John Stonestreet and Maria Baer on One Couple’s Decision to Forgo IVF

Doctor Katarzyna Koziol injects sperm directly into an egg during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) at Novum clinic in Warsaw October 26, 2010. | REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Last week, I received a stunning email from a gentleman who had, only days before, learned from doctors that he and his wife would likely not be able to conceive children. The doctor did say that in vitro fertilization could be successful in their case. The email described the couple’s decision:

“We just can’t go forward with IVF. I know it could satisfy one of the deepest desires of our hearts, but the cost is unacceptable. A little boy or girl created with our own genetic material is not morally worth the many inevitable deaths of his or her embryonic brothers and sisters.”

I’m not sure what’s more impressive: the moral conviction shown by this young couple or just how deeply they understand the moral realities of artificial reproductive technologies.

In a culture that views children as products instead of image-bearers, many Christians feel lost when faced with similar decisions. We hear from them all the time, and, while I’m grateful to be a resource for those wrestling with these issues, the Church has, too often, simply failed young couples in this area, both in communicating a theology of children and in helping them navigate the ethical challenges of infertility.

Whether from Scriptural stories — like Abraham and Sarah, Samuel’s mother Hannah, and John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth — or from personal experience, to say that infertility is painful is an understatement, as anyone who has gone through it can attest. Even if lacking a clear ethic on reproductive technology, Christians tend to value children more than the wider culture. In this context, technology can seem like an answer to the prayers of those who wish to conceive their own children but cannot. It’s understandable why pastors and fellow believers would be loath to counsel against it.

All of this made the moral clarity found in this email so stark. This couple acknowledges that their deep, God-given desire for children is more than a matter of personal preference or a choice to further their happiness. Rather, it’s an inherent part of their marriage. Yet, they’ve sought to understand the moral complexities of IVF, realizing that means are not justified by well-intentioned, or even godly, ends.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Maria Baer

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