Dear Waiting for Baby Bird,
How did you accept the “morality” of IVF? My husband and I recently learned that IVF is our only option for conception. If we choose not to, my one surviving ovary has to be removed with all hope of baring a child naturally gone. But we are struggling with knowing if IVF is moral in terms of the embryos being babies. They call them “embabies” and they can determine gender at this point. We are just torn and I need help understanding if this is forcing something that shouldn’t be. I feel dumb for even asking, but I’m lost. Everything I find online in regards to religion is extremely condemning of IVF, which I don’t think is accurate or fair.
Is IVF Right or Wrong
Dear Is IVF Right or Wrong,
Lawdy! 🥴 This is one of those questions I try to avoid answering. Why? In Romans Chapter 14, Paul talks about how the people in Rome are bickering back and forth about how you shouldn’t eat this type of meat or drink this type of drink. Paul then gets a tad-bit frustrated with their arguing and finally states to the crowd, “Listen, whatever you believe about these things, keep between you and God.”
So, as you can see, I like to keep my opinions, as much as possible, to myself especially, when there are no clear right or wrong answers. But since you asked, I’ll go ahead. Just give me grace if you don’t like my response.
Let me begin by saying the answer to your question isn’t black and white. Typically, we try to steer clear of actions forbidden of scripture, but sometimes scripture isn’t clear. I don’t see anything in there about IVF or embryos, and when that happens, we should then follow our conscience or the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Essentially, when God shows us personally that something is not right (or at least not right for us), we should avoid it. But at the same time, we should not look down on other Christians who exercise their freedom in those areas, just like Paul said in Romans.
After all, 6+4=10.
But so does 5+5.
In the end, the way you do things and the way I do them aren’t always going to look the same. Sally might pursue IVF, and her best friend might feel led to only use natural methods. Regardless of their way of achieving their desired outcome, both women should respect each other’s way of thinking. As well as respect their convictions and reservations. And most importantly, respect the individual paths that the Lord is personally leading them on.
Like you, when it comes to the aspects of IVF, which I have tried in the past, I struggle with what happens when an embryo is frozen. I believe that life begins at conception thus I wonder what happens to that life when it is placed in a situation where their growth and development is suspended for an undetermined period of time. Do they have a soul? If so, what happens to it? Does this mean my way of thinking suggests that I am against this method of treatment? No. Absolutely not. It just means that if I were to travel on the path of IVF again, I would seek more answers and options from doctors and, most importantly, God. He is the giver of life, and I know that He wants us to respect the sanctity of this gift. Therefore, I would find out how I can respectively travel down this path without going against my personal convictions.
For example, options that I have explored that you might be unaware of are these; there are physicians who, upon request, will only fertilize the number of embryos you hope to transfer. Also, there is the option of “snowflake adoption.” This is when you adopt an embryo that has been abandoned due to a variety of reasons, or placed for adoption because the family is no longer wanting to have more children. This option could be a great avenue for someone in your position, as it gives you the opportunity to carry life, as you also give a tiny person (because a person is a person no matter how small) a chance at life.
All in all, I know not everyone has the same thoughts and feelings regarding IVF, especially embryo freezing, which is fine. As I mentioned earlier, God speaks to us differently, and I would never look down on another person for not having the same mindset or beliefs. The convictions and reservations I have regarding specific topics could be given to me by God to keep me personally from pursuing an avenue I am not meant to pursue. But that doesn’t mean you are not meant to pursue it.
I realize that I haven’t answered your question, and that’s because I can’t. And I won’t. Ultimately, the answer you are looking for lies with the Lord. He is the One who will guide you and give you the wisdom to make the right decision for your specific situation. However, I do want to leave you with five key steps I often explore when I need guidance, and I don’t know if it is right or wrong or for me to pursue and do. I pray that they will help you make those tricky, not so black and white, decisions.
1. Don’t ever make a decision out of fear.
One of my favorite TV shows in high school was Fear Factor. It was gross when they would eat the spiders and drink the blood. It was also terrifying when they would jump from skyscrapers and be stuck in a tank filled with water while handcuffed. But do you remember the famous line spoken by the host in every episode? He would always say to the winning contestant, “Fear is not a factor for you.” And for them, it wasn’t. But how many times do we let fear be a factor for us? How many times do we let it creep in and cloud our thinking? Or persuade us to move forward or even take a step back? We let it happen a lot. Sarah, the barren woman in the book of Genesis, did this. Out of fear and desperation, she had her maidservant sleep with her husband to produce the child of promise. The only problem was it wasn’t God’s plan. Fear caused her to rush, which in turn, caused chaos that is still being dealt with in the middle east today. So, what am I saying? Don’t let fear stop you, but also don’t let fear force you ahead to move ahead. This leads me to #2.
2. Pray and then Plan
A lot of times, we plan and then pray. We get a plan about how we will do something or move forward, and then we go to God and ask Him to bless it. Friend, that is backward. We should pray, listen for God’s answer (aka…not do all of the talking) and then plan based upon where we feel He is guiding and directing. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” It’s simple, if you ask, God will give you an answer. You might be thinking, but what if He doesn’t?
First of all, God can’t lie; He will answer. But you might now say, “Okay, then. What if I don’t hear anything?” And that is understandable. Sometimes, I ask and hear crickets. But I’m learning in those situations to go back to the last thing He told me to do and stick with that, or if that is not an option, I stay put and wait, continuing to listen. I know waiting is hard, but the only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had. Sarah is another example of what happens when you plan first because nowhere in her story mentions she sought God for direction. It only says in Genesis 16:2 that she said this, “Perhaps I can build a family through her.” Notice the “I?” Don’t let it be an “I,” but a “we.” You + God = making decisions together.
Also, if you need help deciphering between what you feel led to do, seek out wise counsel from a pastor, mentor, or even myself. I would be honored to help walk you through this season of your life.
3. Not Every Door of Opportunity is a Door that We Should Walk Through
I often hear women tell me that God put doctors on earth and we should use them, and I agree entirely that we should seek the wisdom and knowledge they hold. However, certain treatment options are not best for everyone. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” I can’t tell you how many times I have used the excuse to do something simply because an opportunity came parading across my path. I would even rationalize that God must have sent this opportunity Himself. And He might have. But, it’s also important to still take a step back and evaluate a situation more closely and revert back to #2: Pray about it before you plan about it. Because can I tell you something from my heart? Be careful. The enemy isn’t always going to show up at your doorstep wearing horns, a red cape, and carrying a pitchfork. That would make him too noticeable. So, seek God. Ask Him what is best for you, not just do what has been presented to you.
4. Listen to your thoughts…listen to your gut feelings.
God will never rush you, push you, or frighten you into something. Psalms 23:2 says that He makes us lie down in green pastures, He leads us by quiet waters. 1 Corinthians 14:33 also says that He is not the author of confusion, but of peace. These scriptures remind us that God’s voice is not one that hurries or plays mind games. Instead, it will calm, encourage, reassure, and comfort us. Therefore, if you feel uneasy about something, confused or frightened in any way, it’s okay to take a step back. Just like waiting on God is hard, but wishing you had is even harder, so is moving ahead without Him. Again, if you need help deciphering between your feelings, don’t forget to seek out wise counsel.
5. Take a Step Forward
Sweet friend, if you’ve gone through all of the above steps and you are leaning towards one way but unsure, perhaps take a step forward in that direction. Like a revolving door at a grocery store or hotel, sometimes doors don’t open until you get closer to walking through them. Just keep in tune with God and your feelings. If you take that step closer and it doesn’t feel right (even if the doors seem to be opening), it’s okay to take a step back until you are ready. Remember, nothing takes God by surprise, therefore, you won’t mess up your future child’s birth date that God has already circled on His calendar. Besides, that gut feeling we mentioned in #4, could be God’s protection leading you into something else…something better.
In the end, everyone has a different path. Everyone will have different beliefs and convictions. And everyone will not agree with your decision. Whether that decision is to seek treatments, pursue natural options, or even look into adoption. And that’s okay. As long as you have sought God and He is directing your path, GO. Don’t wait. And don’t let the opinions of others cause you to ignore the commands of God.
I hope this helps. Please know that I am praying for you, asking God to give you direction, wisdom, and knowledge in this area. May your arms be filled (Psalm 113:9), and your life lacking no good thing (Psalm 84:11)
With all my love,
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