– by Got Questions
The problem of infertility can be a very difficult one, especially for couples who have looked forward to children all their lives. Christian couples can find themselves asking “Why us, Lord?”, surely God wants Christians to be blessed with children to love and nurture? For physically healthy couples, one of the most heart-wrenching aspects of infertility is not knowing whether it is a temporary or permanent situation. If it is temporary, how long must they wait? If it is permanent, how do they know that, and what should be their course of action?
The Bible depicts the problem of temporary infertility in several stories:
God promised Abraham and Sarah a child, but she did not bear a son, Isaac, until age 90 (Genesis 11:30). Isaac, Rebekah’s husband, prayed fervently, and God answered, resulting in the births of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:21). Rachel prayed, and at long last God “opened her womb.” She bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 30:1; 35:18). Manoah’s wife, who was infertile for a time, gave birth to Samson (Judges 13:2). Elizabeth in her old age gave birth to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:7, 36). The barrenness of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel (the mothers of the Israelite nation) is significant in that their ability to finally bear children was a sign of the grace and favour of God. However, infertile couples must not assume that God is withholding His grace and favour, nor should they assume they are being punished in some way. Christian couples must cling to the knowledge that their sins are forgiven in Christ and that the inability to have children is not a punishment from God.
So what is an infertile Christian couple to do?
It is good to seek advice from gynecologists and other fertility specialists. Both men and women should live a healthy lifestyle to prepare for pregnancy. The mothers of the Israelite nation prayed fervently for conception, so continuing to pray for a child is certainly not out of line. Primarily, though, we are to pray for God’s Will for our lives. If His Will is for us to have a natural child, we will. If His Will is that we adopt, foster-parent, or go childless, then that is what we should accept and commit to gladly doing. We know that God has a divine plan for each of His loved ones. God is the author of life. He allows conception and withholds conception. God is sovereign and possesses all wisdom and knowledge (see Romans 11:33-36). “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” – James 1:17. Knowing and accepting these truths will go a long way to filling the ache in the hearts of an infertile couple.
What does the Bible say
about in-vitro fertilisation?
In-vitro fertilisation is the process of joining a sperm and egg together outside of a woman’s body, then placing the fertilised egg, or zygote, in the woman’s body so that she can become pregnant. In-vitro fertilisation is a controversial issue among Christians, and the Bible does not address it. Therefore, it becomes a matter of conviction from the Holy Spirit.
God values every human life
He creates and plans for every birth. The Bible says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb” – Psalm 139:13, 15. Because the fertilised egg is a living human, there are some moral implications to consider. Often, couples decide to harvest more eggs than they plan to use, which means that some of the embryos end up being destroyed, or frozen for later use. However, if the couple conceives immediately, they may never need to use the frozen embryos, which would then end up being destroyed. The Bible does not give us permission to destroy innocent human life—this would be murder. One way to avoid this problem is to only harvest the eggs that the couple plans to implant in the womb. There is, of course, a high risk that at least some of the fertilised eggs will miscarry, but this way it would be a natural expulsion instead of purposeful destruction. This also means that the woman may have to go through additional procedures and expense to have more eggs harvested later on.
Yield to the Holy Spirit
Sometimes people, not wanting to wait for God’s perfect timing, get pregnant by in-vitro fertilisation out of impatience. The Bible tells us that yielding to the Holy Spirit will give us patience (Galatians 5:22), and so we must be careful not to take God’s work into our own hands when He may have other purposes for us. A couple should not get involved in in-vitro fertilisation without prayerfully considering the Will of God. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” – Romans 12:2.
What is the Biblical stance
on artificial insemination?
Artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), is a medical procedure in which a man’s sperm is implanted in a woman’s uterus at precisely the right time and in precisely the right location in order to increase the chances of pregnancy. While it is usually used in conjunction with fertility medicine in women, this is not always the case. Artificial insemination is different from in-vitro fertilisation in that fertilisation occurs inside the woman and in a more natural way, while in-vitro fertilisation occurs outside the womb, and then the fertilised egg(s) are implanted in the woman’s uterus. Artificial insemination does not result in unused or discarded embyros. Artificial insemination does not have as high a success rate as in-vitro fertilisation, but many Christians view it as a much more acceptable alternative.
Should a Christian married couple consider artificial insemination?
The Bible always presents pregnancy and having children positively (Psalm 127:3-5). The Bible nowhere discourages anyone from seeking to have children. The fact that artificial insemination does not have the moral dilemmas of in-vitro fertilisation would seem to make it a valid alternative. So, if artificial insemination increases the chances of an otherwise infertile couple having children, it would seem to be something a Christian married couple can prayerfully consider.
Artificial insemination does not “overrule” God’s sovereignty
Some object to all fertility options due to the fact that such procedures supposedly do not take into account God’s sovereignty. But God is just as capable of preventing pregnancy after artificial insemination (and in-vitro fertilisation, for that matter) as He is of preventing pregnancy after normal sexual intercourse. Artificial insemination does not “overrule” God’s sovereignty. Nothing overrules God’s sovereignty. As proven by the account of Abraham and Sarah, God is capable of enabling a reproductively dead woman to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. God is absolutely sovereign over the reproductive process. If it is God’s sovereign will for a woman to get pregnant, she will get pregnant. If it is not God’s sovereign will, she will not get pregnant, no matter what methods the couple attempts.
Ask for wisdom
Yes, a Christian married couple can prayerfully consider artificial insemination. As in all things, a couple considering artificial insemination should ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and very clear leading from the Holy Spirit.
Is being a sperm/egg donor a sin?
Is it a sin to use a sperm/egg donor?
These are difficult questions to answer. Some people would say that using donated sperm to fertilise an egg—or donating your own egg so someone else can conceive—is wrong because it seeks to bypass God’s Will. If God wanted that person to have children, the thinking goes, she wouldn’t need sperm from anyone other than her husband. However, if we take this reasoning to the extreme, then we would have to say that it is also God’s Will for a person with appendicitis to die, because performing life-saving surgery would “bypass God’s Will.” Such reasoning is fallacious because medical intervention is not inherently sinful.
Biblical grey areas
Still, there is a difference between saving a life in jeopardy (performing an appendectomy) and using medical procedures to aid in God’s creation of a new life. Just how much scientific advancement is God-honouring (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 10:31)? Is all technology something God desires His children to make use of? In these “grey” areas, a believer in Jesus needs wisdom. It is good to gather detailed information and make a careful study of the procedures involved in donating sperm/eggs or receiving donated sperm/eggs. Also, it is wise to consult with doctors and other believers and, above all, to spend much time in prayer.
God is the source of life
Ultimately, the creation of life is still in God’s hands (Psalm 139:13–16; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 110:3). Science may aid someone in getting pregnant, but technology is not the source of life, and God can still prevent any pregnancy He doesn’t want to happen. At the same time, God allows sin even though He disapproves of it. So, the question remains: is it sinful to donate sperm/eggs or to receive donated sperm/eggs? There are some important issues to consider regarding donating sperm that could help someone make an informed, God-honouring decision. The first two questions are for a man who is considering donating sperm:
First, is the donated sperm to be distributed among unknown mothers?
If so, you have no way of knowing if your child will grow up in a loving home, if he will be brought up to know the Lord, or even if she will have a two-parent home. Would contributing to an abusive family situation honour the Lord? If there’s a possibility that your child will not be reared in a Godly home, and if that possibility leaves you without peace as you pray about it, then it’s probable that the Lord doesn’t want you to donate.
Second, what effect will your donation have on the child it helps to create?
If you are not going to rear the child yourself, the child may struggle for years with questions about why you would “sell” him and never be a part of his life. Online blogs exist for children searching for their biological fathers (or “sperm donors”), as they try to come to terms with their unusual heritage.
Now, a question for a married woman considering using donated sperm: have both you and your husband considered the ethical and moral implications of introducing another man’s sperm into your body? God designed marriage to be a union of a man and a woman to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). For women considering donating eggs, the questions concerning their children’s home life and emotional well-being apply just as much to women as to men. Also, how will the eggs be used? To actually aid an infertile couple in pregnancy or to further embryonic stem-cell research?
Is this the same as abortion?
And, finally, a question for anyone to consider: is the sperm from the sperm bank used to fertilise more than one ovum (as in the in-vitro procedure)? Will the donated eggs all be fertilised? If so, multiple zygotes/embryos will be created, and some of them may later be destroyed because too many are growing in the womb. Other “extra” embryos are frozen and never implanted. If you agree that abortion is wrong, then you would probably agree that such treatment of embryos is also wrong.
Pray, read, wait
A believer should pray, read God’s Word, and wait for a clear answer from the Lord (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 1:9–10). Your decision affects many other people, and it affects the potential life (or even death) of other human beings.
Article source: www.gotquestions.org