By: Paul Murano – June, 2019
We all know the reasons and motives couples seek procreative technologies when fertility seems to fail. But despite the good intentions, is it moral? Let us go beneath the surface to look at this question from various angles. The following are short elaborations: 3 moral underlying principles, 3 things that make it morally problematic, 3 related thoughts, and then 3 reasons why the conclusion is difficult for many to accept.
Three important underlying principles:
a) A child is a gift, not a right. Gifts are not to be coveted nor grasped in a way that one is willing to employ any means to attain them. Further, a child is a person to be loved, not an object to be demanded. All persons, including our children, are primarily God’s, not ours.
b) The marital act may be assisted by technology, but never replaced. Persons are meant to be “begotten, not made” – that is begotten of the act of love-union. Every child has a right to be conceived of the act of love and raised by a family who accepts them from the hand of God.
c) The unitive and procreative ends of sexual love must never be separated intentionally. Doing violates the natural moral law. This inseparability principle renders acts intrinsically immoral that seek union while impeding procreation (as in contraception) and seek procreation without union (as in in-vitro fertilization). The flow of life between lover and beloved must never be impeded or perverted to the natural end of ‘the two becoming one flesh’ (Gen 2:24).
Three things that make In-vitro fertilization morally problematic:
1) Human embryos are created and destroyed in the in-vitro process. In order that one embryo might be successfully implanted into a woman, several are usually killed and discarded, or are left in suspended animation cryogenically. Countless thousands of human beings in their embryonic stage of life are now frozen indefinitely within cryogenic freezers around the country.
2) Humans are made in God’s image and are meant to begotten of the act of love-union, not made or manufactured through the tools of a third party clinician in a Petri dish. In-vitro fertilization also bypasses the natural selection process of sperm cells by the female reproductive tract.
3) Children of in-vitro fertilization tend to feel as if they are “products of conception,” a phrase commonly used by abortion advocates to depersonalize human beings.
Three related thoughts:
x) Eve violated principle #a above when she grasped at an apparent good after being warned by God. She rationalized it as being “good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gn 3:6). Her own limited judgment of the desired object overrode God’s command and the truth of her own nature.
y) It is possible for God to create great good out of moral evil, as He has done throughout history. One could say God writes history with the crooked lines we give Him. In-vitro fertilization is an example of this. Children conceived through in-vitro fertilization are as good, dignified, equal, and loved by God as any other. However, as St. Paul clearly warns us, one may never do an evil so that good might come out of it (Rom 3:8).
z) The inseparability principle (#c above) is one of the most important, yet difficult, moral principles for people to apprehend. This is for three reasons:
i) Its truth and beauty are difficult for many human intellects to grasp without assistance.
ii) Impeding or creating human life by replacing the marital act are often accompanied by strong self-centered motives.iii) We have been conditioned by a society that claims we have
a right to do what we want with our bodies, even if attempting to usurp God’s sovereign authority. Sin, which is very real and very deadly, is ignored.
Paul Murano teaches college philosophy and theology and is the talk host of ‘Beneath the Surface’ radio show and podcast. Check out Paul’s website at Paulmurano.com, and email him at PJDM@aol.com.