With IVF and surrogacy being popular, even among Christians, it is important to know if these practices for having a child are moral.
IVF (In vitro fertilization) and surrogacy are popular subjects today. Usually, individuals will have IVF or use surrogacy if they have troubles with infertility. While the Bible doesn’t word-for-word mention IVF or surrogacy, we can understand the morality of these things from what we are given in Scripture. With IVF and surrogacy being popular, even among Christians, it is important to know if these practices for having a child are moral.
Surrogacy is implemented in the Bible between Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar (Genesis 16). Since Sarah was barren and couldn’t have children, she told Hagar to have a baby with Abraham, and the baby would be hers. Sadly, this doesn’t go well, and Sarah later gets upset about Hagar’s actions with her husband. Even though Hagar was just a servant, following orders from her master, Sarah ran her off and was very angry at her. Hagar runs away and only returns when God sends an angel to speak with her. Hagar returns, although there were always hard feelings between Sarah and her.
From this, we can see how much pain is associated with surrogacy. Even though surrogacy isn’t carried out in this manner today, the idea is still there. With surrogacy, another woman carries the baby that the couple cannot have on their own. This is generally because the woman cannot carry a child on her own. Many individuals feel there are moral and ethical problems associated with this practice. In the womb of the surrogate mother is the baby of the woman’s husband and the surrogate mother. While surrogacy may contain traces of the woman’s DNA, the baby is the surrogate mother’s and the woman’s husband's.
This alone can cause great distress to the woman to know that the baby is not solely her child. In the same way, the surrogate mother knows the baby will never be hers either. While surrogate mothers are supposed to keep a healthy disconnect from the baby, it’s not unreasonable to believe that there are some surrogate mothers who grow attached to the baby growing inside them. Even if the surrogate mother changes her mind and wants to keep the baby, there is no way she can. It would be illegal for her to keep the child as the child would belong to the couple who required her services.
All of these things can cause great pain and heartbreak for not only the couple but also the surrogate mother. While nowhere in the Bible is IVF or surrogacy condemned, we have to be aware of the problems associated with this practice. IVF (In vitro fertilization) can also help a couple have a child. The Mayo Clinic defines IVF as “a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child."
While IVF can use the eggs and sperm from the female and male, the eggs and sperm can also come from an anonymous donor. If the latter takes place, the baby would in a way still have the genetics of the anonymous donor. This can once again cause some distress or pain on the behalf of the male and female. Yet again, nothing strictly prohibits IVF or surrogacy in the Bible, but it is also different from the design God put forth to have children. It is a sad reality that many couples cannot have children on their own; however, there is an alternative to IVF and surrogacy.
The Biblical Practice of Adoption
The alternative to IVF and surrogacy is adoption. There are thousands of children across the globe who need a caring and loving home. If a couple cannot have children of their own, they should consider the possibility of adoption. These children are put up for adoption for a myriad of reasons. Some are orphans, and some were given up by their parents because they didn’t want them. By considering adoption, you would be truly helping a child in need.
Adoption is actually encouraged in the Bible because God adopts us as His own children. He dearly loves us and cares about us. In the same way, you can extend God’s love by adopting a child. While IVF and surrogacy are not directly condemned in the Bible, we do see the Bible portray adoption as a good thing. There will still be pain associated with adoption at times; however, there would still be pain associated with undergoing IVF or having a surrogate mother.
The insights of the Bible into the morality of IVF and surrogacy are mainly seen through Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar’s experiences. As we can see from this biblical event, it wasn’t joyful, nor did it bring Sarah fulfillment. Instead, it brought her much pain and anguish. Every believer needs to consider this before undergoing IVF or seeking a surrogate mother. Children are true blessings of the Lord, but we must also understand a person’s worth is not linked with whether they have a child or not.
The Pressures on Women
Often, in the present day, believers feel pressured to get married and have children as soon as possible. This rush and strain can cause anyone to feel overwhelmed. It is important to remember that even if you don’t have children after you’re married, God doesn’t love you any less. In fact, there are millions of women with infertility issues who will never be able to have a baby, and God doesn’t love them any less, either. If you are one of the women with infertility issues, know that God loves you just as you are. You are not cursed because you cannot have a child. You are dearly loved by the Creator.
Women can have infertility issues for many reasons, including genetics. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the woman. Sadly, even in modern culture, women are treated as though they committed some sort of sin, and that’s why they aren’t able to have children. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All women, regardless of being able to have children or not, are dearly loved by the Lord. If you are someone who has condemned a woman in the past for not being able to have children, this is a time for prayer and repentance.
Therefore, the Bible never directly condemns or says IVF or surrogacy is immoral; however, we can see from the Bible that the surrogacy between Hagar and Abraham caused Sarah unspeakable pain. In the same way today, IVF or having a surrogate mother may also cause you to experience a great deal of pain. Adoption needs to be brought into the scenario, and it needs to be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered. The act of adoption is a beautiful demonstration of God’s love. We were each adopted into God’s family, and He loves us even more than our earthly families ever could.
Whether you choose IVF, surrogacy, adoption, or being content with not having children is between you, your spouse, and God. Bring it before God in prayer and include Him in your decision. Don’t assume you know the answer right away. Take time to decide and ask God in prayer. Give Him time to answer, and be willing and open to the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit. God knows what is best, and you can count on Him to help you with this major decision because it will affect your future.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.