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Speaking of Humanity: More than Matter and Chemistry

 By Heather Smith - Posted at The Lutheran Witness:

As a new mother, I once had a friend and her daughter over for a playdate. After we set our babies down on a bright red and blue blanket I had spread on the floor, she commented, “I love this quilt. It’s so stimulating!” The comment arrested me. I suddenly felt as though my child were one of the microscopic crustaceans from my college physiology lab to be plied with caffeine so we could observe its heart rate.

It has become commonplace for parenting books to describe infants’ need for stimulation, but the language has always seemed inhuman to me. A brightly-colored quilt might be beautiful or cheerful or even engaging, but to speak of it primarily as stimulating implies — however unintentionally — that the child is nothing more than a human animal, a physical being reacting by instinct to its environment.

The words we use matter, and in many subtle ways the vocabulary of the world erodes the dignity and fullness of our created humanity. As Christians, we should choose words that edify our view of humanity. We need to speak in a way that confesses our nature as beings of both body and soul, created to live in relation with other humans and eternally with God.


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