Future (Im)perfect

baby in the wombWe’re obsessed with perfection. The dazzling white smile. Perfect lush and shiny hair. Zero percent body fat. We need a new car every year and an upgraded house with all the extras. If something breaks, we don’t repair it we just throw it away and get the newest model. If our spouse starts looking old or gets a little impatient with us, we get a divorce and look around for that trophy we’ve always deserved. We don’t tolerate flaws. We demand the people and things in our lives to be without blemish; to be perfect.

Of course, this outlook sets us up to be disappointed because nothing and no one in this broken world is flawless. What looked great in the beginning reveals its cracks and smudges over time. We’re in a constant state of being dissatisfied with what we have and we’re always seeking out more and better stuff. We aren’t content with what we have even when what we have is much more than what 99% of the world may have. We live to consume. And when that is your world view everything becomes a commodity to be bought and sold. And everything has a price.

Last week in Great Britain the government announced it would begin drafting regulations which would allow the use of DNA from 3 people to create a baby. Scientists would take sperm and an egg and some additional DNA from a female donor and combine it to make an embryo. The process, they say, would be used to eliminate certain inherited diseases. They’ve been doing this with mice since 1983 and now want to try it on human babies. Of course there will be casualties each time the procedure is done because there are inevitably embryos that don’t turn out perfectly. And these children will be discarded. At present, this sort of research is prohibited in the United States. For now. But Chinese doctors are said to be actively researching the process. There are long-term implications for this sort of genetic tampering. Any baby allowed to be born would pass on their altered DNA to every one of their descendants for every generation to come. These man made inheritances may have huge impacts in decades to come, but that’s something the scientists don’t know and can’t predict. Still, they insist on doing it.

We can easily imagine the slippery slope down which this science will lead us. Even with the genetic modification of plants we’re currently seeing protests and legal battles all over the world. Does Monsanto regret their genetic experiments now? I’m sure their shareholders wish they’d never have started them. And these were only modifications in wheat and corn plants. How much more importance should we place on tampering with the creation and manipulation of our children?  This 3 parent DNA process reflects our consumer-driven, commodity-based world view where anything (or anyone) that isn’t perfect must be made perfect or discarded. And who decides what “perfect” is? What kinds of physical (or mental, or emotional) problems will no longer be allowed to be born?  This designer baby mentality has an old and ugly history.  It used to be called eugenics and its roots include the Nazi attempts to eliminate those they deemed imperfect like Jews and the mentally and physically impaired. Of course the proponents of 3 parent DNA research will deny that what they want to do us eugenics. Of course they will deny it.

We are becoming a world where people are values because of their biological characteristics and not their inherent dignity as human beings. When only perfect biology is worth saving, you are being guided by eugenics. Don’t be fooled when proponents try to make it sound more palatable. Of course no one wants a child to be born with a disease. We want doctors to ease their pain. But at what point does our science cross a line that can never be uncrossed?  Only through a relationship with our loving God can we know our true value as His child. All our flaws, imperfections, diseases and handicaps make us who we are and our worth is in His great love for us, made in His image. When we allow our pride to guide the physician’s hands we attempt to make ourselves into God. We lose our place, our role in His creation story. We forget that our perfection is found safely hidden within the wounds of Jesus Christ—and nowhere else. A broken world, a broken heart, a broken chain of DNA: all these find their only true healing in Him.

“The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.”
                     —C.S. Lewis

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