Is It OK for Christians to Use IVF?

This week, Pastor J.D. answers a question from one of our listeners, James: “Is It OK for Christians to Use IVF?”

Show Notes:

  • I do want to be sensitive here, because I know that there are probably people listening right now who are going through this.
    • I know that this is an incredibly emotional decision to make. Most of the time that decision has been preceded by a very emotional journey of trying to conceive and not being able to get pregnant. I know there are others who might be listening who actually were conceived via IVF, and and I’ll address that here later on as well.
  • So I’ll just start here, I see a potential problem that IVF can bring about that runs contrary to a biblical perspective on life, namely, that life begins at conception.
  • All human life, at whatever stage, is sacred.
  • Many times the procedure is carried out in a way where they take multiple eggs, because they’re trying to make the process as efficient as possible. Sometimes an implanted embryo won’t actually develop into a child or there’ll be a miscarriage, so they’ll actually fertilize multiple embryos at one time, and then the ones that they don’t use, they either freeze those additional embryos, or in some places, they’ll actually discard them. And that’s where there we find an ethical problem.
    • Because if life does begin at conception, then we’re dealing with human beings now made in the image of God. And that means we’re creating a number of individual people in the image of God who have a soul.
    • We create them with the knowledge that we’re likely going to be destroying a number of them intentionally.
  • Listen, I don’t claim to have the last word on this ever changing world of reproductive technologies. In fact, I would refer our listeners to the work of somebody by the name of Jennifer Lahl at the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Her work actually raises a lot of these questions and helps you think through them biblically.
  • But I do want to say as clearly as I can, that the idea that we would create babies in embryonic form as a fertilized egg, and intentionally discard them, that runs entirely contrary to a true pro life position.
  • While that is agreed on generally by evangelical theologians, there are some trusted evangelical theologians that have injected some nuance into this discussion that I think we ought to be aware of:
    • For example, Wayne Grudem, who is a very influential evangelical theologian has a very trusted voice and has been a consistently reliable voice in these kinds of things for years. He has an article with the Gospel Coalition called “How IVF Can Be Morally Right.” Not that it is always morally right, but how it can be morally right. It’s well researched and helpful if you’re considering this.
    • What he concludes is that IVF is a morally good action in some circumstances. He says, and I quote, “If IVF is used by a married couple, and if care is taken to prevent the intentional destruction of embryos, then it is a morally good action that pleases God because it violates no scriptural guidelines, achieves the moral good of overcoming infertility, and brings the blessing of children to yet another family.”
    • Dr. Grudem also says he says choosing to fertilize only one egg or two at a time and using those with the hope that they will survive is far different than the common practice of IVF, where several eggs are fertilized and then most are intentionally destroyed.
    • In that case, he says there is a willful and intentional destruction of human lives, which we would say is unethical because it violates the commandment, thou shalt not murder.
  • And let me also say this, if you are a married couple who is considering this, I would encourage you to make sure you’re thinking about all the different options you have in starting a family.
    • I know that not being able to conceive is incredibly painful. But there’s an incredible beauty and adoption and there’s such a need for it.
    • There are also Christian leaders who advocate for the adoption of unused, frozen IVF embryos that are out there. I’ve know some families that are very committed to life and say, well, that’s where we’re going to start. That’s where we’re gonna adopt because these are babies made in the image of God.
  • Lastly, if you’ve already used IVF, let me just speak as a pastor for a minute: My goal in answering this question is not to heap shame on you. God is sovereign. And he used that procedure to bring about life.
    • That doesn’t license everything that we do, but it does recognize that that there was a sovereignty of God. As you wrestle through the rightness, or wrongness, of certain decisions, you can always rejoice in the child that God gave you.
  • Maybe you’re listening right now and you were conceived through IVF, and you’re saying, “Wait a minute, was I conceived through an immoral means?” One of the beauties of God’s sovereignty is that he creates some of his best work through the mess of our choices.
    • Think about the cross: There was so much chaos, so much mess, but out of that God brought our salvation. He brought the resurrection—the most beautiful thing in history. Your life is precious, and God has a plan for you. You are not an accident. God knit you together in the womb, just like he did any of us. That’s what Psalm 39 promises all of us.

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