Question Submitted: I was raised LCMS and have three amazing children, not from IVF or anything, but I have so many friends I have supported through that journey and I was recently struck by a forum where I have LCMS friends in and they started telling a woman that IVF was sinful and some really awful, unchristian things, and I felt very ashamed to be Lutheran in that moment. Now, I can see the destroying embryos and blah blah blah that people get off on and the “frozen kids with no rights.” But, my friends have done IVF in a way that they, and I, believe is God pleasing. They do a cycle a time, only harvest one egg that they make naturally, inseminate it, and put it in, regardless, no testing or anything, it is placed back in the mother’s womb and up to God. Is this such an awful thing? Why would God call physicians to help some of the most brokenhearted people if he didn’t think it was ok? It made my heart heavy tonight for those women and so ashamed of my LCMS sisters. So unforgiving and judgmental.
God calls doctors to diagnose and treat illnesses, not to risk the lives of innocent children for the sake of their parents’ happiness.
For, that is what IVF is. It is a self-serving, child-risking procedure. It creates children apart from the marriage bed – apart from God’s Biblical plan for procreation – not to serve, guard, protect, and save the lives of the children created, but to serve the desires of the parents.
Whether or not children are discarded, frozen, or selectively terminated during the procedure of IVF, parents who attempt to create and implant even one child at a time are still risking someone else’s life for their own happiness. I would be wary of calling this God-pleasing, for nowhere in Scripture does God tell us that we are to risk the lives of our children in order to serve our own needs and desires. Neither does Holy Writ invite us to think that God’s good will for our lives is for us to be happy. Instead, God’s Word reveals that His good will for our lives is for us to be saved through His Son, Christ Jesus, and for us to be faithfully content in what He provides for us.
As a woman who has not been blessed with the gift of children, I know from personal experience that broken-heartedness of which you speak. It is a dark, lonely, terrifying thing to look a life of childlessness in the face, and it is very tempting in that darkness to do whatever it takes to get a child. I am thankful your friends have such a supportive advocate in you, someone who encourages them and defends them in their suffering. However, please do not let your compassion for their childlessness move you to promote IVF in any form.
Remember, for whatever reason, God in His wisdom has not given your friends the gift of children through the one-flesh union, and attempting implantation of any number of children in a barren womb is statistically going to fail up to 70.6% of the time. (Just to be clear, that failure means the death of whole, already created, living children.) Advocating for IVF is more than just rooting for the 29.4% hope that your friends will be parents; it is also, by default, rooting for the larger, sadder statistic that children will be created simply to die.
If your friends still have a burning desire to be parents, why not encourage them to adopt? Not only is adoption a Biblically supported means of parentage, but it also serves the lives, needs, and desires of both the children and the parents. This, I believe, we can say with confidence is God-pleasing.