Sitting in a Bible class you overhear a Christian woman offer to be a surrogate for a mutual friend who has tried unsuccessfully for over a decade to have children. How do you respond? Would your response be based on emotion or Scripture?
Consider the couple who had been struggling with fertility for years. Finally, after being unsuccessful for so long, this couple from Nova Scotia came upon a solution. They would hire a surrogate to give them the child they so desperately wanted. And so, in 2010, New Brunswick resident Cathleen Hachey, signed a contract to carry a child for the couple. Cathleen learned several weeks later that she was carrying not just one child, but twins! At her 27th week of pregnancy, Hachey received a text informing her that the couple was getting a divorce, and that they were no longer interested in having a baby.
Or, consider the Buzzanca case that happened in the United States. Luanne and John Buzzanca suffered from fertility problems. After several years of trying, they decided to use donor egg and donor sperm to form an embryo. That new child was placed into the womb of a surrogate mother. Roughly nine months later, little Jaycee was born. But, here is the problem—just like in the case above, the Buzzancas decided to divorce while the baby was growing in the surrogate’s womb. By the time the baby was delivered both Luanne and John disclaimed any parental responsibility for the child. Because the sperm didn’t come from John. And the egg did not come from Luanne. For the first time in history, the court ruled that baby Jaycee had no lawful parents.
We have the “technology” for surrogacy–but what should a Christian’s response be?
So I will address some Scriptures to consider in my next post. But before that, I want to give you some real considerations to truly think about. Sometimes we hear the beautiful story of how “they were able to finally get the family they always wanted” and we forget to consider the ethical and biblical ramifications. We need to remember the “ends do not always justify the means.” Just because we place a baby in someone’s arms does not mean it’s okay and following God’s will.
Also, for those who may have used surrogacy, my comments do not mean you are evil or I think your child is bad. This is not a personal attack. I’m trying to arm you and other Christians with knowledge that may prove useful when you have to give an account to God. What I’m trying to do is bring Christians to a full knowledge of what is going on and line it up with Scripture. We always need to remember that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.
While surrogacy may seem like a wonderful option for childless parents, the cases below demonstrate how quickly things can spiral out of control:
1. In 2015, Anne-Marie Casson gave birth to what would become her grandson. Her homosexual son Kyle asked his mom to act as a surrogate. Using a donor egg and Kyle’s sperm, an embryo was implanted into Kyle’s mother resulting in the birth of baby Miles (see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/I-don-t-care-people-think…)
2. In another case, an Australian couple left behind a baby with Down’s Syndrome that was carried by a surrogate, but took the healthy twin girl with them to Australia. This all took place, even after the father had been convicted of molesting young girls. (see https://www.theguardian.com/…/baby-gammys-twin-sister…)
3. What happens if the baby is born and is not 100% healthy? One mother, when informed that the baby she’d paid a surrogate to deliver had been born with a form of muscular dystrophy, exclaimed, “I don’t want a dribbling cabbage for a daughter” (see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Surrogate-mother-twins…)
4. Jennifer Cramblett, a lesbian, sued the baby clinic who had inseminated her because they had mistakenly impregnated her with a black man’s sperm, calling it a “wrongful birth” (see https://www.cbsnews.com/…/wrongful-birth-white-woman…/).
5. In 2011, a Colorado mom was stuck with over $200,000 in medical bills. The mom of four, Carrie Mathews, signed a contract with the Bakoses, an Austrian couple, to act as their surrogate. After the baby was born, the Bakoses made off with the baby and stiffed Carrie of more than $14,000 that they’d promised to pay her upon delivery. What’s worse, the hospital, where the child was delivered, hit Carrie with a bill totaling $217,000 (see https://abcnews.go.com/…/surrogate-mom-stuck-with-a…).
6. In 2011, Kelley Crystal was implanted with two embryos from a couple seeking a child. One of the embryos implanted, but an ultrasound revealed several problems such as a cleft palate, a small head, a rare condition where many body organs are in the wrong place, and several life-threatening heart syndromes. Crystal was offered $10,000 by the donor couple to abort. She asked for $15,000, but they refused. Crystal then fled to Michigan, where the law gives legal custody rights to the woman who actually bears the fetus to term. (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/US-surrogate-mother…)
7. A Michigan surrogate, Shelley Baker, delivered twins in 2009, and parents, Scott and Amy Kehoe, were ecstatic. However, after Ethan Paul and Bridget Lily were born, Baker discovered that Amy Kehoe had once been arrested for cocaine possession and had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Fearing for the children’s safety, Baker came and took the babies back, and Michigan law allowed her to keep them (see https://www.mlive.com/…/georgetown_township_couple_tel…).
All of these cases should leave the reader really questioning the implications of surrogacy. As if these were not nightmare enough, consider the case I wrote about a few years ago:
Consider the consequences of the fertility scandal that occurred in May 1995 at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Center for Reproductive Health. According to the front page of the Orange County Register, Drs. Asch and Balmeceda, world-renowned physicians and experts in the field of infertility, were accused of stealing eggs and embryos, and of deliberately switching eggs and embryos among patients. As court proceedings continued, it became clear that these doctors stole eggs and embryos from fertility patients and then sold them to unsuspecting infertile couples.
The result was genetic chaos. In some cases, fertility patients who were going through series after series of drugs and surgeries without success, discovered that their genetic child was born to another couple. Who, then, is the “real” parent? And should the court require the children be returned to their genetic parents, even after living for months(or even years in some cases) with other parents? (see Matters of Life and Death, 2004, Harrub et. al., p. 26).
Can you imagine trying to unscramble this horrendous mess? Who would be the legal parents? What rights would the child have?
By law, in the United States, medical procedures performed on humans must be performed under informed consent and must be in the patient’s best interest. This prevents humans from becoming “guinea pigs” in clinical research and ensures that patients know what is going on. Consider for a moment the case of surrogacy. The embryo cannot give informed consent.
What is God’s will in this situation?
So What is the Biblical Answer?
Christians must understand that the Bible teaches that God can open and close the womb.
• “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31).
• “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ (Genesis 30:22-23).
• So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife” (Genesis 20:17-18).
• “’Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God” (Isaiah 66:9).
As a result, the first place Christian couples should go if they find they are struggling to conceive is to the throne room of God in prayer.
And then comes the hard part. Couples must be willing to humbly submit to the will of God. It may be God’s will that they not have any children. Remember, you are still able to serve Jehovah without children. In 2 Samuel 6:23 the Bible informs us that Michal, daughter of King Saul, never bore children for David. Several women in the Bible are described as “barren,” but this condition did not prevent them from faithfully serving the Lord! It may be this couple can adopt.
But please do not miss this point—for far too many infertile couples, having children shadows everything else in their lives, including their marriage and God. Everything is centered around that one goal. Hopefully, I do not need to remind anyone that God does not like to be in second place (Exodus 20:4-5). He does not want anything above Him—and that would include having a child.
Artificial insemination has allowed some infertile couples to bear children. As long as you are using the husband’s sperm and the wife’s eggs, then there is no problem with a Christian couple taking advantage of this modern technology in an effort to increase their chances of pregnancy. Obviously, this should be done while seeking to do God’s will (James 4:15-17).
But what happens when it is not the husband’s sperm that is being used? Or when you use a donor egg?
Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Some might argue that using donor sperm does not violate the marriage bed, however it is still another man’s seed that is being passed on. Anytime a third party is introduced into a marriage union Christians should ask if this is truly the will of God. Yes, we can perform artificial insemination with donor sperm, but what are the ramifications?
Let’s revisit Sarai (Sarah) and Abraham for just a moment. Do you recall what happened to Ishmael? Was he the father of the Israelite nation? Did Isaac have anything to do with it? Genesis 21 records: “So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away” (Genesis 21:14). That was his own flesh and blood, but Abraham had to send him away forever. I share this with you as a reminder that there is a high price to be paid every time we try and circumvent God’s plan.
Traditional surrogacy introduces at least one person into the covenant relationship between a husband and wife. A husband’s sperm is combined with a stranger’s egg and then allowed to grow in her womb. Just because the couple gets the child that they so desperately desire does not negate the fact that a man’s sperm cells were used to fertilize another woman’s eggs—another woman, who was not his wife. Paul told Timothy, “Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:14). Notice the divinely laid down order that Paul gives:
1. Marry first
2. Then bear children
3. Then guide the house.
As seen in the cases above, you don’t have to be married to have a surrogate child. In fact, in the case of homosexual couples, you don’t even need a husband or a wife.
Gestational surrogacy, on the other hand uses IVF. In vitro fertilization often results in extra embryos being destroyed or donated to research—in which case they are also destroyed. In vitro comes from the Latin term meaning “in glass.” IVF takes multiple eggs from a woman and sperm from a man and combines them “in glass” to ensure fertilization takes place. In some procedures, sperm are actually injected directly into the egg cell. So, while IVF is often considered a more effective form of assisted reproductive technology, it comes with more ethical problems and extremely high cost. While they are trying to reduce the number of leftover embryos (babies) this procedure still often results in 8-10 leftover fertilized embryos. What happens to these leftovers? Are they frozen in liquid nitrogen until the couple no longer wants to pay the storage fee? God did not give humans the right to discard and kill human life—even at this stage.
A review of three Bible passages would be good at this point:
Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Isaiah 49:1, “Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The Lord has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.”
Isaiah 49:5, “And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,”
Individuals, who have become bondservants of Christ, are called to take up their cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-26). This includes the realm of creating a family. We are no longer our own—but instead, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Being a bondservant of Christ means there are things that I can no longer do. There are actions I can no longer take. There are desires I can no longer fulfill. Instead, I am to be filled with Christ. The Hebrew writer put it this way, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). Rather than looking for the latest technology that might promise children, maybe we should be learning contentment.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13).
Indeed, we learn contentment in following God’s will! Given the concerns of violating the marriage bed or creating embryos that will become leftovers—and given the insane legal ramifications that have already resulted from surrogacy cases—Christians should seek alternative means of having children or enjoy serving Jesus Christ without children.