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Do fertility treatments go against God’s will for our lives?

Weekly Q&A

Do fertility treatments go against God’s will for our lives?
Posted on June 2, 2020  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

Is opting for fertility treatment going against God’s will of not gifting you with a child? What does the Bible have to say about this?

This is a good question, but unfortunately not one that is easily answered with a one-size-fits-all type solution.

In the Bible, we read that children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5). They are a blessing. We also know that part of God’s original command for humanity was to multiply and fill the earth. God created us for life and created us in such a way that we bring new life into the world through procreation.

At the same time, we read that some women are barren. We find that on occasion, through prayer, God opens the womb and a child is born (see Genesis 11:30 and Genesis 25:1, for example). 

God created us for life and created us in such a way that we bring new life into the world through procreation

We also read that if a man dies and has had no children with his wife that she is to marry the brother-in-law and their first child is to carry on the name of the brother who has passed away (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Granted this is part of the Old Testament Law, but this provision was put in place in part to aid with the woman being able to have a means of living after her husband dies. This also has to do with carrying on the family name.

Drawing the line

In this fallen world, we know that some men and women cannot have children. 

Over the past several decades, a number of advances in medical technology have allowed doctors to aid infertile couples with having children. Although technologies now allow us to pursue having children where it was not possible in the past, just because we can does not always mean we should.

A number of Christian leaders have condemned practices such as surrogate pregnancy and fertilisation that incorporates embryo destroying technologies or the exploitation of women. 

It is also clear that if we place children in our hearts as an idol and decide we will do anything to get children in defiance of God, then to seek fertility treatments would be sinful. 

Although technologies allow us to have children where it was not possible in the past, just because we can does not always mean we should

Additionally, we must remember that having children is not the sole purpose of marriage. 

Things to remember

However, there is nothing wrong with seeking fertility treatments if you are seeking God’s will and believe that He is convicting you to do so. It is important to remember several things at this point:

  • Christians believe that life begins when the embryo is formed at conception.
  • People are born in sin and, as a result, we live in a world where things are not as they should be.
  • Not being able to conceive is a product of living in a sinful world.
  • God uses medical advances as a means of grace to help us in the midst of the fallen world.
  • People seek medical treatments for headaches, sicknesses, cancers, etc. and it makes sense that people would also seek medical treatments for issues involving fertility.
  • Some treatments are considered unethical and Christians should abstain from such practices.
  • Some treatments are not unethical but may require caution.
  • All lives are valuable to God, and a child born as a result of fertility treatments is still a special creation who bears the image of God.

Ethical boundaries

Commercial surrogacy involves paying someone to carry a child and is typically considered unethical for either paying a woman less than minimum wage for the hours she is pregnant (seen as exploitative) or it is viewed as selling a child, as the child is given to another couple for a sum of money. This type of practice devalues life and should not be practised by Christians.

Today, when a person donates eggs or sperm, the process is typically achieved through artificial insemination and does not require a married couple to bring another person into the marriage bed. The traditional way that surrogacy was done involved bringing in another person. This should be avoided by Christians.

Commercial surrogacy devalues life and should not be practised by Christians

IVF (in vitro fertilisation) often requires creating more embryos that will be transferred into the womb. As a result, it can be considered destructive, because the embryos typically remain frozen until their death somewhere around 10 years after being created.

If a Christian chooses IVF, they should be prepared to carry any viable embryos to term in order to ensure the chance of life for all children created.

There are also other alternatives to fertility treatments, such as adoption and foster parenting. 

Be wise, be praying

If you are a Christian who has gone through fertility treatments that were in some sense unethical, know that God still loves you and that we are all sinners who have done things we wish we would have gone about differently. This could even be said of Christians who have had abortions who now realise that it was a wrong choice. 

If you are thinking about fertility treatments, do so with prayer and open communication with your spouse. Do not rush into something, and seek godly counsel as you make your decision about how to proceed. Medical advances that allow couples to have children that otherwise would go without are a good, but we must be wise in the practices we choose when going down that road.

If you are married and desire to have a child, I encourage you to pray and seek God’s will. He may bless you with a natural born child, He may push your heart towards adoption, He may lead you to open your home to children who are in need of foster care and a loving home, He may draw you to adopt an embryo on the brink of its ‘end-of-life’ that was unused by another couple, or He may show you that not every couple is meant to have a child in His plan. 

Whatever you do, do it with your heart for the Lord. Seek to please Him and walk in His ways. He will direct your path.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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