So Long as It’s Healthy

  • March 16, 2015
  • #8576

Expectant parents often reply to a question about gender with the words, “It doesn’t matter, so long as our baby is healthy.” But when it comes to the value of a human life, we need to pay attention to our choice of words.

So Long as It’s Healthy

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with an interesting observation.

Every expectant parent hopes that their child will grow up to become a happy person.  We dream of children who will do well in school and eventually become lawyers, doctors, and responsible citizens in society:  children who will join Little League or play tennis.  We want children to eventually marry and have sons and daughters of their own.  And for many (and I would venture to say, for most people), the idea of a happy child also means a healthy child.  

But think about it:  it’s pretty common to ask an expectant mother or father if they want a boy or girl.  And the answer is usually, almost always, “You know, we don’t care if it’s a boy or girl, so long as our baby is healthy.”  Of course, any parent wants a healthy baby.  No loving parent wants their child to live a life of suffering; no one wants their child to have to bear a disability.  But think about it; stop a moment:  what are we really saying?  Its like, “I’ll take the child; I don’t care about the gender or his eye color or the shape of his nose, so long as he’s healthy, that’s all that matters to me.”

Listen to that line one more time: “That’s all that matters to me.” What are we actually saying? Well, the underlying tone reflects what society often tells us about disabilities -- that an abnormal condition, no matter how slight, is something to be feared and avoided at all costs. It’s something that creates undue hardship and, ultimately, makes the child feel like a burden. Now that’s not our intention, or even how we would express it, but words matter.  And the Bible is quick to remind us of it.  Proverbs 18 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Matthew chapter 12 takes it further and says, “On the day of judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they speak.” Yikes!

I realize that most people would push back; they’d argue with me saying, “Look, Joni, I only mean it as a figure of speech.” —  as though words do not actually matter. Well, listen to this: approximately 9 out of 10 unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted because a parent did not want a “unhealthy” child. So when we say “all that matters to me is that my baby will be healthy,” those words convey a real fear that takes God and his sovereignty out of the equation. We must remember that every child is a gift from God; every child bears his image. So rather than say, “All that matters to me is that my child is healthy”, perhaps it’s better to say, “Of course, we pray that our child will be healthy, but if God has other plans, we’ll accept that and love our baby all the same.”

Maybe you are a parent who has received the news that your child may have Down syndrome. Or perhaps a friend is heartbroken that their newborn has a disability. If that child is unhealthy, did God make a mistake? And did God not make a mistake, if that newborn has a clean bill of health?  Remember that our days — your child’s days — are in God’s hands and He formed, He knit together those chromosomes long before the baby was born.  To help reinforce that visit my radio page at to watch the short, inspiring video I’ve posted in honor of World Down Syndrome Day coming up this Saturday. Because I want us to remember that children — people — with Down syndrome – people with any disability — can live happy, meaningful lives. And in that video, those very children and adults will tell you so.


© Joni and Friends


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