Josiah Grauman on “Why We Chose to Have Beautiful Babies” Pt 1
I met Josiah Grauman in seminary. He has a rare condition that basically means he could die at any moment. This is a tool God has used to shape him into one of the godliest men I know (The other most godly person I know also has the same syndrome!) I have been so blessed by Josh’s testimony and trust in God’s grace and sovereignty that I wanted to bless you with an article he wrote recently at theCripplegate.com.
I [Josiah Grauman] have a genetic mutation called Loeys-dietz syndrome, which in addition to physical and external complications, also weakens my arteries and causes them to rupture easily (depending upon the location of the artery, this is both life-threatening and faith-strengthening). My wife and I have three beautiful children named Abigail, Noah Jay and Silas, two of whom also have Loeys-Dietz. Frequently, we get ‘asked’ about why we chose to have children knowing that they would likely be born with a life expectancy of 26 (though with the surgical replacement of arteries, this number can be significantly improved).
Non-believers ‘ask’ us why we did not abort.
Believers ‘ask’ us why we wouldn’t have chosen to adopt instead.
Doctors ‘ask’ leading questions about our family history. When they realize we chose to have children knowing that my mutation would force half of them to live with physical pain, their faces make it obvious what terrible parents they think we must be.
First, a bit of background:
A. I do not believe it is sinful for a married couple to prevent conception. I am not wading into the controversy of the pill, but rather simply stating that if conception is legitimately prevented I do not think it to be sinful.
B. We love the idea of adoption, admire those who adopt, and have not ruled it out for our family.
C. My grandmother was what doctors call a ‘spontaneous mutation’. From there on, the mutation had a 50% ‘chance’ (Prov. 16:33) of passing on… which it did to my father and to me. I am therefore a third generation LDS patient.
D. My grandfather was a doctor, my father was a doctor, and my first job was as a certified hospital Chaplain at LAC-USC. Medicine runs deep in my veins in every sense of the word.
E. I was convinced prior to meeting my wife Crystal that I would never hinder my Gospel ministry by getting married and certainly not by having children.
The first time I seriously considered having children was at Stanford University. Crystal and I were dating, and the doctors shared with her the marvelous medical advancement: We didn’t need to have children with LDS. They joyfully presented us the ‘miraculous’ news that they were now able to only implant zygotes which did not have LDS. My Hospital Chaplaincy training helped me maintain composure, explain that I believed that would not please my Creator, and then excuse myself to weep, horrified at the thought of how many “me’s” they were throwing into the trash simply because they failed a genetic test.
The fact was incontrovertible: Doctors did not think my life was worth living. So, in all honestly, I must confess that I first starting thinking hard about filling the planet with more me-mutants just to prove that I and my children were just as fearfully and wonderfully made as any of God’s image bearers (Psa. 139:13-16).
Of course, more than that, these events sent my mind reeling with questions:
Is it ever sinful to have children? What does make a life worth living?
Does there come a point when it becomes sinful to have too many children if you can’t reasonably provide for them? What if you know your children will go through trials? If we say yes, does that mean that families living under intense poverty in Africa should never have children because their life-expectancy will be much lower than if they lived in the United States?
Did Shem wonder if it was even worth it to have children if they were only going to live a couple hundred years instead of a millennia? What would a married mutant like me have done before contraception was available… especially in light of the fact that Paul commands married couples not to deprive one another (1 Cor. 7:5)?
The more questions I asked myself, the more clear the answers to these questions became. So here are the four general principles that most guided our thinking… [the rest tomorrow!]