Surrogacy and the Christian Response

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Anything that brings a new child into this word and is not condemned by God is morally accepted, ethical and correct. God is love – that single phrase expresses the sense of Christianity and the moral-ethnical basis of our civilization.

However, there have always been and there will be people who allege to be ‘the only ones to interpret the Bible correctly’. Unfortunately, they tend to dictate their personal (and not always right) opinion to believers and undermine their positive attitude to surrogacy. By claiming to be ‘great preachers’ and ‘biblical experts’, have they at least read the sacred book they are talking so much about?

Well, then they could probably go back to its certain parts, that is, the Old Testament, the major sacred book of the Jews, Christians and Mahometans. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was infertile and she asked an Egyptian maid Hagar to bear Abraham’s child. She gave birth to a son called Ishmael. Sarah admitted him into her family as if it were a child of her own. Well, basically, that was the first surrogate baby in history. By the way, Ishmael’s offspring is believed to be the Arabs who are sometimes called the Hagarenes or the Ismailites.

Here is what the Bible says (Genesis, 16):

1Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
5And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
6But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
8And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
9And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
14Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

Bilhah, Rachel’s, Jacob’s second infertile wife, maid, became the second surrogate mother by bearing sons Dan and Naphtali to Jacob. Zilpah, Jacob’s first wife Leah’s maid, became the third surrogate mother. She bore 4 sons to Jacob and then became temporarily barren. Zilpah gave Jacob 2 sons: Gad and Asher. After that, Leah became fertile and bore another two sons (Issachar and Zebulun) and a daughter Dinah to Jacob. 

Here is what the Bible says (Genesis, 30):

1And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
2And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
3And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees that I may also have children by her.
4And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
5And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
6And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
7And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.
8And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
9When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
10And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.
11And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.
12And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son.
13And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
14And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.
15And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes.
16And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
17And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
18And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
19And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
20And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.
21And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
22And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

The holy book tells us about the so-called traditional type of surrogacy when due to poor reproductive technologies the surrogate mother was artificially inseminated and thus acted as a donor and surrogate mother at the same time. From the legal point of view, however, those boys were recognized as biblical prophets’ and their spouses’ own children.

Traditional surrogacy in which the surrogate mother acts as the biological mother of the baby is quite common in surrogacy-friendly countries even nowadays. Even the severe Old Testament God did not condemn such cases, if biblical prophets themselves asked surrogate mothers to help them in reproducing an offspring, why listen to all those people claiming that God did not condone the practice of surrogacy?

Some of these biblical experts feel that the inability to conceive is a result of past sin and that is why infertile people are being punished and they should bear their cross. However, if it were the case, would people be able to treat severe illnesses nowadays and conceive vaccines to contain dangerous viruses? Would God allow us to find a way to treat infertility then?

God likes happy and healthy people surrounded by children and able to value the world around them. These are not macabre religious fans that appeal to Him. Be fruitful and multiply because that is what God wishes.

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