The counseling of couples that cannot conceive a child naturally is a very delicate matter. The struggle for a couple like this is going to be filled with the emotional elements of inadequacy and frustration, with lack of the ability to be fruitful and multiply as God has commanded.
Although this is an emotional issue, a Christian leader must be open and honest with regard to what the Bible teaches about using reproductive technologies to have a child. The discussion of using technology to reproduce needs to focus on three things: what technologies are available to the couple, what the Bible has to say about this, and what options of the contemporary age fit within the boundaries of Scripture. It is my position that the boundaries of using science for reproduction not only resides within the elements needed for reproduction—the egg, sperm, and womb—but also in what the Bible says about using elements from outside the heterosexual, monogamous marriage.
Looking at the technologies available, we see that there is the possibility of using scientific means to inseminate a women’s egg prior to any implantation. This means that with regard to the three elements needed to produce a child—an egg, sperm, and womb, it is possible to scientifically achieve a pregnancy using an outside surrogate with any or all of these elements, or by using only the couple’s elements.
It should not be surprising that the Bible is against the use of someone outside of the marriage to contribute to the procreation of the couple trying to conceive a child. In the Old Testament, Abraham used Hagar as a surrogate to produce a son and this was not attributed to Abraham as positive, it was seen as a lack of faith in God. In the New Testament, we see Jesus and the apostle Paul reaffirm the truth of Genesis 1 and 2 that God ordained marriage to be one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation. This briefly demonstrates biblically that procreation is to remain between the man and woman, within the marriage, and not include a third party.
So what can a couple do if they find themselves in the difficult circumstance of not being able to conceive a child? First, we need prayer and patience and to remember that God is Sovereign, that he has a plan, and that some of the things we want in life do not come in our time but in his. We also need to recognize that there are options for us to use science, but we need to be mindful of how we are using it so we are remaining faithful to the will of God.
Being faithful to God’s will and utilizing science to have children means that the couple should stay within the marriage for the three elements needed to produce a child. Simply stated, any help to reproduce needs to include only the couples eggs, sperm, and womb. This leaves the couple with options like Gamete Intrafallopian Tube Transfer (GIFT) and In vitro fertilization (IVF). Both of these options utilize the three elements belonging to the married couple, in GIFT the women’s eggs are removed, mixed with sperm, and then immediately placed back in the fallopian tube.
During IVF, mature eggs are collected from the women fertilized with the sperm in the lab, and then implanted in the uterus. One thing to keep in mind in the use of these options is that every fertilized egg should be seen as a person—we should only fertilize the number of eggs that will be implanted in the womb.
For couples that cannot have a child because of a physical problem residing in the man’s reproductive system or the women’s, I would suggest adoption. The Bible tells us in James 1:27, as follower’s of Christ, we are to care for orphans. Again, in Deuteronomy 14:29, we are to share our resources with them. Perhaps the situation you are in physically, along with your desire to have children, is God calling you to adopt. There is no better physical representation of what God has done for us through the Gospel than to adopt orphans that need someone to love, care, and provide for them.
I have hopefully demonstrated that God has spoken into this issue, even if the technology did not exist in Old and New Testament times. My hope is that I have also provided some ways in which to approach the subject of using science to have children and ways in which God can use our desire for children if we are physically unable to do so. Although the immediate inability to have children can be frustrating, it can also draw us closer to God. Anytime we go through hardship, we need to cling to God’s Word and follow his guidance in how we are to proceed, and not on our own understanding or desires.
Jassen Bluto – Grace Alone Apologetics