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Herman C. Hanko is professor of Church History and New Testament in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

In our last article we were discussing what others have to say about artificial insemination by husbands (AIH) and artificial insemination by donors (AID). We consider it important to quote extensively from other writers to demonstrate: 1) that the problem is so acute as to require elaborate treatment by many ethicists; 2) that, while there is some disagreement of opinion on these issues, evangelical scholars who condemn such practices are in the majority.

Some additional arguments have been raised which we can briefly mention. We have acquired these from the Spring, 1986 issue of the Calvary Baptist Theological Journal.

Jay E. Adams is quoted in this article as opposing artificial insemination whether AIH or AID on the grounds that it involves masturbation, the possibility of adultery, the great temptation put to those involved and the doubts regarding the rightness of the process.

The article also raises some practical problems. These problems are first of all social.

Among the social problems caused by AID are marital problems, children who are born into single parent relationships, human eugenic programs, doctors who are not thoroughly trained in ethics, incest in ignorance, legal problems and the need for laws, and surrogate mothering and test-tube babies.

Marital problems which may arise include the psychological effects upon a ‘husband who views the need to resort to AID as a blow to his manhood. “The man may feel that he is living a lie when he accepts congratulations on his wife’s pregnancy. Because the procedure is kept secret, there is an illicit aura about it and it reinforces feelings of guilt. Even the AID mother may struggle with feelings of guilt and fear because of efforts to conceal the fact to friends, relatives and the child.”

Each of these is elaborately dealt with in the article. But of special interest is the matter of incest in ignorance. The article states:

The practice of keeping the sperm donors anonymous increases the possibility of accidental incest. English doctors at one time limited the semen donations of a man so that he would not father more than 100 children. The average sperm-bank donor in the United States is used for up to six pregnancies and some for as many as fifty pregnancies. The possibility for inbreeding between half brothers and half sisters later in life is great, especially where the communities are smaller.

Legal problems are many. The article quotes J. Kerby Anderson:

There are three important reasons why a child conceived through AID must legally be declared the child of the couple. First, there must be certainty of child support in the event of desertion or divorce. Second, there must be clear lines of legal inheritance. Third, there must be legal precedents to establish that AID does not constitute adultery. In occasional cases, courts have ruled that AID constituted sufficient grounds for divorce due to adultery (Genetic Engineering, p. 31).

The Biblical arguments against AID are the same as those against surrogate motherhood, for which see our last article in The Standard Bearer.

We come now to a discussion of our own opinions concerning these various methods which have been invented by science to bring children into childless homes.

It is important that our readers understand our great sympathy for those who have been deprived by the Lord of having children. We discussed this at some length in an earlier article and need not repeat here what we have already said. But, while understanding and sympathizing with the agony of childless couples, we nevertheless need to affirm that God is sovereign also in giving and withholding children, and in His dealings He is always wise; and to His people He is always good. He knows not only to whom to give children and from whom to withhold them; He also knows how many children to give to each family. This has been determined eternally, and God’s determinations are always in the light of His whole counsel and plan. He knows the beginning from the end and does all things that His purpose may be accomplished. Sometimes saints have to rest in this, knowing that the will of the Lord must become their will.

This does not preclude the use of medical help when various organic difficulties make childbearing difficult. But when all medical help has been exhausted, a child of God must submit to the ways of Jehovah Who does all things well.

It has also been sometimes argued that because medical science is given also for the benefits of the child of God, whatever medical science is capable of doing is for the child of God. This is often coupled with the argument that God originally commanded man to subdue the earth. These various techniques which have been invented to bring children into childless homes are part of subduing the earth, and therefore good. Thus, without further argument, if science has invented methods of giving children to childless couples, this is prima facie legitimate. We reject such argumentation. While in some instances this is certainly true—as, e.g., in the cure of various diseases—science is basically anti-God. Man has chosen to rule the universe which is put under him so that he can use it and all its powers to engage in sin and rebellion. While the creation itself is good (though under the curse) and while its powers are for the service of man, it does not take much thought to see that man uses these powers repeatedly in the service of sin. One need only think of how television is used in the propagation of the lie and of how the great gift of music is used to spread every sexual perversion. Because science has succeeded in developing techniques which can abort a fetus without physical harm to the mother (we cannot say, without great psychological harm), this does not mean that the Christian may make use of such techniques.

With many of the arguments advanced against surrogate motherhood and artificial insemination we agree. We need not repeat them here; we want only to call attention to a couple of these arguments which, in our judgment, are particularly persuasive.

While recognizing that many practical problems arise from these techniques and while assuring our readers that these practical problems are by no means insignificant, we are here more interested in, principle objections.

The first of these deals with the intrusion into the marriage bond of a third (or even fourth) party. And along with this, we need to say something about artificial means of conception and birth.

God has created the family as part of His creation ordinance. The family is a reflection of the covenant life which God lives within His own triune being. God, if I may put it that way, is a family God. The human family is patterned after this as a reflection of God’s covenant life which He lives in Himself. While man has, through sin, terribly perverted these relationships, they are restored in Christ for the elect, and once again, redeemed families are covenant families, reflecting the relation between God and His people in Christ. This, to our mind, is fundamental. It is of some disappointment to us that all the articles and books we have read on this subject make no mention of Gods covenant. A covenantal approach seems to us to be of critical importance.

A covenant family consists of a husband and wife united by God in holy marriage. The two of them together constitute a unity, a whole so complete that they are together one flesh. In this respect they reflect the relation between God and His church through Christ. Marriage is a great mystery, Paul says, but “I speak concerning Christ and the church.” In this relationship there is no room for a third party. If a third party is brought in, the relationship is violated and corrupted. If a third party would be brought into the covenant relation between God and His people, this would also be a violation and corruption of the covenant. God cannot and will not love someone other than His elect bride, the church. So also the introduction of a third party into the marriage relation is a violation and corruption of it. Surrogate motherhood and AID do this. These techniques do this mechanically and artificially, but they do this none the less. A third party is introduced into the marriage, and no line of argumentation can possibly gainsay this. This is a corruption of this most holy of all bonds and an impermissible violation of it.

Within that covenant family are normally born children who become a part of it. In fact, our Marriage Form proceeds from the assumption that marriage has as one of its purposes the bringing forth of children. Several times children are mentioned in the form, and the mention of them is always put in such a way that it is but normal that children result from marriage. The point here is that, unless God Himself withholds children from parents, children are a normal and natural part of the covenant family. That is, they are a normal and natural part of that exclusive bond which exists between husband and wife.

God has ordained that husband and wife, through marriage, become one flesh. As Paul points out, this is a great mystery; and the wonder of becoming one flesh is past definition. As the relation between Christ and His church is a mystical union, so is the union of husband and wife. Only a little can be said about this in the feebleness of our understanding. Surely husband and wife become one flesh in the deepest and highest sense of the word when they are together one in Christ, when Christ is their Head before Whom they both bow. As one in Christ they become one in mind and will, for their minds and wills, both separate, nevertheless become in the deepest spiritual sense of the word, the mind and will of Christ. But they become one flesh also in their life together, and especially in their love for each other. Their life and love are the life and love of Christ their Head, to Whom they both belong.

God has wonderfully ordained that this unity of life and love is expressed in sexual intercourse. Together they become one flesh in this act, an act also, though degraded to unbelievable extremes by wicked men, which is a picture of the mystical relation between Christ and His elect bride. It is a unity of love because it is an expression of their mutual love for each other in the Lord. It is a unity of life because they join themselves by this act in giving life to children who become a part of the covenant family. When one thinks about it, it is in children especially that husband and wife become one flesh, for children are the flesh of father and mother. How beautiful and wondrous are the ways of God.

If this is only understood properly, one can also understand that any intrusion of a third party into this sacred relationship is a horrible desecration of it. Any form of surrogate motherhood as well as any form of AID can only disrupt this relationship, demean it, corrupt it, break the unity of one flesh that God has ordained. Even AIH—artificial insemination by husband—is a mechanical intrusion into this sacred relationship. The act of childbearing is divorced from the act of love in intercourse. In animal husbandry surrogate parenthood, artificial insemination and other techniques to improve the quality of a herd are readily used. We are not animals, but rational moral creatures, and to reduce men to animals is to deny their place in the creation.

This emphasis on the covenant character of the home brings another point up which needs strongly to be emphasized. God is pleased, according to the provisions of His covenant, to save His people in the lines of continued generations. Believing fathers and believing mothers bring forth children in the confident hope that these children, because they are born from believers, are included into the everlasting covenant of grace. These children are not saved simply by virtue of the fact that the parents are believers, of course; they are saved by virtue of God’s determination to save His church in the line of generations and include children of believers in His covenant. Hence covenant parents see their children as a heritage of the Lord and as olive branches round about their tables.

If one understands this, then surrogate motherhood and AID are a violation of covenant principles. Children born in this way are born, not from believing parents (in the case of at least one parent) but are born through artificial techniques which fly in the face of covenantal truths and mutilate God’s covenant beyond recognition. The curses which Scripture says will come upon those who trample under foot for His covenant will come upon those who will not recognize this simple truth.