Preaching on the birth of Christ never fails to overwhelm me at the thought of Christ’s awesome display of humility. That the King of kings, the Alpha and Omega would take on flesh and confine Himself to becoming dependent on His mother’s care is simply amazing! And to stop for a moment to think of the privilege and responsibility Mary and Joseph were entrusted with in raising Him!
Children are such a wonderful gift and as parents we often learn as much, if not more, from them than we teach them. Even before they are born, we stand in awe of this precious life growing and developing in the womb. With this in mind, I wanted to share something Denny Burk recently posted…
As you have probably already heard, Kate Middleton is pregnant. Her offspring will be third in line for the English throne. The media have been abuzz with the news. In fact, I would say that they have been downright obsessive about it.
With all this coverage, I just have one question. Why is it that I have yet to hear or read anyone refer to her unborn child as the “royal fetus”? Oh, I’m sure someone has used the term “fetus,” but it seems to me that the preferred term is “royal baby” or “child,” even though the Duchess of Cambridge is in the very early stages of pregnancy (e.g., NY Times,Washington Post, ABC News, CNN).
Could it be that we reserve the terms “baby” and “child” for unborn babies that are wanted and prefer the term “fetus” for unborn babies that are not? This is not anunwanted pregnancy but a wanted pregnancy. And the feeling is shared not only by the royal parents but by almost every person in the English speaking world. Since this is to be a royal birth to one of the most glamorous couples on the planet, almost every person on said planet is in eager expectation of this baby.
What is the difference between this “royal baby” and the unborn child in the womb of a mother in the waiting room of an abortion clinic? There’s no intrinsic difference in terms of their humanity. The only difference is that one is wanted and the other is not. Thus, the one gets the status of “baby” and the other is euphemized as a fetus, blastocyst, or blob of cells.
Most people have not pondered the fact that their language about the unborn is shaped less by the personhood of the unborn than by whether or not the baby is wanted. Is there any other class of people whose personhood depends solely on whether or not they are wanted?
Our language often reveals fundamental truths about the way we view the world. In this case, the way we speak of the unborn reveals whether or not we view them as a part of the human community with an unalienable right to life. Obviously, the world has agreed to call Kate Middleton’s unborn child a “baby.” Why wouldn’t we do the same for every other unborn child? Could it be that such terminology would imply a moral monstrosity that we are unwilling to face?
“You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” – Psalm 71:5-6 (ESV)