Part 1: DNA Testing and Unexpected Results - How should Christians respond when it happens to them?

Have you SEEN the news lately? DNA testing has caused one media frenzy after another. Ancestry, 23 And Me and other companies are leading the way in connecting our DNA with the world. There is even a non-profit established to help those with shocking DNA discoveries - it’s called NPE Friends Fellowship, founded by Catherine St Clair.

The traditional family structure is being challenged by folks locating half siblings, biological parents and other family members. Individuals are discovering that one, or both parents aren’t who they thought. People with this unexpected event are being called NPEs. NPE stands for Not Parent Expected. Originally, NPE was recognized to mean Non Paternity/Parental Event by the genealogy and genetics communities. But as the discovery numbers have increased (both maternal and paternal surprises are happening) the acronym meaning now embraced by the NPE community is Not Parent Expected.

Obviously, God cares about genealogy. There’s an entire book of the Bible devoted to who begat who - it’s Deuteronomy. Most of us skip over it because it’s “boring.” But to God, knowing our family heritage, the heritage of our people. is important.

A woman once explained to me, that her Mom said it was in the Bible that we should not go looking for our family past - that’s why she shouldn’t take a DNA test. This is absolutely not true!

In this day and age it’s not if someone you love or someone in your family will make an NPE discovery, it’s when.

Here’s some of what is happening as a result of DNA testing world wide. Are you ready for it? What is a proper Christian response?

Secrets are being revealed.

Through DNA testing secrets are coming out. Some of those secrets are selfish, others are painful trauma memories or merely a decision thought best at the time.

  • Affairs

  • Rape/Incest

  • Switched at Birth

  • Adoption

  • Donor Conception

  • Kidnapped

  • And more!

Recently, I heard a statement, “There is a difference between truth and fact.” The fact - your DNA is connected to someone you didn’t expect. The truth - mom and new bio dad have different stories.

The “truth” can be approached much like a crime-scene detective. The detective comes up to the scene of a crime where there are several witnesses. Each witness has their own perspective - they saw one aspect, one angle of the crime. The detective interviews and listens to each witness tell the “truth” about what happened. Then he takes each of the those stories and sees where they overlap to get the facts.

Often in unexpected parentage discoveries, you must get all the “truths” to determine the facts. Mom and bio dad have their own perspectives. Focus on the facts, not the perspectives.

Perhaps a young girl fell pregnant and was forced by her parents to give up her baby. Perhaps a woman was raped, and chose to give up that baby for adoption. Maybe the parents split up before the child was born and mom never told the child about their father. The situations are endless.

If you are the one holding a secret, it’s just a matter of time before someone figures it out because of DNA testing. Don’t add insult to injury by laying more lies on the story. Come clean. When you tell a lie, misdirect and blame or make up a radical story, you are only further hurting your child and family.

Christian Perspective:

Some of the greatest elements of Christianity are love, compassion and forgiveness.

  • If you have a child you know has a different biological beginning then they think, the most loving thing you can do is gently, tell them them your truth. Once an NPE discovery has been made, individuals are having mental breakdowns, all the way from being diagnosed with PTSD to attempting to take their own life. There is a complete crisis of identity. Yes, you may be embarrassed. Yes, the memories may be painful. Yes, your family might struggle. But hearing the truth from Mom or Dad directly is much more loving and better for your child’s overall well-being then them looking at surprise results on a computer screen.

  • If you are the NPE, show compassion to those who gave you life. Consider the era in which you were conceived or in which your biological parents were raised. Having a child out of wedlock, from an affair or an attack was viewed much differently than our society today. Let me clarify. Compassion isn’t excusing someone’s behavior - it’s using empathy to understand their perspective.

  • Forgiveness is a touchy word. But forgiveness isn’t giving that person the free pass to hurt you again or even be actively involved in your life. You can forgive someone completely with boundaries still in place. When you choose to forgive someone, whether they’ve asked for your forgiveness or not, you are choosing to do what is best for yourself, because you will not allow that person and situation to continue negatively affecting your life. Forgiveness can be necessary for anyone involved in an NPE discovery situation.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
— John 8:32 KJV

When there is a time for truth telling, there is a time for freedom finding. When your conscience is clear before man and God a burden is released. Not only are there physical benefits, but mental, emotional and spiritual as well.

...and men loved darkness rather than light...
— John 3:19 KJV

When the truth is spoken, darkness is lifted. When you no longer cover a lie or secret, it’s like stepping into the light.

(If you were raped, that is one of the most terrifying things that can happen and I weep with you. Allow God’s love to erase any shame you may be feeling. It’s not your fault, it’s not the baby’s fault. Don’t allow the evil to continue controlling you and your child by lying about how they got here. You and your child have nothing to be ashamed of. If there are influences in your life that have shamed you or told you to stay in the background shut them out. God doesn’t work that way.

If you are the child who’s mother was assaulted know this - it’s not your fault. Your life is precious. God has a plan for your life that is unique and important.)

As a Christian, telling the truth is at the core of what we believe. It’s one of the Ten Commandments after all. Please know the difference from shielding a person from facts, until they are ready and intentionally omitting or misdirecting what someone believes.

Corrie ten Boom is a Holocaust survivor and hero of our Christian faith.  She wrote about her experiences in her book, The Hiding Place.  Corrie’s father was a wise man, she once asked him a questions that he felt wasn’t appropriate for her age. He was packing for a trip and asked her to go over and bring him is suitcase. She struggled to even lift the case. In essence, his reply was, “When you are strong enough to life my suitcase with ease, you will be old enough to handle the answer to that question.” I’ve always loved this!

To read Part 2 of “DNA Testing and Unexpected Results - How should a Christian respond?” please click the button below…

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Rebekah is not a licensed therapist. If you are having thoughts or feelings of suicide, please contact a help line (1-800-273-8255) or immediately speak with your therapist.

This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition, it was merely written to give personal observations and opinions.

Rebekah recommends speaking with a licensed, professional counselor after an NPE discovery has affected your life.