They’re calling it the “mother of controversy!”

They’re calling it the “mother of controversy!” And of course, the whole world is watching. After all, it isn’t every day that a 33-year-old woman gives birth to eight implanted embryos. Octuplets—the word is so unusual my Word spell check wants to change it to “couplets” (perhaps a more reasonable proposition for a mother wanting babies). While the initial news story was on the level of “miraculous births”—the unfolding details have shifted the headlines from “hallelujah” to “bizarre,” since now it’s been learned Nadya Suleman was already the mother of six children under the age of eight. That makes fourteen youngsters for this college-educated single mother to rear, living at home with her parents in Whittier, California. According to her newly hired publicist, million dollar proposals are being offered for rights to “scoop” the story of the young mother’s feat. “‘My client is a wonderful woman, she’s smart, she’s bright, she’s well-educated, and she has a wonderful sense of humor,” crowed PR consultant Joann Killeen. ‘She’s looking forward to being the best mum she can possibly be to all her children. She looks at this as a blessed event.’” (

Fourteen children under the age of eight certainly qualifies as an “event”—but “blessed”? But lest we indulge too quickly in sanctimonious judgment, we can only imagine the collective astonishment of the universe over its own multiple-babies headline long ago: “Creator spares fallen first couple—grants them permission to procreate sinners across the earth.” Can you imagine the universal shock over divine grace’s decision to populate this planet with earth-bound sinners? Was God “having babies” for the fun of it? And what kind of Parent could possibly provide for so many children at once!

“‘Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made’” (Isaiah 43:6, 7). Multiple sons and daughters from the ends of the earth—and all of us, each of us, willed into existence and created by God for his own glory—you’ve got to admit it’s an astounding destiny for us multiple birth children!

A destiny in glory that begins here on earth—that’s the premise that underlies our Black History Sabbath today. For fallen though we all are, the divine grace that chose us to be born promises to shape our multiple-birthed complexities and diversities into a single, united community where Christ’s love is the most compelling and contagious reality. “‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’” (John 13:35). Octuplets, sextuplets, quadruplets—never mind the numbers—Jesus has called this academic community to be Family for a world hungry to be loved, even if only for a lifetime. And who needs a publicist for that?