It sure would be nice if the Bible spelled out exactly what is acceptable to Our Lord regarding infertility procedures and treatments, but unfortuately it doesn’t. So, how do we discern the Christian response to infertility? We should look at the big picture of God and his creation to understand our limits.
God is our Creator. In the creation of the world and of man, he communicates his immense love. When we peel back the layers of the infertility onion, we innately know the core issue at hand. We are certain that no creature has the power to create something from nothing. However, our good God, allows us to participate with Him in creating other humans, we are co-creators with God.
There are two passages in Genesis that illustrate an essential concept for marriage and baby-makin’. The first is: “..while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. They become one flesh.” The second is: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’” (Gen 1:27-28) . The key ingredients in co-creation are: spousal union and procreation. For some reason, this is a hotly debated topic. But to me it seems necessary that a husband and wife must be in complete physical and spiritual union and be open to having children. Otherwise, how would God perpetuate humanity? After all, who are we to question his design!
On the hearts of Adam and Eve, and therefore our hearts too, we have this truth written. When we offend Truth our conscience alert us. When we have an active conscience we begin to ask questions, such as:
- Is in virto fertilization (IVF) ok?
- Is artificial insemination acceptable?
- Should we find a surrogate mother?
- Can we use another woman’s egg or man’s sperm?
- How is the proper way to collect semen without exploiting my husband?
Why do you think we ask these questions? It is because something in us is alerting our consciences. If you are asking these or similar questions…congratulations! You have an active conscience! Just to give you a quick reminder, your conscience is a deep voice within that calls you to love God and to do what is good and not evil.
What about those who don’t ask these questions? For us all, it is important we are “present” enough to hear and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting our souls. Our lives are so busy and filled with external distractions and noise, which is why prayer, meditation, spiritual advisors, and church services or Mass is your conscience’s daily bread. We will listen, but we are also obligated to act in accordance with the Holy Spirits promptings.
Christ-Centered Procedures and Treatments
The web is saturated with answers to the questions posed above. My hope is to present you with the criteria to make informed, Christ-centered decisions. Therefore, if you are questioning a procedure, ask yourself one simple question:
Does this procedure or treatment help marital intercourse or does this procedure add “someone else” into the act of conception other than my husband?
It’s simple, right! We simply follow the guidelines God gave us, “’This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Mt 19:5-6). The reason this question is important is becasue it helps you to evaluate if a procedure or treatment removes the actual union of the married couple. In terms of pleasing God, it is recommend that we take a conservative approach to treatment of infertility. Our salvation is at stake!
Simple Christ-Centered Criteria
Biblically Supported Procedures:
- Observation of the naturally occurring sign(s) of fertility such as FertlityCare System. Time intercourse on the days of presumed (potential) fertility for at least six months before proceeding to medical interventions. For some women who recently used chemical contraceptives, it may take longer to see signs of fertility.
- General medical evaluation of both spouses for infertility.
- Post-coital test to assess sperm number and viability in “fertile type” mucus. These tests are undertaken after normal intercourse only.
- Appropriate evaluation and treatment of male factor deficiency. Seminal fluid samples can be obtained from a non-lubricated, perforated condom after normal intercourse.
- Assessment of uterine and tubal structural competence by imaging techniques (e.g., ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram, etc.).
- Appropriate medical treatment of ovulatory dysfunction.
- Appropriate (usually surgical) correction of mechanical blocks to tubal patency (the state of being open).
If tubal function cannot be restored, transfer of an ovum past the point of blockage into the uterine cavity — “low tubal ovum transfer” (LTOT) proceeded by normal intercourse during the fertile phase. In England, this procedure is called NEST (normal egg sonographic transfer).
Non-Biblical Assisted Reproductive Technologies:
- Obtaining a sample of seminal fluid by masturbation. In Genesis 38:9-10, God was not pleased with Onan when he “spilled his semen on the ground”. As you know, when men are asked to give a sample, they had him a sterilzed cup and a pornographic magazine. Jesus was extremely clear, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28, additional references are Proverbs 6:25, Col 3:5, James 4:2, James 1:14-15)
- Artificial insemination by a non-spouse (AID), or even by the husband (AIH) if the sample is obtained and handled by non-licit means (masturbated specimen). (Matthew 5:28, Proverbs 6:25, Col 3:5, James 4:2, James 1:14-15)
- In vitro fertilization (IVF), zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), ovum donation, “surrogate” uterus.
Informed Conscience Decision
- Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT).
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) of “licitly obtained” (normal intercourse) but technologically prepared semen sample (washed, etc.).
Peace and Confidence
Sisters, I know some of this is going to be hard to accept, but in the case of assisted reproductive technology, the end doesn’t justify the means. What matters at the end of the day is that you made decisions that please Jesus, you made decisions that keep your relationship with your husband intact, you can go to sleep at night knowing you did everything you can to have a baby in a holy, admirable, strong and commited way.
There is so much more that can’t be put down here. I would like to make myself available to you to answer any questions you have about what is presented. I am here for you.
“For with God nothing will be impossible.”