The command given to man was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 2:28). When looking at the role religion plays or has played in surrogate motherhood, we tend to look at the story of Abraham and Sarah. The moral and ethical issue surrounding the scenario was Sarah arranging for Abraham and Hagar to have them a child. It was the practice of her native country where there was no hope in bearing children for the spouse to give her maid to provide an heir for the family. This was one of the legal codes of Mesopotamia. Precisely the wife determined the rights of the offspring.
God did not condone the practice of surrogacy. Abraham was accused of following in the footsteps of Adam. They allowed their spouses to lead them astray instead of trusting and obeying. The outcome was suffering and disappointment. Scriptures also tells us that their imagined blessing proved to be a curse. Domestically there was a lot of tension, heartache, and hatred between the women.
The situation of the Egyptian maid could very well be mirrored today. Being a surrogate gave Hagar an elitist feeling and she became pompous and proud. Hagar would not consent to the plan to turn her child over to the mistress. Her question was, why should her child be passed off as the wife’s son? She had second thoughts and this still happens today. Biblically the very bitter dissension between the offspring’s of Sarah and Hagar is so intense until the repercussions are felt in the modern world today. Sarah’s descendants, the Jews, and Hagar’s descendants, the Arabs, are still contending for the possession of the Holy Land.
Considering all of the pain and heartache associated with surrogacy in the Bible the scenarios emphatically point out man choosing to be selfish. They made laws for self-aggrandizement. Some feel that the inability to conceive is a result of past sin and they are being punished.
It is the belief of many Christians that God has given man the freedom of choice. It is a common belief that the use of technology is a personal decision between a couple and God. Christians agree that a stable and supportive family benefits the child. This will limit the assisted reproductive technology to married couples only where one or both partners are unable to either produce eggs or sperm, or carry a pregnancy. This supports the principle that God is the moral Arbiter of the world who differentiates with absolute exactness, the moral from the immoral, and is also a loving and compassionate God.
In vitro fertilization can bring about the ethical issue of being able to pass on social and spiritual heritage to the offspring if the genetic make-mp cannot be passed. Another issue to be considered is the number of ova that are fertilized with in vitro fertilization. Discarding the unused embryos does not follow Biblical principles. The availability of cryo-preservation or freezing is available to bring about some relief of this problem. This procedure can allow the couple to have more children in the future. Biblically, life starts at conception and all stages of development are important. In using the current technologies including in vitro fertilization there are chances of multiple births. In the case of multiple fetuses, severe prematurity and non–survival of babies may occur. A solution to this problem may be selective termination of embryos in utero. This can raise moral issues. Is it right to intentionally take the life of a fetus to spare one or others? Should the pregnancy continue and possibly risk the survival of all the babies?
Another issue that should be considered in sperm or egg donations are the feelings of surrogate. How does the husband or wife feel about a third party being involved in the conception of their child? Is their privacy being invoked? When, if ever, will the recipient parent tell the child about the manner of his or her conception? Technology is expensive and certainly in the manner in which the couple will use their finances, both of them should be in agreement. Christians believe that God has given them the responsibility of being stewards. Therefore, how and for what money is spent is very important. Man’s knowledge is a gift and a blessing when used in the proper manner.
Adventist Protestants believe that medical technology has enhanced human procreation through such procedures as in vitro fertilization, (AI) artificial insemination, cloning and yes, surrogacy embryo transfer. In seeking to do God’s will, these options have raised serious ethical questions.
Christians agree that being barren (childless) weighs heavily upon couples, as we saw in the Abraham and Sarah scenario. Many are sad because of infertility and turn to reproductive technology for assistance. The question they ponder is when should assistance be used or if it should be used at all. This becomes a mind-boggling issue.
Adventists believe that God is concerned with all dimensions of human life and his principles should be followed. God gives the power to procreate. This gift should be used to glorify God. It is believed that:
1. Procreation is God’s plan (Gen. 1:28); children are blessing from God, (Ps. 127:3, 113:9) medical technologies that aid infertility that does not venture from biblical principles are acceptable in good conscience.
2. All developmental stages of life should be respected (Gen. 1:5, Ps. 139:13-16)
3. The decision to use medical technology is a personal matter. There are acceptable reasons and forms of Christian service that may limit or refrain procreation (1 Cor. 7:32,33)
4. Due to cost, Christian stewardship is a relative factor (Prov. 3:9)
As Christians apply these principles to their decision-making they can be confident that the Holy Spirit will be there to assist them. Infertile couples should always keep the door ajar, so if necessary they can fall back on adoption as an alternative. I am aware however, that there are some that do not exactly follow these beliefs. They may choose other logic to arrive at their desired goals. I am not saying that this is wrong, only let your research and conscience be your guide.