I am an advocate of healing medicine, both traditional and nontraditional.
I daily take prescription medication to keep my already overactive pancreas from kicking out more insulin into my bloodstream. I then supplement my medication with lots of exercise and a low-glucose diet.
My most recent venture into healing medicine involved a short round of hormone therapy to help my doctor properly diagnose several masses that were growing in my abdomen. I then underwent surgery to remove a batch of endometriomas and accompanying scar tissue from around my colon, bladder, and ovaries. Next, came a six-month regimen of Lupron shots to kill off the residual scar tissue my doctor had to leave behind, and, on top of that, I now eat a mostly pescetarian (vegan with fish) diet on top of my low-glucose fare to avoid environmental hormones, additives, preservatives, gluten, and nutrients which may cause inflammation in my body.
In other words, I prefer my medical cocktail as follows: one part traditional, two parts nontraditional, shaken with ice, and then straight down the hatch.
Why am I over-sharing all of this with you? I want to make it clear that I am a champion of healing medicine. I believe it is part of the daily bread God provides for us and that it is good and right to try to make the body whole. I believe that we are free in Christ to take medicine and to undergo diagnostic tests and to have surgeries and to train for triathlons and to sit for acupuncture treatments and to avoid dairy (Oh, wretched cross that I bear!) and to drink liquified kale for the healing purposes of our flesh.
Like the Apostle Paul, I believe that my freedom in Christ, whether applied to medicine or to circumcision or to meat-eating or to whatever, is intended by God to serve my neighbor, not myself.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (ESV)
We are totally free in Christ to seek healing medicine in our barrenness, but that freedom is still intended to serve our neighbor, even the little neighbor we hope to conceive in our womb. For this reason, I do not consider in vitro fertilization (IVF) to be healing medicine, nor do I consider it to rest safely within the realm of Christian freedom.
IVF does not simply seek to make the body whole, but it seeks to create children for our own purpose and use, whether that be cherishing, rejecting, discarding, freezing, or even killing. This is not using our Christian freedom to serve our neighbor. It is using our freedom to serve ourselves at the expense of our neighbor.
Let me draw a clear picture for you. When children are created in a petri dish during IVF, those children have no rights of their own. They, at the whim of the parent*, can be:
- graded by appearance for their viability,
- genetically tested for their sex, chromosomal abnormalities, and diseases,
- discarded (in some cases, literally flushed down the drain) for their potential flaws,
- put on ice to be stored, used, adopted, donated, tested, or killed at the parent’s leisure,
- inserted into potentially inhospitable conditions in utero,
- and, if part of a multiple pregnancy, selectively terminated and sacrificed for the vitality of a perceived stronger brother or sister in the womb.
IVF does not serve these children (our neighbors!) through love, but, at best, disrespects the personhood of the children created, and, at worst, serves as the concentration camp of the fertility industry.
Please be certain, it is the procedures surrounding IVF, not the children that result, that I am calling into question. As I wrote in my book, “Whatever sin and controversies may surround IVF, the children that are conceived and born to us through such procedures are still a heritage from the Lord. These children do not cease to be blessings and gifts from God simply because of the method by which they were conceived. We are not to think of these children as anything less than human beings who are wanted and cherished by our Lord. God’s love is what makes any and every child valuable in this life, not the means of parentage. Whatever decisions and actions parents may regret, the children that result from such decisions and actions are to be celebrated as the precious treasures that they are.” (He Remembers the Barren, 44-5)
Dear sisters, you may have already made use of IVF thinking that it was healing medicine. You may feel confused, angry, even guilty, right now. Do not despair! Your help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8) Christ, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19-20a ESV) Confess your regrets to your pastor to receive the peace of absolution, and let it be done to you as you believe.
* A frozen child’s right to life can also be at the whim of a government or a divorce court judge.