I wonder if you felt as overwhelmed as I did when I read these chapters? So many choices! It seems like the idea of choice is exactly the opposite problem to what most couples with infertility face. Most people see the choice as married couples either having children or not, and infertility takes that decision away from them.
If your reaction to reading of these treatment options turns immediately to the rights and wrongs, then it is worth going back to the start of the book to ensure you’ve been reading all the personal stories. My own thoughts go immediately to those people facing this. Consider for a moment, the pressures that these events necessitate. On top of the grief of dashed dreams, there is the burden of potential options and outcomes, of what is godly, and almost inevitably at every point clashing with the strongly held views of others.
For most “normal” couples, the decision to have children is private, personal and secret. To be in the realm of discussing treatment options is to already have involved other parties in what is normally hidden. Talking with health professions about the mechanics of making babies and sperm and egg production, is a far cry from a romantic dinner, candles and a Barry White album.
We must also be thankful for fertility intervention. It is a great mercy of God that advances in medical science have enabled a way forward from infertility, enabling many couples to have children. And at one level, the idea of fertility treatment is in the same boat as any other medical intervention, and no one generally tries to convince you from going to the doctor to get your heart medication. However, it’s not as simple as that, is it? We’re dealing with the creation of life, so we need to ask some bigger questions.
However, whilst these issues need to be discussed, it is worth approaching infertility treatment with a certain level of humility. Godly Christians who think through these issues arrive at a wide range of views as to what treatment is or isn’t appropriate.
And so just like in the book, I’m not going to condone any particular form of treatment, but rather point out to you the importance of thinking through the ethical issues that are part and parcel of assisted reproduction. To get you started, two big questions are posed in the book (p136-7), which I think are a great starting point.
But ultimately our position must be, ‘Children to the glory of God’. And though the health professions are on our side and desperately want us to have a family, they operate by the motto, ‘Children at any cost’ (often quite literally). And as Christians, we begin our questioning by recognising we may end up going down paths that seriously decrease our chances of pregnancy, and yet which we are convinced are godly approaches.
Perhaps the most helpful advice – though for many it is too late – is to think about all of these issues before you’re faced with it. The desperation of infertility is not necessarily the place where we are most level-headed on these matters.
Finally, a word on adoption. Although not a treatment per se, adoption is another option for those facing infertility. It is helpful to know that despite all the news coverage of adoption lately, it can paint a misleading picture of what the scene is like in Australia. There is not a situation like in some countries where there are thousands of children waiting to be adopted. Adoption is a long, difficult process in this country, without any guarantee of success.
And yet it is entirely appropriate for Christians to consider adoption. For amongst all we have covered thus far, it is perhaps the only aspect of infertility that is common to all Christians. Adoption is precious to us, as we have all been adopted into God’s family, providing us with a glorious model of abundant love poured out on another.