IVF – And the Image of God

Why would I write on In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and the image of God. The bible teaches that mankind are made in the image of God.  In Genesis 1:27 it says, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God created them, both male and female in His Image.  In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”  The bible teaches that there is only one true God.  Here the one true God describes Himself with plural pronouns.  This is an early reference to the truth that is contained in the Bible, that in the One true God are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.   In Genesis 3:28 it says, after God created them, male and female in His Image,  that “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.”  Genesis chapter 2 gives further description of God’s creation of mankind saying,

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24)

Putting this together, we are given a glimpse into God and find that in the one God there is relationship between His three persons.  Mankind, who God created, were created male and female.  Women was made from man and was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  It is for this reason that the two are to marry and become one flesh (or be sexually united).  The oneness of husband and wife is expressed through sexual union.  Within the oneness of this relationship, there is a reflection of God.  They are to be fruitful and multiply.  God creates.  They procreate.   This, also, reflects something of God.  They, male and female, are created in God’s Image. In my blog entry, IVF- More Than Husband, Wife and God, I compare the normative process of procreation, as is has been from the beginning, to the new process of reproduction through IVF. I ask the question,

To what extent is the image of God, that is created into normative procreation, obscured in the process of IVF?

I point out that in IVF

it is no longer a husband cleaving to his wife and the two, as one flesh, procreating a child, as directed by God. Instead, rather than leaving the creation of their child under the control of God, another person is selected to take control. The other person comes between the husband and the wife and directs things.

IVF, through its separation of the one flesh relationship, diminishes the one flesh image of God that Husband and wife in sexual union are created to have. I started to think about he impact of IVF on the image of God when reflecting on a statement Dr James Grier made about IVF saying,

Any reproductive technology that produces the image of God with the use of third party gamete material or produces life in a Petri dish rather than through the unitive act of love between husband and wife is prohibited.

It is more than just the impact of IVF on the “one flesh” relationship of husband and wife that can be detrimental to the image of God.  For not only are the husband and wife the image of God, but so is the child who is received.  In discussion with Dr Grier, he found it concerning that IVF produces the image of God in a petri dish.  Why would this be concerning? The Bible describes every person as being specially made or knit together by God in our mothers womb.  Each of us are made in the image of God.  Each of us ought to love God and live according to His word, and live as temples of the Holy Spirit.  The Heidelberg Catechism, in question and answer one, describes it like this, “that we are not our own but belong both in body and soul to our faithful saviour, Jesus Christ.”  One of the reasons that we should do our best to care for those around us, is because God has invested Himself is each one of us.  For this reason we should not abuse ourselves or any other person.  How, then, can we set up a situation where a tiny human being is committed to enduring its earliest days of life in the hostile environment of a petri dish?  (See blog entry IVF – Babies’ Hostile Beginnings.) So, not only does IVF work at separating the “one flesh” relationship that God created in His image but it also commits the image of God, that is conceived, to an unnaturally hostile beginning..

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