Editor’s Note: As Advent begins, and we ponder the mystery of the Incarnation, this week’s book review is an especially timely one to ponder.
By Matt Ristuccia
The unforgettable story told in Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah C. Williams (Ploughing Publishing House, 2018) is based on a premise that could change the world if wholeheartedly believed; specifically, that the intrinsic worth of every human being is prior to and irrespective of anything else about them.
That premise is basic Biblical truth. All human beings, from the moment of conception onward, are made in the image of God and therefore infinitely precious. Our worth is independent of anything else about us. Imagine—if you can—a world in which everyone believed and lived that. Evils such as intolerance, murder, racism, bullying, elitism, human trafficking, and abortion would rapidly melt away, like ice under an August sun.
Perfectly Human is the true story of a family in Oxford, England, that was called to live out that very premise at great cost. Sarah Williams, her husband, and their two daughters were thrilled with the news that another Williams was on the way. But during her routine 20-week ultrasound, Sarah’s joy turned to horror:
The technician put her hand on my arm and said the words that every expectant mother hopes she will never hear: “I am so sorry. There is something wrong with the baby. We need to fetch the consultant.”
“But there can’t be,” I responded immediately. “I saw the face. The baby looks fine to me.”
In several minutes, the diagnosis was delivered, with kindness but terrifying clarity:
This baby has thanatophoric dysplasia, a lethal skeletal deformity that would certainly result in death shortly after birth.
Some children survive, but, as the story plays out, the doctor, technician, and consultant were correct: Cerian Williams did indeed die immediately after her birth.
But the death of Cerian is not the main subject of this short book. Instead, this book is about the noble and godly choices Sarah and her family made to carry little Cerian to term. After all, she was already a “perfectly human” being inside her mother’s womb. And because of her family’s faith, Perfectly Human is an uplifting and inspiring book. It affirms the value of the unborn, the handicapped, the dying, and all those who do not fit the standards of a vicious culture that insists on strength, not weakness, as its ticket for admission. Through all the twists and turns of its narrative, the book builds courage to believe and live afresh the Christian conviction that every human being is made in the image of God.
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