THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

by David Sisler

The Internet search engine pulled up 73 pages of possible matches to my question. One of the links was to a bookseller who was offering a recent publication on the subject. Scrolling down the page, I was stopped by a review written by a customer. Several moments later I wiped the tears out of my eyes to be sure I had actually read what I thought I had read. It was no mistake. The "reviewer," identified only by an email address in Utah said, "I never actually read the book, but I have read a lot about the book and I absolutely loved what I read."

As a pastor friend of mine in Alabama says, "There is a whole lot of preaching in that one!" It is especially applicable to Ron Harris and his Internet site advertising eggs for sale not the "sunny side up" variety, but human eggs.

There was a lot of noise when Mr. Harris, a fashion photographer, first announced an on-line auction to sell the eggs of eight models to infertile couples wishing to have "beautiful babies." The project initially spawned "horror and disgust [from] mainstream infertility groups", then large amounts of silence, until The Weekly Standard last week exposed the story as a hoax.

Mr. Harris, whose credentials include 40 years of fashion photography, directing 13 one hour artistic specials for Playboy television, and discovering supermodels, has been married four times. He has three children. His pitch shouted, "It is natural for parents to want attractive children." Each time his wife was pregnant he hoped for a cute baby. If you can now believe anything he says, their third child was cute.

Harris says that beauty is the key to achieving lasting success: "Choosing eggs from beautiful women will profoundly increase the success of your children and your children's children, for centuries to come." The Weekly Standard described the whole thing as nothing more than a way to build traffic at Mr. Harris' porn sites. We should have seen the "gotcha" from the start, because Harris gave very few free details about his models. If you wanted more, you had to pay $24.95 per month.

In earlier reports criticizing the rush to buy beauty that Harris seemed to be offering, George Annas, writing for Slate, said there is "no way to know how much of [the models'] beauty is a product of their genes, plastic surgery, a makeup artist or exercise." William Saletan, the author of the piece concluded, "Children produced by the egg auction are likely to be the offspring of liars on one side and fools on the other."

In light of the hoax, it is little wonder that the words of King Solomon were ignored in all of this: "Charm can be deceptive and beauty is empty, it doesn't last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised." How much will you bid for that?

Even though Ron Harris ranks as one of this year's top hoaxers, his scheme did draw a few apparently legitimate bids. This nasty affair reminds me of the days when a Roman father could control the destiny of a child with a wave of his thumb. What type of parent would demand a "beautiful" child? What type of parent would want a child only if it were "cute?" Does this mean that the parent would not love the child if the infant were less than perfect?

Anyone who demands such flawlessness in their offspring should meet Lorraine. Lorraine is struggling against one of the thickest bureaucracies in the world, trying desperately to adopt a little boy named Rustam. Rustam lives in an orphanage in Ekaterinburg, Russia. He was born with only one foot and "walks" on his knees. All Lorraine has seen is one photograph of Rustam, and not a very good one at that, but she loves him with all of her heart and wants him to be her son. In fact, she already calls him, "my son."

Because Lorraine had earlier planned to adopt a girl, she collected a closet full of girl's clothing. She has given them all away to her niece, on the very slim hope that she will be able to adopt Rustam.

An old preacher named Samuel wrote, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." The Lord God Almighty has only one begotten Son. The rest of us, who are his children, were adopted into his family. And he took us just as we were, ugly, deformed and all. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, aren't you glad that God looks at us through the son named Jesus?

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Published in the Augusta Chronicle 12/11/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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