Saturday, February 18, 2017

A photo of reality. . .

Stock photos are like actors who portray a role for a commercial but then it is all diluted when a tag line admits that the people who provide the visual image do not suffer from the malady for which this medicine works or use whatever product is being hawked.  Somehow or other, when the tag line says that the folks whose faces you see are not actors but real life clients, there is a credibility which is missing in other circumstances.

I will admit that stock photos are unavoidable.  I use some of them on this blog (although I really do try to make the image fit what I am writing about).  That said, things become real when the faces are the familiar ones of those whom you know and love, when the situation is what you are facing right now, and when the generic becomes personal.

That happened for me in a very new way when I saw photos of the grandchild in my daughter-in-law's womb.  The whole issue of life and its protection became personal in a new way when I saw the unmistakable form of a child, currently biding the days awaiting the magic moment when the careful environment of the womb will be exchanged for the more uncertain surroundings of the world around us all.  It is one thing to think about the pro-life cause in a general way and quite another when presented when an image of the very real child moving and growing within the womb of mom.

Don't get me wrong.  This is no position change.  I was and remain adamantly pro-life.  I am against abortion and against the callous disregard for the person waiting to be born.  That said, it has been made ever more personal when that child whose image I see is my own grandchild, one who will wear my name and who shares my own genes.

Abortion is generally argued on the level of theory -- right and wrong that has no personal face.  All the images we use are good enough but to the people to whom they are directed, they are like stock photos who could be anyone.  When you look at what our modern day technology can show of fingers and toes, eyes and ears, arms and legs, and a beating heart, well, this is no stock photo that could be anyone, this is someone.

The pro-life cause is more easily argued when the womb belongs to someone we know and love, when the child within is someone we will know and love, and when the whole framework of the argument becomes personal.  As I look out on our congregation, I see many babies -- some of them determined to be heard amid the sound of organ, choir, chanting, and preaching.  I see some moms still awaiting the birth of their children.  I have held many of them in my arms over the water of baptism and will hold more soon enough.  The pro-life cause is best a personal one, in which we are invested in the lives and futures of those children waiting to be born.  But even when they are just names and faces to us, the cause is personal to the Lord who knit them together in their mother's womb, fearfully and wonderfully fashioning them and giving them life.

It is a good thing to move beyond the theoretical and into the tangible and personal.  For the issue of abortion, it is essential.  It has often been said that we have lost as many lives to abortion as there are people in countries like Italy, South Africa, or Tanzania.  I cannot wrap my head around the reality of that many people being gone in the blink of an eye.  But I tell you what I can imagine and what I cannot forget and that is the picture of the child who will become the newest member of my family!

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