thing about it is, I can’t see it in the mind of God.”
Of course the LGBT community and their supporters in Ireland and around the world were rightly outraged about the comparison - but that's not where I want to go with this discussion.
Where I want to go is God's plan. As far as the Bishop of Elphin is concerned, babies are being born with genetic conditions that God did not intend.
The Catholic Church's position on contraception is that we must not interfere with God's plan. Every sperm is sacred and must be allowed every opportunity to fertilize an ovum under God's personal supervision.
Somehow, along the way, 2/3 of such fertilizations in accordance with God's plan either fail to implant in the womb or spontaneously miscarry. Genetic imperfections are a large part of the reason - genetic imperfections in spite of God's plan.
And yet, among the 1/3 of fertilizations that make it to term - there are still major genetic abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida. And the Bishop of Elphin feels that these births - along with births of babies with a relatively benign genetic difference - are contrary to God's plan.
Clearly the man is starting to make the case for abortion in certain circumstances, isn't he? If a foetus is not developing in accordance with God's intentions, shouldn't action be taken to prevent such an abomination?
No - Kevin Doran is a Catholic bishop. In the same interview he vociferously restated his opposition to abortion. The baby apparently may be contrary to God's plan, but it should still be born.
The question that was not asked during the interview was "Who is undermining God's intentions about perfect babies? Who is capable of interfering with God's perfect plan?"
Or does the Bishop, emulating Adam in the Garden of Eden, lay all the blame on the woman. After all it is the proper medieval outlook to blame the mother for birth defects (and for giving birth to baby girls instead of the desired baby boys.)
I really think the interviewer failed in not following up and determining exactly what - or who - the Bishop though was getting in the way of God's perfect plan. It might have really exposed his thought processes - or the lack of them.
With the advent of genetic testing, it is possible to get your genome tested, and I understand that part of the report tells you what ailments your genes make you more susceptible to than average.
To my knowledge, no-one has yet tested as having no increased susceptibilities. (And I would expect that had anyone been tested with a perfect - or near-perfect - genome by now, it would have made the news.)
The point is, we are all genetically "flawed" - most of us in fortunately relatively minor ways. It is inherent in sexual reproduction. It is inherent in evolution, as there is the rare beneficial "flaw." Those flaws are put in place right there at initial fertilization - which the Catholic Church figures God is supervising directly. And in the end, none of us are born "as God intended."
The Bishop's thinking on our genetic differences suggests a God who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.
He'd do better to rule his God entirely out of human reproduction. The science explains what is going on so much better.
Have your say...
Please take a moment to share your thoughts, pro and con, on this Meditation.comments powered by Disqus