My question is about Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) In the case of a Christian married couple where the wife is said to be infertile, and doctor recommends ART. This means that the wife accepts a donor egg of which her husband’s sperm will be used to fertilize and eventually the embryo transferred to wife’s uterus with the hope of achieving pregnancy. Is it morally acceptable in the sight of God to do this? Or the other way around, can a wife use a donor sperm if her husband is said to be infertile? What does the Bible says about it? What would be your advice be to a couple who is faced with such situation?
It is fairly obvious that the New Testament does not directly address the subject of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Science was not even invented for more than a thousand years after Christ. Neither the language nor the technology existed, so the Bible does not address the question. If we are going to decide whether using artificial scientific/technological means to achieve pregnancy is acceptable in the Christian worldview, we will have to use principles, rather than hoping to find a relevant command.
Let us start here. God totally understands the human desire to produce children. As a spiritual father, God seeks children to bless. That we exist at all is because God wanted to be a spiritual parent. The desire to bring souls into existence on the earth, arguably, is part of what we inherit when God puts his image on us. Therefore, I conclude that God is fully understanding of a woman’s (or a man’s) desire to have children of their own. Applying this biblical principle, it would support at least the possibility of using these technologies to achieve this godly end. Therefore, I tend to lean toward yes, unless there is a strong moral reason to say no.
The question, then, is whether an artificial means such as in vitro fertilization (husband’s and wife’s seed joined outside the body and then implanted in the woman) or artificial insemination (using the sperm of someone other than the male spouse to produce a child, either by injecting the sperm or using in vitro), or Assisted Reproductive Technology, which combines the two—using an egg from a woman other than the wife, and forming the embryo from the husband’s sperm in vitro is morally acceptable for a Christian. In the first case, both parents are the spouses. In the second and third, someone not the spouse is being used as a source of seed to produce the child.
There is no biblical mandate that I know of which outlaws such a procedure. None of these were possible in the first century, obviously, and the New Testament only deals with actual situations at that time. There are some sincere believers who find the use of these technologies inherently sinful. I have good friends who feel this way. They feel that use of such technologies implies that the human is taking the place of God. I do not feel this way, personally, at least not necessarily. Taking antibiotics can be viewed as taking the place of God. Yet, God desires that we be healed and nearly all rational Christians will support the use of this “technology” to save life.
Given that there is no scripture which absolutely, prescriptively resolves this question, I believe that Christians will need to tolerate a variety of views on this question of medical ethics. We can use Romans 14 to think about this issue. In this chapter Paul deals with questions of conscience. He advises the “weak” (in this case, those who oppose using artificial reproductive technologies) that they should not violate their consciences. If they believe it is wrong, then it is wrong for them to do it. Paul also advises the “strong” (in this case, those who feel that it is not a sin to bring a child into their family by artificial means) that they need to accept those who think differently. They also ought to be cautious about hurting the conscience of their fellow believers. It is hard to know how to do this, as, to bring a child into the world through artificial means will likely be “in the face” of those who feel it is wrong. This topic requires much wisdom and much grace on both sides of the moral question.
Speaking for myself, I am personally supportive of those who choose to use in-vitro fertilization to produce a child. It is very expensive, and perhaps this large sum of money could be used elsewhere, but I completely understand those Christian couples who go this way. The moral question here, in my opinion, is with the embryos which are not used and which are destroyed. Some respond to this by requiring that all fertile embryos produced be implanted, thus eliminating the potential moral quandary of destroying a human embryo. As for artificial insemination using an alternative male and ART using a female other than the mother, I find myself thinking that I would not be willing to do this. But then, I have never been in the difficult position of a parent who desperately wants to do something that God put into us as a desire. So, I will not judge a believer who uses the second or third category of artificially giving birth, but I doubt I would take this route. The problem of having a child, one parent of whom is natural and the other of whom is some random other person is a step too far for me. It will naturally create difficult questions later in life about who is the actual parent. However, I cannot produce a scripture which outlaws the use of this technology, so I feel it is not my place to pronounce God’s will over this question.
I am sorry to leave the question more open than you might have wanted, but that is the best I can do, given the lack of clear scriptural mandate.