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Dear Dr. Smith
42. Dear Dr. Smith
A single woman who is a member of the Church Board reported to her Pastor that she was pregnant. She told him however, not to worry because she was artificially inseminated. What should be the response of the Pastor, the Board, and the Church? Eagerly awaiting your response.
Dear Eagerly Awaiting,
There is no question that this is a complicated question with biological, ethical, moral, psychological and spiritual implications. There is no one answere that will please everyone, but let me give it my best shot. Also, at the end of my answer, please view some of the responses I got to this question from some of my Facebook friends.
What are the Biological Implications?
To improve one’s odds of becoming pregnant, a doctor probably will give a fertility drug before administering artificial insemination. The literature is replete with articles relating to multiple pregnancies as a result of intra-uterine insemination and fertility drug. One research indicates that intra-uterine insemination resulted in a 22% increase in twin births, a 4% increase in triplets, and a 3% increase in the number of quadruplets born to couples who undergo this procedure. In other words, while the individual maybe thinking of having only one child, there is a possibility that things could be different
What are the Ethical implications?
One of the ethical standards that Clinicians are governed by is called, Non-maleficence, that is to say, “do no harm.”
Parents have that ethical responsibility as well. Before bringing a child into the world they must decide not to “do harm” to the child. A single lady producing a child through the process of artificial insemination is inadvertently planning to do some harm to the child after birth.
To definitely make plans to become a single mother, is knowingly depriving the child of a father. (See the research on children of father absent homes) Every child deserves a fair chance of having a father to grow up with. How will the child trace his/her full genealogy? Will the mother carry her documents with her all the times to prove to others that she did not commit fornication? If the child is a girl and later decides to get marry, why should her mother determine before hand that her “give away father” must be “a give away relative or friend?”
What are the Moral Implications?
Every Christian will have to learn to restrain his passions and be controlled by principle. Unless he does this, he is unworthy of the Christian name. [1MCP 230.3] It is her moral responsibility to restrain her desires, especially because she is accountable to the household of faith. What does she say to young people? Is she providing a moral platform on which other single ladies can stand? Would everyone believe her story? What about non-believers, would they know or understand her situation? (WWJD) What would Jesus do?
What are the Psychological Implications?
It is one thing for a child to not know his or her biological father, it is quite another thing to conceive of your father as non-existing. In other words, it is easier for a child to digest this fact, “my father exist, even though I don’t know him, however, if I go searching I may find him” than to digest, “my father does not exist, he has never existed as a person for my mother, therefore, it makes no sense to go searching for him.” One statement provides hope the other destroys hope.
What are the Spiritual implications?
When David committed his double sin of murder and adultery, the prophet Nathan visited him and said to him, “because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” (2Sam 12:14)
Sometimes the Church has to take action, not because it does not have a redeemable mission, but that some actions committed by members, if not acted upon, can “give great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” Therefore, if a member of the Church board reported to the pastor that she was pregnant as a result of artificial insemination. The pastor, after ascertaining the facts, should take the matter to the Church board. The board should relive her of her responsibilities as an officer, and the Church should accept the action of the board without criticism for or against.
These are my Facebook responses: (Unedited)
No sex no sin. (DC)
I take that back this issue seems very complex being that our bodies are temples please disregard my previous answer (DC)
My questions are: where is the Bliblical support for this? What will she tell the child and explain who the father is and how she became pregnant? I think the issues are complex, morally and spiritually, and maybe ethically. I have no ready answer for this. This debate has been going on for more than 20 years. (CL)
A few points to ponder. First, does the Bible teach that children are to be family born? If so, how would this conform?
Second, does the Bible teach that we should not conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind? If so, how do her actions conform to this teaching of scripture?
Third, if scripture teaches that whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do should be done to God's glory, how is God glorified in this scenario or is it someone else who is being glorified and/or satisfied in the matter?
Four, I have operated on the principle that sometimes it is not what we do that may be wrong, but why we do what we do. Her motive for doing this in light of scriptural teaching has to be the guide here, don't you think? (BM)
Only married couples (Man and Woman) are suppose be fruitful and multiply. Leave their parents home and become one and then have children. Only Mary was excused from that command. She should have adopted. (CL)
If she was indeed artificially inseminated I don't see what's the problem with the church after [all] wasn't Mary the Mother of Jesus artificially inseminated, and they are so many kids out hear who don't know who their fathers are and they do very well (CM)
That does not mean it is right! (CL)
Since there is (of course) no Biblical precedent for handling this matter (insemination) and she is already pregnant the same censure for pregnancy out of wedlock should apply. Tact and love should motivate our response always. (IL)
Much prayer should be sent up for divine intervention. She should not be look down on with disdain. She should be treated with love by the pastor and the church members. She should be removed from the church board, because of the sensitivity of the issue and possible repercussions. The young girls and young ladies of the church should be counseled about the importance of allowing God's will to be done in their lives to prevent future copy cats (SG)
The whole reason, as I understand it, that the church takes issue with single women who become pregnant is because they had sex outside of marriage. This lady did not have a sexual relationship that led to her pregnancy. I honestly don't understand why there should be an issue. I have several friends in my peer group who have not gotten married for a myriad of reasons, but they wanted to raise a child so they chose artificial insemination. In some cases they knew the donor, in others they didn't. Instead of condemnation, this sister needs prayer and support as she raises this child. I believe that she can be a role model for young ladies about how to make responsible decisions, instead of sleeping around and then being stuck with an "accident." (LM)
This is very deep (SF)
God's Ideal for children is that they be brought up in a family setting of Father and Mother. If it were just for child bearing only, God could have created women to self impregnate. But God created male and female to bond in marriage and then be fruitful and multiply, hence I think it is as wrong as getting sexually involved. The other aspect is for the child growing up, seeing other children with their father and then not being able to tell who that child's father is. It can have a psychological impact on the child. The matter of the public perception on the church, is this individual going to tell everyone of the process that led to the pregnancy, everyone knows she is pregnant and single and to add to that is that as a board member she is an officer of the church!
How do you explain and justify to youth? Some may not even believe that explanation and this is the most critical aspect for the Pastor and the board. My humble opinion is in a loving manner the church must treat it as a pregnancy under normal circumstances. I don't think that the immaculate conception of Jesus should be used to give authority to artificial insemination. It is a technical situation and needs God's intervention to be handled tactfully and guard against serious controversy in the church. (TG)
Wow Doc, this is tough topic. There are many implications to this scenario, but I do believe she should step down from her position on the board. Even though her intentions may be right & well meaning, staying in active leadership might be a stumbling block to others. We have to be careful that in pursuing our own desires & aspirations, we don't compromise God's specific intention for His children. Not everything that is accepted in the world is acceptable for Christians'. Having said that, since she has already made the decision to bring a child into this world alone, she will have to deal with the consequences of her decision. (CRAG)
Well there’s not much they can do in terms of punishment because she didn’t break d law physically. However, Gods ideal for rearing children is not in single parenting but a nuclear family. God is all wise and He created man to reproduce through sexual intercourse and therefore, artificial insemination is not God's ideal. By d way who's sperm is it, a murderer, a rapist, a ......... any way its easier to bear children than to rear them and I know that a single woman can never play the true role of a father. It’s also unfair to d child......... (GG)
It is the lord’s intention that children be brought up in the ideal home. However this woman has not sinned against God as such I personally do not think she needs to step down.
I don't think it’s wrong in the same sense of being sexually involved. But my mind goes back to Abraham and his wife trying to help out God. Maybe her having a child isn’t the lord's will for her life. But how many times do we find our self "helping" out God. Have we in our situation sinned?
Should we step down? what’s the difference with this woman?
Don't get me wrong I am not justifying whether or not artificial insemination is wrong or right. I am just saying that it is the 21st century; it is time that the church read the fine print, read between the lines, as sin and ethical and moral dilemmas are more complex than before. Our approach cannot be one of ignorance and be quick to judge , we need to seek the throne of God and ask for direction to solve these challenging questions. (YK)
It's not our place to judge this young lady's decision to become a single mother, plus we are sinners SAVED by grace. Let's be supportive and help her raise this baby. The deed is already done.... so glad god is not like man. (JH)
It better she be artificially inseminated than be impregnated by the pastor or a church member. Love!!! Love !! (MH)
Another thought, we should think about what Jesus would do and seek our guidance from him. Personally, I believe Jesus would not put her down or kick her out of the church. I think we should FIRST seek to understand before we past judgment. Nonetheless, I do agree that it might not be appropriate for her to continue in her role, as it might send the wrong message to the young adults. But, please leave the judgment to GOD and let he or she that is without sin cast the first stone. (JH)
Ethical and moral boundaries??? I can't pretend to have the answer...What comes with the " increase of knowledge" that God has blessed us with? Research, technology,.... Be it artificial insemination, blood transfusion, stem cell transplant, heart transplant, etc. By the way, I haven't heard the real story. Why did she decide to do artificial insemination? Not casting a singe stone! Interesting debate! (AK)
Apart from the Pastor's duty to verify the veracity of the method of conception, this is a question of the Church's response to the larger issue of reproductive technology. The Bible is compatible with scientific advances, given that God is the source of both. Biblical ethics must be our guide. (RB)
I believe that the question of the "artificial insemination" must be answered without any doubt before we delve into the ethics around reproductive technologies. I am aware of a similar story where it turned out that the only artifice was in the explanation offered by the woman; the child was actually conceived normally and the artificial insemination story was concocted as a "panic" cover story. (RB)
Alanzo, your question boggles the mind, and I am trying to think through the boggles.
MH, I am trying to understand your comment that “It better she be artificially inseminated than be impregnated by the pastor or a church member.”
I hope you are not suggesting that the deposits of Pastors and church members are of any lesser quality than that of an anonymous donor. That would be very unkind.
On a serious note though M, the question raised is a serious one, and I have noted that quite a number of the responses, like yours, have been well considered and expressed.
On a less serious note, I do recall an unmarried deaconess at a certain church who was called before the board to explain her pregnancy. She of course was even more flabbergasted than they were, because as she confessed, she had "not known any man".
During the board's deliberation on this very complex development, it suddenly occurred to the deaconess, that she could have been inadvertently been artificially inseminated on one occasion when, because of an emergent call of nature, she had to use a male toilet at a public establishment. She conjectured that when she sat on the toilet seat, she may have inadvertently acquired a sperm deposit, which may have been transferred to a convenient conduit while she was having her bath, thus initiating the pregnancy. The mostly untutored board members, refused to buy that argument and voted to recommend to the church, that they withdraw from her, the right hand of fellowship.
The church will be facing an increasing incidence of " artificially inseminated" members, as single women increasingly reject their reproductive disenfranchisement, which has been normative.
I personally think that the church should take a stand against artificial insemination. This because it can lead to the redundancy of the male and perhaps even his extinction. Men should go on strike, and refuse to make any further deposits in any sperm bank, because by spilling their seeds to make such deposits , they sow the seeds of their own redundancy. If the current pattern continues on its current trajectory, eventually, women will simply establish semen farms, with only tall, dark, handsome , broad shouldered & small bottomed men to fill some tubes periodically with their produce. The whole concept of oneness and the practice of sexual congress could atrophy and die and the diversities to which we are accustomed would disappear.
The church in examining this fundamental issue, needs to ask itself this fundamental question “ what is the benefit, if any, of ‘artificial’ over ‘natural’ insemination. It would seem to me that someone who practices ‘artificial’ insemination', by that very act creates a psychic deficit. It does so, in the sense that it deprives the recipient of the insemination, of the pleasurable memories of conception to which she is entitled. Such memories, I warrant, are invaluable in the conditioning of the mind for parenting, and in bestowing upon the child the love and affection it deserves. God’s exquisite design, engineering, and parasympathetic conditioning of the neural features of the reproductive system is intentional. It is a memory creating vehicle. It is a talent bestowed for the creation of memories, and we must be faithful in its exercise. The rejection of the provisions by which these memories are created, in order to achieve an “artificial insemination” constitutes an affront to the creator. Such an affront should censurable. It ought not to be beyond us, Alanzo, to find a suitable way to naturally inseminate those who wish to be inseminated. (GW)
If artificial insemination is wrong because children should be brought up in a family unit, and it was the lord's intention for children to be born to married men and women. Then a single women should not adopt a child. In this sense it's just as "wrong" as Artificial insemination, don't you think? (YK)
Reproductive technologies cover a wide spectrum such as in-vitro fertilization, surrogate gestation, artificial insemination and even abortion. "Right" and "Wrong" seem somehow less than precise in describing any activity in these areas.
Given the context of a post-Eden world full of sin, what is right and what is wrong? We have children conceived in wonderful Christian families who are born with debilitating conditions that tax families to the limit. These conditions are not my God's will and do not reflect an Edenic state, yet we must love and care for the children so afflicted.
My point is that not all "naturally occurring" things are ordained by God and not all products of human imagination are evil. Our ethical analysis must go deeper than "right" or "wrong". (RB)
N.B. Please note theat these responses from my FB friends do not necessarily reflect the thinking and beliefs of The Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventist or it's Family Counselor, Alanzo Smith.
Thank you FB friends for your contributions.