Am I Disobeying God?

Judge Shaking FingerQuestion Submitted: I read your posts on to adopt or not to adopt and fake laws. My husband and I are barren but have so far decided not to pursue adoption or doctoring. We are usually content in the callings God has given us in which we serve other people’s children. In spite of this, I sometimes have a gnawing fear that we are disobeying God by not pursuing the good work of parenting. Perhaps God wants to use the adoption agencies or medical doctors to make us parents and we aren’t letting that happen. We are sinners so all our decisions are tainted by sin. Is it really true that “you must try to adopt or seek ethical medical help,” is a fake law?

God does instruct us in His Word to care specifically for the needs of widows and orphans (James 1:27), but that instruction is for all of the Church, not just for the barren.

Still, it is often the consciences of the barren which are burdened by this instruction, so let me take a shot at defining some of the fear and tension you might personally be feeling surrounding the question of whether or not to adopt: You know from God’s Word that He wills for us in marriage to be fruitful and to multiply (Genesis 1:27-8). You know that children are the blessed fruit of the one-flesh union between a husband and wife (Psalm 127:3). And, you also know that, for whatever reason, you and your husband have been unable to conceive and bring a child to full health and vitality outside of the womb. So, what now? Is having children a law from God you must obey? Are you obligated to find an alternative method of having and raising children? Do you need to adopt a child to please God?


Adoption is not intrinsic in God’s design of procreation. Adoption is a matter of free will. When a husband and wife are unable to conceive in the one-flesh union, God does not require them by law to adopt children into their family. We know that, in Christ, we are to serve and care for orphans, but adoption is not the only way to care for their needs. In other words, we do not necessarily need to adopt an orphan in order to serve him. There are many ways to serve, even mother, orphans without signing legal paperwork in front of a judge. We can faithfully pray for these children; we can raise awareness and money to help fund their adoptions; we can give clothes, food, and shelter to those who have none; we can serve as foster parents to children waiting to be matched with their forever families; we can be active supporters in the lives of the families in our congregation and community who have already adopted; we can encourage parents to rescue their children currently frozen in fertility clinics; we can lobby for the rights of these children in the political arena; and the list goes on and on. Think about your specific talents and gifts. How can you use those gifts to serve your neighbor?

Adoption is a good thing. The reality is that there are plenty of children who need parents to love them and bring them up in the Faith. Yet, not everyone is called to be parents through adoption, just as not everyone is called to be parents through conception. If you and your husband come to the conclusion that adoption is not the right path for your family, then commend your fear and guilt to Christ’s mercy and pray that God would provide parents for all children in need. Then, go out and serve your neighbor in all peace, joy, and in the full knowledge that Christ has perfectly served you on the cross.

In regards to whether or not to seek more medical attention for your barrenness, you are not required by any law of God to undergo medical treatments in order to conceive a child, and there is no sin in being content with the quiver God has given you today.