In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has been a debated topic among Christians for many years. Most recently, with the additional discussion about a 3-parent process, the debate has become more lively. Has science gone too far? Are we manipulating and controlling things that should be left only to God? Are we delving into areas that God never intended? How should Christian couples think through this topic?
It probably goes without saying but In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro (“in glass”). It is then implanted back in the woman’s uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy. IVF is described as an “assisted reproduction process”. It helps women get pregnant who can’t because of health issues within their reproductive system. It is an expensive process that seems to have an above average success rate. But what does God have to say about IVF?
I wish we could turn to an IVF passage in the Bible but we can’t so we need to think this through using other biblical truths.
1. God Created the Fertilization Process
Psalm 139:13-14 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God created our reproductive system, the process, and how it works. God is also the one who created our bodies, how they function, grow, handle sickness, heal, etc. But when our bodies are struggling and not operating in a healthy way, we usually look to science and medicine to help.
2. God Supports Medicine to Keep Us Healthy
As far as I can see from scripture, there is nothing to indicate that doctors and medicine are off-limits for Christians. For example, the Gospel of Luke was written by a physician whose profession was both valued and acknowledged. Paul the Apostle highlights this when he sends greetings to the Colossian church.
Colossians 4:14 – Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
We also see Paul providing medicinal recommendations in order to help Timothy with stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). The use of doctors and medicine in order to help our bodies function in a healthy way doesn’t seem to be a problem in scripture nor an issue of faith.
Therefore, if IVF is approached through the lens of helping an unhealthy reproduction system to function properly, it would be no different than having an endometrial ablation procedure to help an unhealthy uterus to function properly. In both cases, we are employing a medical treatment or procedure to keep us healthy and functioning normally.
Although IVF doesn’t readily violate any specific biblical truths, there are some potential problems that can arise if precaution isn’t taken. These typically occur when a medical procedure shifts from curing an ailment to accommodating a preference. For example, using a medical procedure to manipulate the sex, hair color, or eye color of an unborn child is no longer fixing a reproductive system problem. Things are now being manipulating in order to accommodate a preference or desire.
This is when sin can enter the equation and we overstep our role before God. This is when pride and discontentment can become the driving force and must be kept in check rather than redefining it as “better” science or “modern” medicine (see my blog post, Cosmetic Surgery & God).
I think it important to emphasize that as science and medicine continue to change and develop in the future, Christians will be challenged and need to consistently keep their motives in check by looking to God’s word for insight and direction. Otherwise, we all run the risk of simply following cultural cues and opinions rather than the Lord.
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