The Vanishing Down Syndrome Children
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Have you ever wondered why you see so few children with Down syndrome today? In the United States, approaching 9 out of 10 babies are aborted if, during prenatal testing, they are diagnosed with it.* It is the single reason why, compared to past generations, we see so few people with Down syndrome. One wonders (and I have no statistics on this) if it is much different within the Christian community.
We are much the poorer for it. We are poorer for any child aborted. But we are poorer in a particular way when a child with Down syndrome is aborted, for such children bring with them particular blessings, and reveal the grace of God in a particular way.
We should not be surprised. Paul is clear that the Lord chooses what the world despises and considers foolish to shame the wise, the implication being that God uses “the foolish” to reveal Himself, and to bring blessing in a way that “the wise” cannot do. I came across this very point yesterday in a piece by Christine Allen (“A Child to Lead Us” in Anne Conlon, ed., The Reach of Roe: New York: The Human Life Foundation, 2013, 137-141), written 14 months after giving birth to her daughter, Chrissie:
An unexpected gift, a gift out of season and for no reason, carries a special weight. When Chrissie was born, she was that unexpected gift. In the weeks that followed her arrival, we were bombarded with messages from friends and acquaintances about the majesty of a Down Syndrome child; the words of our friends affirmed what was in our hearts. Chrissie is a blessing in a way a normal child is not. It is in describing her that the word “special” rises from banality and comes grippingly alive. That she may now be a member of the last generation of her kind, a group silently and methodically targeted for extinction, alarms my heart. Especially now, knowing as I do that when she is older, Chrissie will be able to read—and understand—what I have written.
Why does the Lord use that which we despise and deem foolish to shame the wise? So that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:29). In other words, God uses the most unlikely of his children to humble us before Him that we would not boast. God forbid that we despise such great gifts, for only the poor in spirit will receive the Kingdom.
* A helpful exploration of this statistic can be found at http://humanlifereview.com/testing-down-syndrome-to-death/
This article originally appeared in October, 2016