“I’m not really sure if I’m having contractions,” my wife said, “Aren’t they supposed to hurt a little more?” My wife, close to her delivery date, was laying on a bed in an examination room of the hospital. She had been experiencing birth pangs for a little while and we decided to come in. This was our first baby and although we had attended the mandatory classes, it was all new to us.
“Sweetie, you’re not going to have this baby tonight,” the nurse said gently after examining her, “You’re only at about two centimeters. You’ve got about fourteen hours left.” However, they decided to monitor her and got her hooked up to all the equipment. We got comfortable and waited.
Not soon after, for some reason, the baby’s heartbeat dropped. A little concerned, they decided to hook her up to an internal monitor. To do so, they broke her water. A couple minutes later, my wife felt that first wave of “real” pain and grabbed me by the shirt collar and pulled me close to her. With fire in her eyes, and the voice of a drill sergeant, she said, “Get me the epidermal, now!” I stared at her in disbelief and horror, but I was not going to argue. The nurse came in to check on things and told my wife that they would call for the anesthesiologist when she was at about four centimeters. It was going to be a long night.
It just so happened that our doctor was at a seminar at the hospital that night. “I thought I would stop by and say hello,” he said with a smile. “I’ll see how you’re doing, head home and get some sleep, and come back.” He checked on my wife, sat down near us, and watched a portion of the old show, “Moonlighting” with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. “I love this show,” he said. “Are we paying for this?” I wondered. By now, about 9:15; she was at four centimeters.
At 9:38, my wife frantically tried to get off the bed saying, “I need to use the restroom.” The nurse interceded and said, “That’s a premature urge to push, but I’ll check you.” Upon inspection, there was a look of shock on the nurse’s face. My wife was now at ten centimeters.
The doctor and I quickly exited to wash our hands while medical professionals quickly rolled my wife into the delivery room. As we scrubbed up, I heard a sound of panic from the delivery room, “Doctor, your hands are clean enough! Get in here!”
We both ran into the delivery room. Nurses were attending my wife and the doctor just barely made it to the foot of the bed to deliver our baby into this world. My wife had gone from four to ten centimeters in twenty-three minutes and our daughter was born eight minutes later.
The doctor handed me a pair of scissors allowed me to cut the umbilical cord. I wondered if he was going to give me a discount for only delivering half a baby and then having me saw through this rubbery, hose-like tube.
When I was done, he then handed me this fragile, whimpering, slimy…thing! It was the grossest and most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed. Tears welled up in my eyes. This was nothing short of a miracle.
My wife and I have four children. We call them all, “our children.” To our delight, and sometimes, dismay, they have our DNA, our personality, and our mannerisms. As they say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
As humans, we mistakenly think that because we are the vehicle that brings children into this world, we are also the agent and, thus, have control over the process of life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The concept of life is not just biological. That’s the byproduct. Life is primarily theological. From a theological perspective, the question to “how” we were created is actually pretty simple. God created life. In the very beginning, “God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:26-27). As the Psalmist acknowledged, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13). Creation: it’s a God thing.
Mankind was created in the image of God, to rule over, and take care of the environment. Mankind is superior to all the created order and has more value than all the other creatures. It may be true that you care for your dog more than some people you know, but any human life, even people you don’t care for, have more value in God’s eyes than any other creature. Only humans were created in the image of God.
The scientific community has a lot to offer us. But when it comes to our existence, the humanistic/ontological and biblical/theological views of our existence are “kissin’ cousins.” They both begin with a leap of faith. You either believe in a Big Bang or a Big God. Either nothing created something or Someone created everything. Both are leaps of faith. Only one of those views comes with an instruction manual.
An old story is told about a group of scientists who decided to take God on in a creating contest. God went first and reached down into the dust of the earth, formed man in His hands, and breathed into him the breath of life.
The scientists were impressed, but confident. They got out their instruments and meters and said to God, “watch this.” They too reached down into the dirt… but God stopped them and said, “wait a second. I created that dirt. Go make your own dirt.”
Humans can only take raw materials that God has created to manipulate and form them into other shapes—much like a carpenter who takes a tree and makes it into a chair. He made the chair but did not grow the tree.
The question is generally asked, “when does life begin?” Thanks to science and the study of fetal development, at twenty days, the baby’s heart is in the advanced stages of formation. The eyes begin to form. The brain, spinal column, and nervous system are virtually complete. At twenty-four days, the baby’s heart begins to beat.
The answer to the question, “When does life began,” is simple. It is not a scientific question. It is a theological question. God says very simply, life begins at conception. As God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). From the womb to the tomb, life is sacred and should be protected.
Human life has value, meaning, purpose, and accountability. God said, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Gen 9:6).
Mankind cannot create life, nor should he take life—except in accordance with the will of God. God allows life to be taken in a judicial sense. This is the “eye for an eye” principle. This is not to be done in vengeance, but this necessity (really obligation) is given to governmental entities (Rom 13). Similarly, governments, in order to protect their citizens, may find it necessary to engage in warfare against hostile enemies. In short, life is a gift and a trust. The Author of life is God Himself.
At the birth of our first child, we were convinced that we were having a boy. Back in the day, before advanced technology, everybody said it would be a boy. We were so convinced that we had a boy’s name picked out and some ideas of what a girl’s name might be.
In that birthing room, when the doctor said, “You have a beautiful baby girl” I said, “Yea, everybody told us it was going to be…” I was speechless. We were shocked and surprised and a little overwhelmed at the time.
However, God, the Author of life, was not shocked. From heaven, I believe God smiled and said, “Surprise!” God preordained this moment from the foundation of the world. He may also have said, “Here’s a beautiful gift Wayne. Take good care of her and make sure you tell her who gave her life—both in this world and in the next.”
Dr. Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.