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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On "In Vitro" Fertilization?

Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position On In Vitro Fertilization?

We received the following question;

"How is it viewed in The Bible when a man and a woman cannot have children but take it upon themselves to get the job done? For instance, by having their egg and sperm fertilized outside of the woman’s womb or body then placed back in the womb! What is your take on this from a biblical perspective? To me this is doing God’s work which brings up another question, Is God’s spirit in this child? God bless you."

Thanks for your question. First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond to some of the questions that have already been submitted. Keeping up with The Cracked Door Foundation has proven to be a little more challenging than we could possibly have imagined. Apart from our careers and personal lives we've been investing any time we have left into The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. Pray that The Lord send us the people we need to help shoulder the load.

Nonetheless, The Lord has provided a long term solution which we will be rolling out next week. We're very excited about what He's doing with this ministry that's been around since September, 2006. What started as a website to market my first book, I Curse Death, has grown into what you see before you now. So, on with your answer.

Ecclesiastes 11:5(NLT) - Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Did you know that each of the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob faced fertility issues in their families? First, there was the struggle of Abraham and Sarah, then Isaac and Rebekah, then Jacob and Rachel. They all struggled to have children but in the end God worked miracles in their lives. So, fertility challenges are all over The Bible and God has proven Himself as a deliverer in many of those cases, over and over.

Infertility is a very touchy subject. When a married, Christian couple can't have children it's a troubling and difficult reality to deal with. They have chosen to do things the right way in the eyes of God by getting married before having children yet some can't seem to get the expected results. There is little you can say to a couple in that situation to truly comfort their hearts. The last thing we need to do is speak out of turn and not approach this particular topic with as much sensitivity as it deserves.

Nevertheless, just like it was when Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes 11:5, the mystery of childbirth remains a mystery today. Modern science may be able to explain the physical process from the point of conception to birth. It may also allow us to see it using ultrasound imaging and other means. Yet, nobody but God can explain when or how a human spirit enters a human body and turns an embryo into a living soul. That's the part of the process we have no power over and will never be able to control. Regardless, the question we must address today is whether or not we have the right to engage the benefits of biotechnology and modern medicine to interfere with the physical process of childbirth.

Genesis 30:1-2(NLT) - When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”

Proverbs 30:15-16(NKJV) - The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Listen to me. Some men might not really care to have children but according to Proverbs 30:15-16, the barren womb is never satisfied. If a woman has no children and she wants to have a child, there is nothing in the world that you can give her in place of that and The Bible acknowledges it. She can have all the money in the world, all the power, all the fame, her pick of men, the ability to travel anywhere, perfect health, good looks, everything you could imagine but she will never be able to fully let go of the thought of having children.

As a result, if there is any solution available for infertility, any woman in her right mind would at least consider it. She will never give up until it's either impossible or her spirit is completely broken. Hence, it doesn't matter what scripture you quote, you cannot tell a woman she should be okay with never having children when she wants children. Like the grave that takes and takes but doesn't give back, a desert that soaks up water and is quickly dry again or a fire that continues to burn as long as it has fuel and oxygen, the desire of a woman to have her first child cannot be quenched.

Genesis 1:26-28(NKJV) - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Before we move on to anything else, let's establish that as human beings we are mandated by God in Genesis 1:26-28 to be fruitful and multiply. As a result, just to carry out God's plan we must have children so the desire to have children is built into our DNA. The truth is that everyone will not have children. In fact, everyone will not even get married so that they can have children according to God's order. Regardless, someone has to have children for God's plan in Genesis 1:26-28 to continue. That person might as well be you.

So what's The Bible's solution for infertility?

1) Pray

Philippians 4:6(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Genesis 25:21(NLT) - Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Obviously, we can assume that a Christian couple who has started looking for medical solutions to infertility has already prayed. However, let's not make any assumptions and be thorough in our approach. Pray, then pray, then pray some more. That's such a religious sounding answer to someone in the middle of a tough situation but we have to always say it just in case people need a reminder. Like any other challenge you face in life, pray first, ask questions later. Once you pray, The Lord will then direct your steps. Sometimes, He just miraculously heals without the involvement of any human processes but sometimes He brings deliverance through processes that are already in existence.

2 Chronicles 16:12-13(NKJV) - And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.

Don't be Asa. Never trust physicians more than you trust God. The end! Okay, well not the end but you get my point. If you meet with doctors before you meet with God you might exacerbate your problem instead of getting a solution. Let me say something again, but this time in a different way. God will either miraculously heal you by His supernatural hand or He will use the hands of a medical professional or some other natural process. The point is, we must go to God first and then let Him direct the process.

Mark 5:25-28(NLT) - A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

The woman with the issue of blood spent all of her money at doctors before she ever got to Jesus who then healed her for free. We can't let the cart drive the horse and then be surprised when things don't work out. First, reach out and touch Jesus then He will either heal you instantly or He'll give you instructions to receive your healing like He did in John 9:7. This leads us to #2.

2) Explore Medical Options

Mark 2:17(NLT) - When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Colossians 4:14(NLT) - Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.

After prayer and by the direction of God, it is totally fine to visit the doctor for help. If something's wrong with your car you visit a mechanic. If something's wrong with your building you call a structural engineer or building contractor. If something's wrong with the electrical wiring in your house you call an electrician. If there's a pipe leaking you call a plumber. If something's wrong with your teeth you see a dentist. So if something's wrong with your body you see a doctor. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doctors. Luke, one of the disciples of Paul was a beloved doctor. Even Jesus acknowledged that people who are sick need a doctor so that's what they are there for.

There are many medical treatments available for infertility once the cause is known. When most of the treatments don't work they turn to in vitro fertilization. Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about in vitro fertilization;

"In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)."

As long as the husband's sperm and the wife's egg are used in the process I don't see any scriptural basis for objection. Their physical bodies are not functioning properly for some reason so a medical procedure has been created to bring healing to the process. Regardless of the way the sperm gets to the egg, under the right conditions, the biological process stays the same. What we don't control is how the spirit enters the embryo. That's God's decision.

Ecclesiastes 12:7(KJV) - Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Just like a spirit returns to God at death and the body decomposes, a human spirit comes from God at conception and the body starts to grow. Perhaps, the entrance of the spirit causes conception? Think about that. I believe that the spirit of a human being plays a role in controlling how DNA triggers the process of cell multiplication in a fertilized egg. This explains why even under perfect conditions, the process never works 100%. Doctors cannot guarantee that cell replication will take place resulting in the development of a fetus when they implant a sperm into an egg.

Jeremiah 1:4-6(NLT) - The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Did you see that? Jeremiah existed before his body was formed in his mother's womb, not just before birth. It's easy to acknowledge that God set him apart before birth because when you look at an ultrasound you see a person. However, how do you explain the fact that God knew him before he was even formed? Simple. The real Jeremiah existed before the physical Jeremiah and when the physical Jeremiah died, his body decomposed and his spirit returned to God.

Psalms 139:13-16(NLT) - You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Doctors do their part but God chooses whether or not the process of conception ever begins because there is no conception of a human without a human spirit that comes from God. This explains why no human being is a mistake. It doesn't matter the conditions of a sperm entering an egg, only God determines whether or not a fetus will form. He forms it. The only part of the process we control is the physical act of bringing the sperm and egg together whether through natural or scientifically enhanced processes. God determines if that embryo fully develops. Regardless, this brings us to #3 which is a stern warning.

3) Think Carefully Before Including A Third Person!

Genesis 16:1-6(NLT) - Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

One popular solution for infertility is the involvement of surrogates. In this situation, the sperm of a man is used to fertilize the egg of a woman outside of the body and the resulting embryo is placed into the womb of another woman. Sometimes, the couple desiring the baby donates the sperm and egg but many times, other people donate either the sperm or the egg or both. These donors can be anonymous. Though it sounds like a good idea when you first think of it, Abraham and Sarah tried their version of that option and it didn't turn out well.

When the process of conceiving a child involves three or four people the door swings open wide for drama. Right now, there's a famous actress who divorced her husband while a surrogate was carrying their baby. Since the "fertilized eggs" were not her own she claims that she's technically not the mother and should hold no responsibility for the child. The case is probably still dragging through the courts today. The person in the worst position in that situation is the surrogate mother who essentially plays the role of Hagar. She was just trying to help out and now she just can't win. This brings us to Option #4.

4) Adopt

Ephesians 1:3-5(NLT) - All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Do you know that every single one of us in The Body of Christ are adopted into His family? That's because we were born into sin and without Jesus are left outside of God's family. That's the example God set for us. When we were separated from Him and left out in the cold with only the devil as our father, God reached out and adopted us. If a Christian couple can't have children, adoption is always an option. That's why, the first step is always to pray. When you pray, God's solution might just be adoption.

James 1:27(NKJV) - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

What's the most important thing an orphan needs? A loving family! Right now there is a young lady living in your area contemplating aborting her unborn child because she knows she is not ready to be a mother. Why can't someone else who is willing and able raise the child? While there are Christian married couples crying out to God for a child of their own, there are unwed mothers crying out to God because they have children and can't take care of them. In the end, we end up with two problems. Parents who cannot or choose not to take care of their children and parents who cannot have children. Included in the first category are parents who died and left behind their children. Adoption is the solution to both problems.

We will end this blog today with a Word from The Lord;

Isaiah 54:1-6(NLT) - “Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities. “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
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