In a world that no longer values all human life, children become commodities and not gifts: Sex to make babies may become redundant as IVF becomes the norm (via Mirror of Justice). Update: link corrected
The foundational principle of Catholic Social Doctrine is the inherent dignity and sacredness of the human person. When the prevailing culture moves away from this principle by accepting abortion and euthanasia, for example, things become more important than people. In IVF the creation of human life is reduced to a production process:
Human beings bear the image and likeness of God. They are to be reverenced as sacred. Never are they to be used as a means to an end, not even to satisfy the deepest wishes of an infertile couple. Husbands and wives “make love,” they do not “make babies.” They give expression to their love for one another, and a child may or may not be engendered by that act of love. The marital act is not a manufacturing process, and children are not products. Like the Son of God himself, we are the kind of beings who are “begotten, not made” and, therefore, of equal status and dignity with our parents (Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology (USCCB).
Read the whole thing here: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/98rlphaa.shtml
When I read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley in the late 1970’s, I thought that it was prophetic. Although Huxley was not writing as a prophet, his novel was a criticism of the idea that man could create a Utopian society, it struck me as a much more realistic possibility than the Novel Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell .
I had not (yet) read the Encyclical Letter of Paul VI Of Human Life, but the Pope foresaw the grave consequences that would be the result of the acceptance of artificial contraception. He understood that while man, through the development of technology and science could be involved with “generating life”, man should be careful in crossing the line into God’s realm.
Just because we can does not mean that we should.
Infertility is a great tragedy. I have shaken my fist at God on occasion while praying for couples who are unable to conceive. I can’t imagine life without my children and grandchildren. Infertility must be a terrible cross to bear. But we are all called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus on the way to Calvary.
Jesus Christ conquered sin and death, but we are still journeying to the new creation where there will be no more suffering.
In Huxley’s world science and technology succeeded in eradicating suffering. But it was also a loveless world devoid of joy.
I have to admit before truly wanting to learn and participate in my Catholic faith, I was one of those who thought IVF was fine and everyone should mind their own business. But as I learn more and more I have figured out its not ok. I am finally understanding that you can’t be a part time Catholic. This post was great. I do wonder how to react when girlfriends share the news of IVF as their choice to bear children. Is nodding and smiling acceptable even though I really don’t agree?!?!
Thank you so much for your kind comment. FYI I linked to the wrong article; I just corrected it.
Your question about responding to friends who opt to have IVF is a good one. It depends on the situation. If the news is given prior to the procedure, you might, with great love, explain the teaching of the Church. But it is important not to argue. Just say this is what the Church teaches, this is why, and this is why I believe it.
In the past I turned too many people away from Christ and his Church in my zeal.
If you learn of the news after the fact, well that is more difficult. Nothing will be gained by stating Church teaching. If the procedure results in a pregnancy, there is nothing wrong with expressing joy. A child is always a blessing and a gift even if the method is a grave sin. It is probably best to find an opportunity to share the Church’s teaching at a later date (probably after birth).
If the procedure failed, then it is probably best to wait to a later time to share what you have learned. First give them time to deal with their disappointment.
Above all have compassion for your friends. It is hard to go against our culture. Remember that sometimes prayer is the most powerful action we can take.
This post was very meaningful to me. Infertility is a heavy cross; however, when I clear my mind of my own wants, I have been able to see the gift I was given. Had I been able to bear children, I would never have invested 10’s of thousands of dollars for adoption. I would not be fingerprinted, investigated, and recommended by friends and employers. I would not have literally crossed the globe to adopt two children in desperate need of a good home. My own infertility blessed me with children whom I chose, or rather God chose for me. My vocation as a mother is an assignment to raise children in a loving home, and appreciate the lack of a loving home for many left in the orphanage.
Children are not products! They are a gift from God.
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