I was unprepared for the scene before me. To my right, a woman in her forties sat cross-legged on the floor, leaning into the TV screen as she enjoyed her daily cartoons and cereal. She gave my class a shy wave; we were touring the care facility that she had called home for many years. We heard a soft, pitiful cry of a newborn as the six foot tall man in the next room had his diaper changed.
As I examined the homey environment, our guide turned our attention to the figure seated in the back of the room. “Sean” was reclined in an easy chair, holding a walkman. He wore headphones and a dreamy smile. I remember his new, white, unscuffed sneakers and his brown unruly hair. But mostly I remember his eyes. They weren’t there. I scanned back and forth over his face, my mind reeling from this revelation. The hollows where they should have been were just… blank.
Sean’s caregiver explained the cause, I’m sure, but truthfully I don’t remember. Whatever the cause, he was born this way, and it was all he had ever known. His legs were twisted inwards and he had never walked. His hands were curled and distorted. He was “profoundly mentally retarded.” He could neither bathe nor feed himself. He was in his mid twenties but had the functional capacity of an infant.
Some advocates of abortion would say that a person like Sean could not possibly have any quality of life; that it is selfish to give birth to such a child. What does life have to offer you if you can’t walk, talk, see, or reason? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know a little bit of what Sean’s life was like.
Sean likes music. His “family” at the care home brings him new songs to listen to, but he also has his favorites. Sean likes going to the movies. He and his housemates go to the theater once or twice a month. He can’t see the images, but he can hear the music and dialogue, and he likes the smell of popcorn. He is shown love and affection in every way that he can receive it, and it showed on his tranquil, joyous face. There are many things that he can’t do, but still many things that he can.
Does Sean matter? Is he important? Does anyone care that he was born? The answer is yes. Absolutely yes. In Matthew 10:29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. See All..., God shows that all life is precious to Him. “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Although you and I lead lives much different than Sean’s, we all share the same future. When Christ returns, we will all be judged for the choices we are making now. What will Sean have to answer for? No one can know. But I know one thing for sure: We will all answer for how we treat people like Sean. For the way we use or abuse our power over the weak, the small, and yes, the unborn.
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