Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: In Vitro Fertilization and Idolatry?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Vitro Fertilization and Idolatry?

I imagine this quote will elicit some interesting responses. This quote by Dr. Moore, dean of the school of theology, is in reference to what he sees as a similarity between the gospel and adoption (literal adoption by a couple) and the need for infertile couples to adopt rather than have an in vitro procedure.

"We have had to sit down with infertile couples who are about to begin in vitro fertilization and tell them we don't think this is right and here is why. I have said to them, 'you are struggling not with infertility, but with idolatry because you are not really wanting children; you are wanting yourself."

I am still wrapping my mind around what Dr. Moore is saying here, but I think for the most part I disagree with him. I agree to the extent that an emphasis on self is dangerous in any area of a believer who holds to a Christian worldview, including a greater emphasis on one's own time, desires, and expectations than that of the family/child. This is an area that by the grace of God I will improve.

But I find one of the great themes of God's faithfulness and blessing, especially in the OT, to somewhat contradict Moore's assertion. Almost all of the heroic women in the OT were barren. Sarah, of course, is the best example. God repeatedly told Sarah that because of her and Abraham's faith, and sometimes in the lack thereof, He would ultimately bless them with a child of their own. Abraham and Sarah even attempted the surrogate mother thing, but that was not part of the ultimate blessing God had in mind. Abraham and Sarah's story is about obedience, faith and the blessings of God. Moore's point is about love of self and idolatry. Is there a connection here or do the two contradict one another?

Of course, Moore also has in mind the moral issues that in vitro raises, such as the fertilization of multiple eggs that are discarded after the procedure. But those issues aside (not because of a lack of importance), his comment raises some interesting questions.


Anonymous Rexwilder said...

Without addressing this issue directly (this isn't completely on topic, but this is an issue I have been wanting to address for a while), one thing I have always found interesting is how religious beliefs generally run behind the curve with respect to scientific advances. My point with respect to that is one must be very careful, it seems to me, to decide whether a position is truly a scriptual, theological, whatever, issue that rises to the level of trumping scientific advances. Religion is generally notoriously conservative and will fight against change if it seems to impact historical issues at all (there are, of course, various levels of this...the Amish refusing vaccines, when organ transplants first came about, the uproar by many protestant religious about that, the Catholic church's position on condoms, etc.). Science is a triumph of the human spirit, knowledge and ability, and I just think that anyone who is going to take a position against a scientific procedure (or the implementation of new science such as the in vitro) better be sure they have given it the thought and analysis (and prayer or whatever if that is appropriate) to make sure it is based in true doctrine/theology/whatever and not simply a knee jerk reaction. This happens naturally over time, which is why the vast majority of the previous scientific advances that were denounced for various reasons in the past are accepted today without a second thought (and the ones we fight over today will be accepted without a second thought in 50 years). We evolve as human beings and that evolution is part of the whole human package, and surely the Bible, our creation, our creator, the Koran or whatever, recognizes that fact. If not, we are using an out of date owner's manual that is not worth much anymore. That is not to say there are not some absolutes, but in my opinion there aren't many and we should be extremely sure that it is one of the absolutes before denouncing a scientific advance (or anything else for that matter) as against God's will or whatever.

February 13, 2007 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Floyd said...


I think you have an agnostic at best, atheist at worst on your hands with rexwilder. The point he makes a credible point that prayer (or thought/analysis) should be a prerequisite to any action, especially a surgery with the importance of InVitro, before that said surgery/procedure/operation occurs and I say that back in reference to this quote. The Bible is absolute in all truth. Our understanding and interpretation of that truth can be flawed. With that being said, I agree that we should carefully think and pray through issues as we scripturally understand our obligations to carry out or not carry out such actions, not because of a lack of truth found in Scripture but because of our lack of understanding with a sinful, fallen mind.

February 14, 2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Not sure where Floyd comes to that agnostic/atheistic conclusion as pertains to Rex... nothing in his comment seems to suggest anything like that that I can see.

He's saying that a lot of religious objection to scientific advances is kneejerk (and in my opinion, political) without full and careful consideration to how science fits into God's plan. As far as I'm concerned, science is the puzzle God gave to man to solve. Kinda like In the Beginning, God took a big Rubik's Cube, jumbled it up really good, and tossed it to man and said, "Here. Solve this. It'll take your entire existance and you'll never fully complete it but getting there will be really interesting for you..."

February 14, 2007 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Floyd said...


Assuming I am correct about rexwilder's religious belief or lack thereof, my comments are not meant to be taken offensive, it is just an observation concerning what seems to be his stance. His comments concerning religion are conceived in a "3rd person" mentality, and the placement of the use of prayer in parenthesis coupled with the overall tone of his remarks led me to that conclusion. Plus, he is not asking how science fits in with God's plan. He is saying science trumps God's revealed plan as an "out of date manual" unless that manual is willing to change with the years alongside culture and science. Of course, that is far from the point here. I believe your comments, Barry, are good and probably consistent with most Christians.

February 14, 2007 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Rexwilder said...

Floyd, actually the entire point of my post matches your statement that "With that being said, I agree that we should carefully think and pray through issues as we scripturally understand our obligations to carry out or not carry out such actions, not because of a lack of truth found in Scripture but because of our lack of understanding with a sinful, fallen mind." I don't think God screws it up. We screw it up. That's the point of my post of being sure we are comfortable that are decisions are scriptual (or whatever, to use my phrases you seem to like....which is a statement of inclusion not agnosticism I was using because certain people will grasp an irrelevant point ("oh, its not theological, its scriptual or its not doctrine, its theology" all of which is irrelevant to my point) rather than read a post for its entire text and point) before we disregard human advances...not science trumps God...but I think we want to be sure we are not making God scratch his head and say..."What are they talking about down there? I gave them knowledge and learning ability, they are using it to learn and advance but they are now using me to support stopping advancing."

February 14, 2007 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Agog said...

I guess I don't have a problem with in vitro but the question that I think would be interesting to answer is. . . . .if for whatever reason the in vitro process did not work, would the couple just give up or still look into adopting? If the former then it would seem there are some issues.

February 14, 2007 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Dezi said...

I am a mother of one. It took my husband and I a year and half to conceive our daughter. We did not use in vitro but it was a long journey. I disagree with Dr. Moore and his statement. First let me say I am not a Bible scholar just a plain old church goer and believer but our journey brought us closer to God. The Bible tells us God created us in His image and it was to tend to the Earth and have a relationship with Him. Which is what we want from our children.(there are some people who do things for the wrong reason but thats in any part of life) Having a child is the most selfless act I have ever done. Your whole life changes and you are not the center of it any more. Regarding the moral issues my bestfriend did have in vitro and does not believe in freezing or discarding the eggs she spoke with the doctor and only had 4 eggs taken( when usually 10 are taken) and implanted all four so none where discarded. So she used medical advancement but stayed in her beliefs.

February 14, 2007 4:41 PM  
Blogger Tim Kuehn said...

Desiring children is one of the purposes God made husbands and wives for (cf Malachi 2:15). Using medical technology to accomplish what couples without disorders do all the time can't be considered idolatry.

However - if the _reason_ why the prospective parents are going to in-vitro fertilization isn't about the children, but about themselves (maybe by ticking off some life-experience check-box), then I can see Dr Moore's point.

Sarah and Abraham's role in Isaac coming to be isn't cited about being about obedience _and_ faith, but rather about faith and one of faith's fruits - which is obedience. Faith is what gave Abraham the ability to obey God's instruction, and Sarah to conceive (Hebrews 11:8-11)

Obedience has it's place, but only if it's a fruit of faith.

February 14, 2007 10:38 PM  

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