The other day a story was related to me about a local Christian woman who sold her eggs to a couple that was having fertility problems. Her eggs were fertilized by the man’s sperm and then placed into his wife’s womb; and so the baby that his wife is carrying is not her own: it’s the product of her husband’s sperm and another woman’s egg; so for all practical purposes, she’s carrying her stepchild. She will be the birth mother but she isn’t the biological mother.
Under normal circumstances this would be called “adultery;” which is a married man having sexual intercourse with a woman other than his wife, and vice versa. The penalty for this is, or should be, death (Lev. 20:10); and it matters not whether a child is conceived. But medical science now affords man the opportunity to conceive a child outside of the womb and without the need for intercourse; but in principle it’s still adultery because anytime a third party is introduced into the marital relationship it is sin; whether it be in thought or deed (Mt. 5:27-28).
Initially the couple hesitated; and fearing that the “deal” wouldn’t go through, the Christian woman went home and began to pray. A few days passed, and then she got a phone call notifying her that the couple had changed her mind and had decided to go ahead with the procedure. They did, and so now the couple has an opportunity to give birth to a child of their “own.”
But did her actions meet with God’s approval? In her mind they did because it was only after she’d starting praying that the doors began to open. The “deal” was over and done until then. Such an extreme reversal of fortunes could only have been the result of God’s hand at work; which in turn would have also implied his “stamp of approval” upon her decision, she must have thought.
Many other professing Christians would agree – seeing this as a noble gesture: the giving of a gift of a child to an infertile couple: a fine example of Christian charity and an invaluable witness. Hard to say exactly what was going through her mind ($ signs?), but I’m sure she had similar thoughts.
But despite her “answer to prayer,” what I do know is that this violates every major tenet in Scripture as it pertains to this subject. Are we to believe that this reversal of fortune that was brought about as a result of prayer also portends the will of God? She certainly does. This casual analysis would be sufficient for most, but what does the Bible teach?
When people had fertility problems in the Bible, instead of calling upon “modern medicine” they called upon God. They knew that God was the giver of life (Dt. 32:39). Examples of this include Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), Elkanah and Hannah (1 Sam. 1:1-28), and Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lu. 1:5-25). I wonder if this couple called upon God. I doubt it. Worse, they’re probably not even Christians. But thanks to science and this Christian woman, they can now enjoy the gift of a child apart from having to give any glory to God. Oh I’m sure they thanked him, but only as an afterthought.
Abraham and Sarah also sought an “egg donor;” and they found one by way of Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar. Abraham then went outside of his marriage with Sarah and fornicated with Hagar – the product of which was Ishmael; and the Jews have been fighting with him and his descendants ever since (Islam). Rest assured that God and Abraham both loved Ishmael. But at the same time, Isaac was born as a result of the promises of God while Ishmael was conceived as a work of the flesh. God never told Abraham to take a second wife and Scripture makes it clear that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and so when Abraham slept with Hagar he was sinning.
Interestingly enough, though, it was Sarah who concocted the entire scheme (Gen. 16:1-6); and for whatever reason(s), Abraham seemed all too willing to oblige (reminds me of Adam) when what he should have done was to reprove Sarah and then remind her of God’s promises. But he didn’t and this one act of sin has caused the Jews – and now the rest of the world – centuries of grief.
But Sarah earnestly believed that she was fulfilling the will of God. God had told her that one day she’d give birth to a child of her own; but she also must have wondered how a post-menopausal woman and a woman who had never given birth give birth to a child at such an advanced age (she was 75 when she “gave” Hagar to Abraham and 90 when she gave birth to Isaac). In this regard, then, Sarah was “doubly barren.” She’d never given birth and was no longer ovulating, and so she had no reason to believe that she’d ever have a child of her own. So when God said that she would, she could only laugh (Gen. 18:9-15). Abraham did too (Gen. 17:15-17). But by suggesting to her husband that he conceive with Hagar and then they adopt the child as their own, she saw a way to fulfill the promises of God. Abraham would have his male heir and she’d in turn provide a way for God to save face because, after all, he had no understanding of menopause! Or so she thought.
But how did it all work out?
Hagar gives birth to Ishmael and Sarah quickly grew to despise them both. She was jealous of Hagar and Hagar in return mocked her mistress. This invariably led Sarah to also despise the youth (cp. Gen. 16:4-5; 21:9-10). It wasn’t her own, after all; and this is the same problem that the couple in our story may have to face. All of the danger signs are there.
Eventually Hagar and Ishmael were cast out (Gen. 21:11-21); and as previously mentioned, the Jews and now the rest of the world have been fighting with them and their descendants ever since; and this was all the result of one man’s sin: the result of allowing a third party to interfere with the marital relationship in a manner that contradicts Scripture. Sin separates – it doesn’t draw closer.
Thus, marriage is, and has always been, between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:3-9); or, that’s the way it’s supposed to have been. Only in the case of death or biblical grounds for divorce is having more than one spouse justified. So this means that all those who had multiple wives in the Bible were sinning – including, but not limited to, Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.
In essence then, being an egg or sperm donor is nothing more than a sanitized form of adultery: it’s a high-tech form of slavery – or, “human trafficking,” if you prefer the more politically correct term – whereby a woman’s eggs have been reduced to a cheap commodity to be sold for profit to the highest bidder. These eggs were meant for her and her husband and no one else: so now someone else is raising the child that she was meant to have. She’s robbing herself and her husband of their inherent right to propagate their own children so that others can do it instead, and the reason why they’re doing it is for money – all hidden behind some misguided notion of “Christian charity” and the “love of God.” If they really believed that, why did they accept payment? This would make her some kind of whore, wouldn’t it? Evidently her husband doesn’t mind; Abraham didn’t mind it either (at least initially). Selah.
Unfortunately there were no mature Christians around to counsel her otherwise. Maybe there were but she chose to ignore them. I don’t know. But what I do know is that she didn’t get a Word from God because the Word completely contradicts her testimony.
What happens if the wife’s body rejects the fertilized egg because it sees it as a foreign object? Could it now be construed as murder because the fertilized egg, a person, has purposely been placed into an environment of which it wasn’t intended? As in purposely having been placed in harms’ way? What happens if the Christian woman begins to wonder what became of the child? She is, after all, the biological mother. What happens if her own children find out and begin to ask questions? How will she explain their half-brothers and/or sisters to them? What will she do if her husband becomes jealous, etc.? Then again, they’ve already made thousands and so it may not matter – there’s too much money to be made, you know. I wonder if they tithed off of that!
But as odd or as contradictory as it may seem, I have nothing but compassion for this young woman because I know that she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into – at least that’s what I like to think. She doesn’t need to be belittled or scorned, but she does need to be corrected (her husband too!). I can love and appreciate her as a child of God, but under no circumstances will I condone her sin.
But this story provides us with a good reason as to why we’re commanded to prove all things (1 Thess. 5:21); but this can only be done if there’s some standard by which to measure. In our case it’s the patterns, principles, and doctrines found in the Bible. Unfortunately, Christians are frequently taught that doctrine doesn’t matter while the major patterns and principles in the Bible are largely ignored. But the pattern in Scripture is clear; anytime you add a third party into the marital relationship it is sin: whether in thought or in deed (Mt. 5:27-28): anything else is a lie and a self-deception – a willingness to purposely ignore the Truth. So this Christian woman is at least ignorant if not spiritually deceived – deceived by her own definition of what “Christian charity” is.
So just because someone’s “prayed about it” doesn’t mean that they’ve heard from God or that he’s placed his stamp of approval upon their actions. Clearly, this Christian woman didn’t hear from God although she probably believes that she did; and the reason why is because her actions – despite any pragmatic or emotional appeals – totally contradict the Word of God. May we pray that we no longer do that which is right in our own eyes…Selah.