Anatomy Lesson

My wife is a nurse with certifications, which she tells me is more than simply being a registered nurse. It's like when she tells me that my role as father to our son is about more than having helped conceive him. In either case, I just nod and pretend to understand.

The point is, my wife knows a lot about health care and the medical field. On a regular basis she uses vocabulary beyond the comprehension of most of us; mystifying words and phrases like "hypoxia", "ventricular septal rupture", "subdural", and "nostrils" (which, I learned, is a fancy word for what I've always called "face holes").

And when it comes to our five-year old son, she is matter-of-fact about using clinical terms with him in order to help him understand and describe his own anatomy. So, yes, he knows the word "penis".

A few weeks ago the three of us were in the car and I asked my son how it is that he knows he is a boy. With invincible logic he replied, "Because I'm a boy."

"Yes, well, there's another way you can know too," I said. "Boys have penises and girls don't."

I could see that this news struck him with amazement, because his eyes widened and his face holes flared. "Girls don't have penises?"

"No," I said.

He gazed at me with astonishment. "They just have butts?!"

And there was that small-fry logic again. His knowledge of anatomy only went so far, and so if a person has no penis, there's nothing there at all.

Some folks reason about God like that: If there's no scientific evidence for God, there's nothing there at all. They can't picture an alternative viewpoint. Or refuse to.

There's also the "God's justice in the light of human suffering" issue. You've heard the argument, or maybe made it yourself: "Famine happens, so there can't be a God." ... "Disease happens, so there can't be a God." ... "Adam Sandler movies keep happening, so there can't be a God." But being open to a bigger picture can change everything.

My five-year old isn't unwilling to believe there's an alternative to the penis. He's not stubbornly resisting. He simply is unaware that there's a bigger picture-- one that includes a genital counterpart.

And I'd like to keep it that way until he finishes college.

But that's not going to happen. He'll find out soon enough. He'll get the big picture. And eventually, about a decade from now, he'll likely spend about twenty-three hours a day thinking about that counterpart.

Our parenting will go to a whole new level of desperate prayer when those hormones of his kick in. Oh yes, my wife and I have to believe in the existence of a loving God who is with us in the midst of suffering and who ultimately redeems and overcomes it through His Son, because as much as we need God now, we're really going to need divine intervention if we're going to survive our kid's teen years. 

Or at least my wife will need the support. Me, I just helped conceive him.

Carlos Fernandez