Test-Tube Tower of Babel

October 18, 2005 | 122 comments
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Recently I linked to an article about single women getting artificially inseminated, without the trouble of men or marriage.

Maggie Gallagher has been gay-marriage blogging over at the Volokhs’ place. She has prompted on of their cobloggers to confess that he is opposed to it on Hayekian/Burkean grounds, but that he wonders very much how artificial insemination, test tube babies (aka IVF), embryo adoption, and womb-renting changes things. He asks Gallagher if her opposition to gay marriage means she must oppose these sorts of things also, at least outside of marriage.

I wonder the same thing. I’m put off by artificial insemination, because I’ve only seen it done to cattle. I’m dubious about test-tube babies (IVF) because I’m inclined to think that embryos are morally human and multiple embryos are often made just to be destroyed, and because of the expense and time consumption. Womb renting makes my knee jerk hard, because it commercializes mothering and because I think ideally children should be bound to their parents both biologically, legally, and through the priesthood. I’m uneasy about embryo adoption for the same reason. For all of these, I have to admit too that I’m uncomfortable with making the creation of life too technological, for reasons I can’t explain.

But these are just my partly-emotional and poorly-reasoned instincts; I am not willing to come to any conclusions based on them. So the question I have is whether our LDS opposition to legalizing gay marriage entails any position on these life creation issues. Should we be morally opposed? Legally opposed? Opposed outside of marriage? Let me know what you think. Should I or the church oppose artificial life-creation and so forth outside of marriage, for some of the same reasons we’re opposed to gay marriage?

To keep the debate coherent, lets put some Faulconer-Huff limits on it:
1. For now, lets avoid debating the morality and legality of these various techniques independently of our LDS stance on gay marriage.
2. Lets take both our LDS opposition to legalizing gay marriage and the reasonableness of that opposition as givens. In other words, participants should either believe or accept as a hypothetical premise that (a) the LDS church opposes legalizing gay marriage and that this opposition has authority and (b) the opposition isn’t arbitrary (e.g., a test of faith) but that there are discernible real-world reasons and moral principles that explain this opposition.

[Update: Some have read me to be saying that infertile couples who seek IVF are like cattle. Let me disavow that one as fast as I can and apologize to any one who got that impression.
What I said was that I had seen cattle get artificially inseminated and this had given me an unreasonable prejudice against the practice in humans. I said nothing about IVF, nor did I mean to suggest that reproductive techniques generally shouldn't be used by humans because some of them are used on animals. I've made a few changes to the post to make that clearer.]

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122 Responses to Test-Tube Tower of Babel

  1. Ronan on October 18, 2005 at 12:04 pm

    [Removed for arguing the merits of IVF apart from any connection to gay marriage.]

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    If you’re wondering what the reasons are for opposing gay marriage, that *might* be the reasons the church is against it, see the discussions linked at the bottom of this post:
    http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php?p=812

    Also, check out Maggie Gallagher over at the Volokhs. She’s been lights out.
    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129559685
    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129565640
    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129571505
    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129586609

  3. Ronan on October 18, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    [This portion is removed for arguing the merits of IVF apart from any connection to gay marriage.]

    I see no reason to oppose IVF, and I see no connection between IVF and gay marriage.

  4. Stephanie on October 18, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    If I understand you correctly, you’re asking if our LDS opposition to same-sex marriage naturally extends to opposition of artificial creation of life outside of marriage.

    One of the big things that comes to mind is the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” and whether the methods of creating life fulfill or reject those principles. A sperm donor, for example, is technically a father–possibly of several children. However, even if he wished to, he has no way to provide for or protect those children, which is a responsibility divinely appointed to those who choose to procreate. By the same token, a single woman who chooses to be artificially inseminated willingly creates a situation in which her child may or may not have the opportunity to be sealed to and raised by a father and mother. The Proclamation tells us that children are entitled to these blessings, so I don’t see how we can support measures that would deliberately deny them.

  5. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    Plays in perfectly as far as I am concerned.

    As far as I see it the church wants hetero marriage to be the preferred family structure. So the church opposed gay marriage as a direct threat to the primacy of hetero marriage in our society.

    For the what could be some of the same reasons the church per the GHI if my memory serves me also is opposed to the artificial insemination of single women. Why would the church support the intential creation of single family homes?

    As far as the methods of artificial insemination. I am on board with using science to help infertile couples concieve. Each child is a real blessing from the Lord.

  6. Ronan on October 18, 2005 at 12:50 pm

    As per Mr. Bell I concur that there could be two different discussions here: IVF for infertile couples vs. IVF for singles.

  7. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 12:54 pm

    “Should we be morally opposed? Legally opposed? Opposed outside of marriage? ”

    As stated, I also thought the distinction between married and single could be important. I hadn’t thought about the distinction between fertile and infertile. Are there reproductive techniques that would be appropriate for an infertile, married couple but not for a fertile couple–IVF, artificial insemination, embryo adoption, surrogacy?

  8. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Ronan is absolutely correct: there is nothing wrong with IVF (or surrogacy, for that matter), and there is no connection with gay marriage. This thread is insulting IMHO towards infertile couples.

  9. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 1:09 pm

    Steve,

    Give me a break. If you cannot dicsus issues then lets just shut down the bloggernacle. Having been in a marriage that both had fertility issues and then suddenly lots of babies all over the place I can tell you that discussing issues regarding fertility treatments should not be offensive.

    There is a clear connection between SSM and advocating a anything goes platform in regards to intentional single parenthood. Its all part of a secular sexual liberation agenda opposed to traditional values that the LDS doctrine seems to oppose.

    I would like to know what the church thinks of surrogacy. I ahve not really thought out my position on that. IVF is great as far as I am concerned for married couples.

  10. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    “If I understand you correctly, you’re asking if our LDS opposition to same-sex marriage naturally extends to opposition of artificial creation of life outside of marriage.”

    Yes, that’s a good restatement.

  11. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    b bell, I don’t want to shut down the bloggernacle, just your bit and this post.

  12. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    “Ronan is absolutely correct: there is nothing wrong with IVF (or surrogacy, for that matter), and there is no connection with gay marriage. This thread is insulting IMHO towards infertile couples.”

    I for one applaud Steve E. for dispelling the stereotype that liberals are unable to advance reasoned arguments for their positions and instead rely on “insult” and “offense” to shut down discussion.

    Kudos to Steve E. for recognizing that the stereotypical liberal approach would be particularly inappropriate here where I am looking for a reasoned position on the issue that I can adopt.

  13. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 1:20 pm

    “Easy there [Steve], no need to start getting abusive.”

    – Steve Evans

  14. Julie in Austin on October 18, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    I’m wondering where the discussion of money (and the stewardship thereof) and accepting the Lord’s will comes into play.

    Let’s say that my husband and I are infertile. All of the above-mentioned procedures are extremely costly. At what point does using them reflect my selfish desire to see a little clone of myself and my husband instead of the righteous desire to multiply and replenish the earth? At what point should I either resign myself to childlessness or begin adoption procedures instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on getting pregnant?

    At what point do these efforts suggest that I am rejecting the fact that the Lord’s plan for me (at the moment, at least) is to be infertile?

    I’m not willing to say that there are any hard and fast answers (for married people), but I would think one would want to be extremely prayerful about all of the above.

    (And I can’t see the link to SSM.)

  15. Ana on October 18, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    I couldn’t begin to presume to tell you what family-building choices we should find morally acceptable for broad groups like all married couples or all married, infertile couples. I don’t know the reproductive history of the posters and commenters here, of course. But I would suggest that unless a person has faced these decisions, he or she may be ill-qualified to generalize about what is moral and what is not when someone is trying to build a family.

    These choices are extremely personal. My husband’s and my understanding, approaching them as a married, infertile couple, was that they were ours to make, guided by careful study, prayer and personal revelation. There were things we chose not to pursue because of financial and emotional cost, things we chose not to pursue because of personal discomfort, and things we chose not to pursue because of low availability. It would have been incredibly arrogant to think that our rejection of these options for our family meant they were wrong for other people. The option we chose after some medical interventions failed us — open, domestic transracial adoption — is certainly questioned by some people in this world. But quite frankly, it’s none of their business. Other people’s use of reproductive technology is none of mine. I can imagine all kinds of situations outside of infertility that would make it desirable and justifiable to use that technology — high risk for genetic disorders, health of the mother prohibiting the carrying of her child, etc.

    That said, my understanding is that people who choose to consult with their bishops about these things will find themselves discouraged from pursuing donor gametes (but not from using intrauterine insemination with the husband’s sperm) and from pursuing any reproductive technology either as a donor or a recipient outside of marriage. When you think about what’s needed for a temple sealing — a child must be sealed to either its biological or adoptive parents — that makes sense. There’s not really a place there for the non-biological parent of a child conceived using donor gametes. And notwithstanding my husband’s feelings that he will be sealed to his mother in the eternities (and his father if he ever shapes up) there is no sealing ordinance available for mothers and children without fathers.

    As for embryo adoption, I would totally do that if it were more widely practiced and readily available. I think it would be just awesome to be able to share my own experiences instead of my sons’ birthmoms’ experiences when the talk turns to birth stories, as it always does at gatherings of women, LDS or otherwise.

  16. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks to Adam and Frank, the most compassionate and open-minded of the bloggers here, to approach as sensitive a topic as infertility and consider restricting it out of some paranoid associations with gay marriage. Are either of you personally affected by the topic?

    Adam, I would address your logic were there any. You want what — to stop IVF or have the church ban it or restrict it because it is a technology that gays could also use? That is patently ridiculous. Perhaps we should restrict anything that could inadvertently benefit homosexuals, lest they prosper. My reaction isn’t a stereotypical liberal approach, Adam. [Personal attacks deleted.]

    Frank: touche.

  17. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    Julie in A.,
    Lets stay off a general debate of the merits of IVF for now. That’s what Ronan was trying to do to when I removed his comment.

    The SSM link requires a little thought. I’m asking what the reasons might be for the opposition to SSM and if those reasons tell us something about any of the various reproductive techniques in any context–married v. single? fertile v. infertile?

  18. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    Adam, if you’re going to edit me, fine. Physician, heal thyself and delete your comments 12 and 13, then edit Julie in A. as well. Be consistent with your censorship, at the very least.

  19. Julie in Austin on October 18, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    Sorry, Adam, I misunderstood how strict you wanted to parameters of the discussion to be. Feel free to delete my comment if you’d like.

  20. Rebecca on October 18, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Adam – don’t you think you should be editing YOUR personal attacks on others rather than just deleting those made by others??

  21. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 1:39 pm

    “Adam, I would address your logic were there any. You want what – to stop IVF or have the church ban it or restrict it because it is a technology that gays could also use?”

    Perhaps you should take off your Greenwood-is-evil glasses before you read my posts. The reason you don’t find any logic to address is because I’m not taking a position. What I want is to know what to think about IVF and surrogacy and artificial insemination and embryo adoption. Because I thought just asking the question generally would cause a spewing-from-all-orifices hysterical flame war (a thought that some of the attempts to discuss the general question have not disabused me of), I thought I ask a discrete question: Do any of the reasons for opposing SSM tell us anything about these reproductive technologies?

    Perhaps you think there is no reason to oppose SSM. Fine, but this isn’t the place for that argument. Perhaps you think there’s no connection between opposing SSM and reproductive technology use in any context. Fine, but tell my why.

  22. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    Steve E.,

    I left in your ‘patently absurd’ and “paranoid” stuff but removed the sentence with the profanity, which I intend to consistently delete, especially if made as a personal attack.

  23. Clark on October 18, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    It seems SSM is tied to our notion of marriage intrinsically in ways surrogacy isn’t. Further we can oppose people redefining marriage without wanting to limit acts.

    It seems to me that the church has been fairly explicit in not wanting single women (or men) to get pregnant. I don’t recall any comments on adoption, but that’s a trickier issue. For the “wanted” babies there is a short supply. For the older children who really need adoption there are few willing to take them. So that’s just more complex for the older children. But I think the church’s ideal is that children be raised in a righteous nuclear family. Thus intentionally chosen single parenthood is just selfish. I think the church’s position is best understood in terms of consequentialism.

    But I just don’t see the connection with SSM anymore than I see the connection about rules on adultery and fornication as having an intrinsic SSM connection.

  24. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    It’s a complete apple-and-orange scenario, Adam. How can we possibly show you that there is no connection between two things? I cannot prove a negative in that way. The reasons for opposing SSM are whatever you will inevitably invent in your own mind; if you have created some construct to do so, and you’re also predisposed against fertility treatments as you seem to be, perhaps you have invented some instinctual connection. But this should not be so. The key reason to oppose SSM is revelation and prophetic guidance; they have uttered nothing similar about reproductive technologies.

    Hence the insult of this ridiculous topic: you take a sensitive issue, dear to the hearts of married and childless couples everywhere, and try to link it to something opposed by the leadership of the church. It’s both wrong and wrongheaded. Defining an infinitesimally small parameter for discussion won’t help you.

  25. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    I see the links.

    SSM and intentional single parenthood (thru normal or assisted conception) are linked. Both involve direct opposition to LDS doctrine regarding chastity and the importance of married hetero couples being the ideal for raising children. Both positions are in direct opposition to the Family Proclamation and are part of the same sexual liberation movement that has infested western civilization to the detriment of society as warned about by modern prophets.

  26. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    You don’t have to prove a negative, Steve E. You just have to explain what you think the reasons are for opposing SSM and then discuss whether those reasons would apply to reproductive technologies in any context. It’s analogical reasoning.

    Here’s an example. “We oppose SSM because we think fathers and mothers parent differently and children should have both. We therefore are probably also opposed to non-married people using IVF, artificial insemination, etc., to have children.”

  27. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    here you go, then, from my earlier comment.

    The key reason to oppose SSM is revelation and prophetic guidance; they have uttered nothing similar about reproductive technologies.

  28. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    Steve,

    They have clearly spoken out about intentional single parenthood. By any method. Natural or assisted.

  29. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    If that’s your position, fine, Steve E., but that’s not very helpful. I asked people who thought there weren’t discernible reasons behind the prophet’s opposition to SSM to leave this discussion alone, so those who thought there were reasons could talk.

  30. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 2:24 pm

    Not exactly, Adam. While you’ve whittled the worthy participants down a fair bit, you set the parameter as: “the opposition isn’t arbitrary (e.g., a test of faith) but that there are discernible real-world reasons and moral principles that explain this opposition.”

    I don’t see it as a test of faith at all – it is simply a matter of pronouncements made within the Prophet’s jurisdiction. Our leaders have not proclaimed against SSM because of real-world reasons or moral principles, other than their diving calling. For us to look beyond these is looking beyond the mark, wherein ye err.

    Sorry if that isn’t helpful.

  31. J. Stapley on October 18, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t know that my postition will fall outside of your specified boundaries, but here goes: I think that the reason the Church is against SSM is that there are scriptural support for the position. There is also scriptural support for opposition to fornication. There is no scriptural support for opposition to IVF. Moreover, single parenthood is not sinful. Single parenthood is, I imagine that we can agree, is less than ideal, though great men, including some apostle and my mom are products of such homes.

    While there is reasonable support for the sinful nature of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, there is no such support for IVF. Seems futile.

  32. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    Steve E.,
    The idea that the only morality is what the prophet says, and that prophetic statements do not suggest generally applicable moral principles from which we can reason, is a respectable one within Mormondom. Although respectable, that view is not mine and not helpful to me, so I’ve asked people not to force that view into the conversation.

    If you re-read the main post you’ll see that the ‘test of faith’ thing was just an ‘e.g.’

  33. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:35 pm

    J. Stapley,
    I think all you’ve done is remove the question one step. Now, instead of asking why the prophets oppose SSM, we just ask why the scriptures do.

  34. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    Adam, let me ask a clarifying question, if it is not too far afield of this staggeringly narrow discussion:

    Do you have any reason, aside from your “temperment,” for treating reproductive technologies any differently than adoption?

    If not, it seems to me like you have picked an unnecessarily aggravating way of framing the issue.

  35. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:40 pm

    Why certain reproductive technologies are or are not different from adoption is a question I hoped this discussion would help answer.

  36. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    J.,

    You’re confusing two rather different states:

    1. Single parenting owing to tragedy or temporal circumstances or a lout of a spouse requiring divorce.
    2. Being single first, and then choosing to bring a child into that home without a second parent available. A second parent that the Proclamation notes is an entitlement.

    Your statements about single parenting seem to apply very well to the first but it is not clear that they apply to the second. I am no expert on the matter, but it seems obvious that the two cases should be evaluated separately.

  37. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 2:45 pm

    Steve,

    Your comments are a valuable part of this discussion; please don’t feel otherwise.

  38. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 2:47 pm

    Kaimi,

    ha!

    We miss having you out here in NYC.

  39. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    Kaimi W.,
    I’ve specifically asked people to put aside the premise that we can’t find reasons and principles behind prophetic announcements that can be applied to other areas. Comments that refuse to put aside that premise are not properly part of the discussion at all, let alone valuable.

  40. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    And I miss the icy, wind-blown streets of the city.

    Well, until the moment that I step outside into the warm sunlight, on my way to the beach in October.

  41. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    See, Kaimi? told ya.

  42. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 2:54 pm

    Somebody grab the GHI…….

    It has a mention about intentional single parenting thru artificial means and church discipline.

  43. J. Stapley on October 18, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Frank, I’m not sure how you could say that single parenthood is sinful. Fornication, yes, but not single parenthood. Now, since it is not sinful, we can conclude, in light of Church council, that it is less than ideal to have single parent families.

  44. Rosalynde on October 18, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    Wow, two shockers here: Frank touting entitlement, and Adam objecting to costly parenthood! ;)

    I’m pretty surprised to hear that you’re uncomfortable with IVF because of its costs of time and money, Adam. Based on previous discussions, I’d have thought your position would be that children are the supreme gift from God, and worth turning one’s life upside down for and sacrificing any amount of time and money to get. Is IVF really more costly, in time and money, than, say, a pregnancy that requires the mother to be on bed rest for months at a time? (Assuming one takes seriously the contention that uncompensated domestic work represents a real financial contribution to the family economy.)

  45. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 2:57 pm

    Adam,

    Let me throw your question back at you –

    To the extent that we believe that SSM is wrong (and, per your ground rules, accepting that assumption for now), doesn’t that belief strongly support the use of IVF between a heterosexual married couple?

    One of the standard arguments for the wrongness of SSM is that marriage is fundamentally about babies. We marry to reproduce, it’s all about the babies, and thus same-sex couples should not marry.

    If this is so, Adam, then shouldn’t we be ready to roll out whatever technological aids are available so that, come hell or high water, married couples will be having babies?

    Thus, it seems that the church position of opposition to SSM (if this exists) tends to strongly support the possibility of IVF or other reproductive aids between heterosexual married couples.

  46. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    By the way, let me suggest that everyone, before posting, bear in mind that we don’t know which readers or commenters might be dealing with painful fertility issues themselves, and so we should be especially cautious about our comments on this thread.

  47. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 3:00 pm

    Adam, are you just trying to tease us, or is your answer (at least currently) to my question no, you do not have any basis for distinguishing between reproductive technology and adoption?

    It seems to me that the least you can do as the creator and administrator of the rather odd (I was going to use another word, but thought better of it) parameters for this discussion is to come clean on where you stand.

    In other words, do you have some reason to be pissing people off here, or is that just a unintended side effect that you are beligerently refusing to abandon?

  48. gst on October 18, 2005 at 3:01 pm

    Kaimi, I don’t think so. Here’s one reproductive aid that would certainly lead to more babies but that I presume we can all rule out: Assume an infertile father and a fertile mother contracts a fertile friend to naturally impregnate the mother. Result: more babies.

  49. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    J Stapely,

    Would you consider this sinful?

    40 year old single LDS woman goes to a fertility clinic and gets pregnant from IVF. No father or intention of ever having a father for the child or getting married.

    Your thoughts?

    IVF is OK for married couples as far as I am concerned.

    K,

    “If this is so, Adam, then shouldn’t we be ready to roll out whatever technological aids are available so that, come hell or high water, married couples will be having babies?” I would say probably yes.

  50. Rosalynde on October 18, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Also, I think it’s interesting that intentional single motherhood via artificial techniques is seen as “selfish,” whereas intentional married motherhood—with, presumably, more support, resources, and advantages for mother and child—is seen as redemptively sacrificial. Personally, I think most sorts of motherhood, regardless of origin and context, satisfy a deep biological drive in women to produce a child, the process of which , while tremendously costly, yields very compelling psychic and social rewards—and thus in that sense, nearly all sorts of motherhood can be called “selfish,” in a sort of value-free way.

    (This is not to say that I endorse intentional single motherhood.)

    (And now to atone for two off-topic comments, I’m going to compose one on-point.)

  51. gst on October 18, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    I like Steve Evans better when he’s funny.

    Steve: make with the ha-ha.

  52. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    and 52!! Is there no power in Judah to vanquish philistine commenters?!

  53. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    gst, you just made the list too — delete 53 forthwith!!

  54. gst on October 18, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    There ya go.

  55. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    A fine argument, Kaimi. I might reformulate it this way.

    The danger of SSM is that it suggests marriage is not fundamentally meant to protect children, because having children is not really a risk of gay relationships. On the other hand, the more heterosexual married couples that have children, the more the connection between marriage and children is reinforced, and therefore we should support IVF, etc., for marrieds.

    The only flaw in this argument, probably not a fatal one, is that I’m not sure the idea that marriage should be about children completely explains our opposition to SSM, because presumably we are opposed to SSM even for gay relationships where one of the partners has created a child. But one might think we are opposed even to those relationships just because its too politically messy to distinguish them.

  56. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    Rosalynde,

    Just because I don’t automatically favor using guns and prisons to force a legal entitlement doesn’t mean I don’t agree with the Proclamation’s stance that children should have two parents! As you know, often the issue is not what is decided, but who gets to decide.

    J.,

    Are you creating some special cateogry of “sinful” that is different than the boring one of “purposefully doing what is against God’s will”? Because I am not sure if I am missing some nuance you wish to perpetuate. If God does not wish me to have a child, and I, knowing this, choose to have one, then that is sinful. If you do that and you are single then it is still sinful. So yes, single parenthood [just like married parenthood] has the potential to be sinful.

    That said, I don’t know what, if any, position the Church has taken. You seem to think you know but so far your illustrations don’t seem on target nor represent Church doctrine. They relate to 1), rather than 2), above. That is fine but simply does not answer the relevant conundrum.

  57. gst on October 18, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    I would revise my comment #48 to switch “father” to “husband” and “mother” to “wife.” That was jumping the gun a bit. Also, to make clear that contractor was a man, if we couldn’t figure that out. And for fun, let’s say he’s literally a contractor, like a plumber or something.

  58. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    gst, that’s a-bannin’ for that comment. Talkin’ out of turn… that’s a bannin’. Lookin’ out the window…. that’s a bannin’. Starin’ at my sandals…. that’s a bannin’. Banner of Heaven… oh, you’d better believe that’s a bannin’.

  59. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Note that the possibility of IVF raises some weird potential scenarios.

    I’ve only lightly followed the recent Katie Holmes – Tom Cruise escapades, but as I understand it, the chronology has roughly gone as follows:

    1. Katie makes a number of public statements that she’s a good Catholic girl who’s going to save it for marriage.
    2. Katie starts dating Tom Cruise.
    3. Katie gets pregnant.
    4. Katie’s family is furious.
    5. Katie says “It’s okay, we’re not sleeping together. The baby is IVF.”
    (Family is still none too happy).

    That raises an interesting question — if this is all accurate (and who knows, really?), has Katie violated the law of chastity, as Mormons understand the concept?

    Is it possible for anyone to have a virgin birth now, via IVF? If so, what does that do to our understanding of the sacredness of the virgin birth of Christ?

  60. Rosalynde on October 18, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Adam, would it be okay to look at abortion rather than SSM for guiding principles?

    It seems to me that the church’s stance on abortion suggests rather clearly that the principle of choice and accountability should undergird reproductive practices: when a couple makes the choice to engage in sexual relations without taking reasonable steps to prevent pregnancy, they must be accountable for the resulting pregnancy, whatever the cost. (Conversely, when the sex and/or pregnancy is not the result of choice but of coercion, the individual is not accountable for the result.) So perhaps we could extrapolate: when a couple chooses to engage in the artificial alternatives to sexual conception, they must be accountable for the results, whatever the cost. Thus, in the case of IVF, a couple should not transfer more embryos than they are willing to carry to term (or try to, regardless of danger), and should not create more embryos than they are willing to transfer either immediately or later. This makes the process less efficient and more costly, of course, but would seem to hold up to the principle of choice and accountability.

    Surrogacy is more problematic, because legally the *surrogate* is accountable for the pregnancy and child until formal adoption proceedings occur—so the accountability is muddied.

    Embryo adoption actually seems okay, since adoption of live-birth babies is okay: the accountable parties have made legal arrangements to transfer the accountability to others.

  61. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    Ros: “legally the *surrogate* is accountable for the pregnancy and child until formal adoption proceedings occur”

    that varies from state to state, actually. California, for example, looks to the surrogacy agreement foremost.

  62. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    As the last 20+ comments show, now that we’ve got some conversations started along the lines I was hoping for, I’m not going to be so strict about enforcing the parameters. But try to stick with ‘em, will ya?

  63. gst on October 18, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Kaimi, if that chronology is the product of someone who’s “lightly followed” the affairs of two movie stars, I wonder what a real expert could come up with. Jeez.

  64. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    GST,

    It’s more or less impossible not to at least see the headlines at CNN.com and Drudge. “Holmes pregnant” sorta says it all, doesn’t it?

  65. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting, Rosalynde W., especially when it relates to the IVF thing.

    A few points:
    your analysis does not explain why, if we make the choice to risk conception, giving birth to the baby is our accountability. In other words, we need some account of what’s owed the baby.
    Your analysis might be more complete if you extended it. We discourage abortion and encourage adoption when the baby is single. Why?
    We are opposed to sex outside marriage. Why? Does the risk of conceiving a baby outside marriage have anything to do with it or is it entirely other factors–disrespect to God’s gifts, misuse of partner, etc.?

  66. J. Stapley on October 18, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    The church handbook declares only that a single sister who is “artificially inseminated” is cause for meeting with church leaders. I guess IVF is okay then. :)

    Frank, I am suggesting that In many cases a single sister can do a great job rainsing children. The state is not sinful. The question remains if there are non-sinful manners to enter into that state. I believe there are. I submit that a adoption in this case is not sinful – I have no reason to believe that it is.

  67. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    As Adam knows, I’m not an entirely reliable ally in his opposition to same-sex marriage. However, I understand where he’s coming from here completely. I don’t think it is at all far-fetched to suggest that an opposition to same-sex marriage implies a commitment to a particular natural form of family life, and that such a commitment implies an opposition to certain innovations in reproduction. The question is whether the Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage really does imply such a commitment to a particular natural form of family life. In my observation, the majority of members of the church–both general authorities and others–who have spoken about or have involved themselves in the fight against same-sex marriage have, in fact, embraced a kind of “natural theology” in their thinking about marriage: that is, there is a preferred form of family life, and it is preferred because it is a natural whole, “unnatural” acts like various reproductive strategies compromise that whole, thus making the whole thing appear more and merely “contractual” and making SSM more plausible, etc. In other words, according to this dominant way of thinking about the controversy, there is a real connection between SSM and IVF, though it is a connection that is only slowly coming to be recognized by most Mormons and Protestant inclined to this kind of argument. (Catholics are somewhat ahead of the curve here, since so much of their theology of marriage has always been wrapped up in just that sort of naturalism.)

  68. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    And as far as cattle, Adam, that seems like a non-sequitur.

    If I’ve only seen a Caesarian birth performed in cattle, should I be temperamentally opposed to a Caesarian in humans? For that matter, if I’ve only seen cows have twins, should I think that twins are unnatural? “I’ve seen it done in cattle” is far too slender of a reed to support any reasonable argument.

  69. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    “Frank, I am suggesting that In many cases a single sister can do a great job raising children. The state is not sinful. The question remains if there are non-sinful manners to enter into that state. I believe there are. I submit that a adoption in this case is not sinful – I have no reason to believe that it is. ”

    Anybody know???? Anybody ever seen this occur? What was the local stake/ward reaction?

  70. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    “‘I’ve seen it done in cattle’ is far too slender of a reed to support any reasonable argument.”

    How right you are. In fact, I made that same point in the original post.

  71. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    Russell, that’s not a rational basis — it’s a holistic worldview. “Natural” arguments when it comes to family are as instinctual as Adam’s “knee-jerk” against cattle.

  72. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t understand what’s illogical about the viewpoint that Russell Fox outlines.

  73. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:44 pm

    Adam, perhaps that’s why your post is so insensitive.

  74. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    RAF, and do those same people deliver their babies at home by candle light? As a more serious example, I presume under the vision you outline that birth control of any means is entirely unacceptable, particularly something like the pill or an IUD. How do they decide which technological innovations are acceptable and which are not?

    If Adam is hoping to send us back to a time and place before all such innovations, I’d just assume take the next train thanks.

  75. Mark B. on October 18, 2005 at 3:47 pm

    Actually, having seen a breach birth of a calf, complete with manual attempts to turn the calf and, finally, the tying of the calf’s rear hooves together with a cord and pulling the calf out, I must say that I’m unalterably opposed to human birth by that method.

  76. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    Steve,

    “that’s not a rational basis – it’s a holistic worldview”

    If I’m understanding this comment correctly, you’re suggesting that to propose a moral connection between disparate acts is to simply assert a worldview within which “nature” is defined in such a way as to include said acts. Well, yes, you’re right, that’s exactly what I believe many opponents of SSM marriage have done. But I don’t understand why such an assertion can’t claim rational coherence. Catholic scholars have been refining arguments about the natural telos of the human family for centuries; they’re hardly just popping up and staying that something strikes them as gross and so therefore must be unnatural, and hence bad. Most of the Protestants and Mormons that I have seen take up these natural law-type arguments have similarly done so in a reasoned fashion.

    Now, you can disagree with that definition of nature, of course. (I do myself, which is why I’m not entirely comfortable with the way many of fellow church members argue against SSM.) But I don’t see what you gain by describing it as a “worldview.” It’s not like rationality is some pure tool of argument which exists outside all such assertions.

  77. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Randy,

    Are you unaware of the growing natural-birth movement?

    Personally, I think it’s nuts — give me drugs, lots of them, if I’m in pain — but it is definitely a philosophy espoused by a growing segment of church members.

  78. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Me too, Mark B., me too. Also castration and (for Mormons) dehorning.

  79. Travis on October 18, 2005 at 3:52 pm

    Re #69 A single woman in a ward I attended whom I know and respect met with her Bishop to counsel with him about her desire to adopt a young girl. Based on the handbook (I think), he initially counseled her to not go through with the adoption. She asked for a priesthood blessing, which he gave to her. This blessing counseled her to go through with the adoption and, from that moment on, he strongly supported her in her desire. She adopted the little girl and, while the situation has not been without its challenges, has been a positive experience for mother and daughter.

    I came by this information firsthand from the Bishop involved. It is only one experience and I was not involved, but this is one of the best (if not the best) Bishops I’ve ever had and I am not inclined to think he was off his rocker.

    I can only conclude that sometimes God works in mysterious ways and we would do well to be humble about our understanding of what His will is. Notwithstanding any success (if any) of the mental gymnastics that Adam, et. al are attempting in this thread, I think we would all do well to maintain a substantial amount of humility and reserve judgment on these questions until we they become relevant for us individually. The logic of these lines of argument is so attenuated and the issues so complex, that I have a low degree of confidence that clarity will come from this discussion.

  80. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    “I have a low degree of confidence that clarity will come from this discussion.”

    If past is prologue, how right you are.

  81. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    Russell, you’re right — perhaps I took rationality to mean something other than a nicely self-defined definition of natural. Arguments about the natural telos, though they’ve been around awhile, don’t go very far when you can’t agree definitionally. But there’s the rub, you see — the definition is everything. Where would we get such a definition? From the Catholics? doubtful. From our prophet? sure, but the transposition of naturality as Adam has done here to raise eyebrows at IVF goes beyond the Proclamation on the Family or the LDS opposition to SSM or whatever source text you choose. We’re in new territory here, and so there’s no reason to equate infertile couples with cattle or [personal attacks deleted].

  82. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    Randy,

    “Do those same people deliver their babies at home by candle light?”

    Some do, actually. There’s a small but important movement of Christian (mostly, but not entirely, Catholic) agrarians and other antimoderns who insist that preserving a family and a community attuned to the moral law of nature requires a rejection of technology–a conclusion which various Anabaptists came to centuries ago, of course. (They wisely reject modern corporate capitalism too, but that’s a different thread.) Their arguments are powerful ones, I think, though I don’t embrace them myself.

    “As a more serious example, I presume under the vision you outline that birth control of any means is entirely unacceptable, particularly something like the pill or an IUD. How do they decide which technological innovations are acceptable and which are not?”

    Well, ask any serious Catholic. Or, for that matter, ask this guy–a Mormon who is also a strong (and persuasive, if you ask me) advocate of natural family planning. He defends his position with strong medical arguments, as well as theological and ethical ones (both traditionally Christian and Mormon).

  83. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    Kaimi,

    I’m aware of the movement. In fact, at 3:30 am this morning, some of my best friends (claire and cje who both sometimes, though rarely, post here) delivered a new baby girl at their home. Cool by me. But they aren’t out comparing my decidely different approach to SSM. There is a difference between acting on your personal preferences and attempting to establish new church doctrine.

  84. JKS on October 18, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    A single woman who conceives a child out of wedlock is using her procreative powers sinfully, as are men whose sperm impregnate women they aren’t married to. I see no real difference between having premarital sex to conceive, or to use IVF to conceive, or to donate sperm or eggs. All these ways are bringing a child into the world without the benefit of a married mother and father. It is not just the premarital sex that is a sin. Sex is sacred–and one of the main reasons why it is sacred is because it creates children.

  85. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    RAF,

    Ditto. (Didn’t see your post until I posted in response to Kaimi.) In point of fact, cje is an avowed socialist, and I love him for it. But he is at least sensible enough to pick which of the causes he advocates as dictated by God.

  86. JKS on October 18, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    cont. from above

    As for donation, creating a child, intentionally, with no intention of fulfilling your role as a mother or as a father is also wrong. If a child is created accidentally and you choose to give it up for adoption to a family of your choice, that is often a loving choice. But passing out your eggs and sperm like Halloween candy with no thought of your responsibility, is not what God intended.

  87. JKS on October 18, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    Regarding adoption by a single LDS woman.
    My ward had a single LDS woman who became a foster parent. She has adopted two foster children. She is a wonderful parent to these children and no one considers it a sin or a poor decision.
    I think one main reason is that if these children didn’t have her, they wouldn’t have any parent. These weren’t infants that “could” have gone to a couple. These were children in the system.
    I would support any woman who chose to be a mother to children who without her, would have no mother. I think I wouldn’t be as supportive if a single mother chose to adopt, and decided on an easily adoptable infant.

  88. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    Randy B.,
    Did you read my post? Because no where in there do I say that IVF is SSM. What I have done is ask if we can learn anything from SSM about IVF. As Kaimi points out in #45, that’s not necessarily negative.

  89. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    JKS,

    “A single woman who conceives a child out of wedlock is using her procreative powers sinfully”

    What about Mary?

  90. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    “But passing out your eggs and sperm like Halloween candy with no thought of your responsibility, is not what God intended”

    Worst. Halloween. Ever.

  91. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    Steve,

    “Where would we get such a definition? From the Catholics? doubtful. From our prophet? sure, but the transposition of naturality as Adam has done here to raise eyebrows at IVF goes beyond the Proclamation on the Family or the LDS opposition to SSM or whatever source text you choose.”

    I don’t disagree–I think Adam’s embrace of a particular kind of natural theology (he may not agree that he is doing such, but I’m not sure how else to describe it) is highly problematic. In fact, this exact complaint of mine–the strange and not entirely accountable way in which it seems to me many socially conservative Mormons (of which I am one) take up definitions which do not fit our own religious experience–formed the basis of my two very first posts on T&S. Though note that in those posts I admit that people who take Adam’s position may be ahead of the curve here: maybe Mormonism will take a turn towards natural philosophy in its theology, and I can’t say that, in principle, such would obviously be a bad thing.

    Just to lay my cards on the table: I oppose same-sex marriage, but not because I necessarily think there is an eternal natural good in our current form of marriage; I just think, communitarian that I am, that forms themselves have a meaning that should not be disregarded. The best thing I’ve ever read on SSM marriages remains this: a piece from 2003 by a Jewish man who argues that, while civil unions are probably a good idea, marriage itself is so important to the social education of men and women and the children they can have together that it needs to be kept an exclusively heterosexual institution. And, since I believe in what I just wrote regarding children, I’m probably even more worried about the (not always, but sometimes) self-centered, commodified, individualistic way modern technologies (especially genetic technologies) allow some people to go about conceiving children than I am about SSM.

  92. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    K:

    Are you trying to solicit conversation or are you serious. come on….

  93. Kaimi on October 18, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Adam,

    What do we do with scriptures indicating that it was sometimes required to get a single woman pregnant? What about the story of Tamar? At times, it was not only allowed to “raise up seed unto someone else” — it was in fact a requirement.

  94. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    RAF,

    Just finished reading the article you linked to. Very interesting. Frankly, I can’t help but think that a post about that article would have lead to more meaningful discussion than the one Adam wrote.

    An interesting tidbit from the article:

    “I do not presume in any way to judge others (particularly my patients) when they choose to use contraceptives. Their choices about their reproductive potential are between themselves and God, and it is their right and responsibility to determine for themselves what they will do about their fertility.”

  95. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Adam,

    I’ll answer your questions if you’ll answer mine. See #47.

  96. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Russell, I share your view on SSM, but with a different bent: those forms should be maintained by religions and faiths, not by the state. Hence I favor civil unions for all, with marriage the exclusive domain of religion. That way everyone is happy: gays get social benefits, but marriage remains inviolate.

    In terms of where the curve is going, it’s dangerous to predict — but even worse to act as if your predictions are God’s will.

  97. anon on October 18, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Mark B.,

    I’ve delivered calves on multiple occassions by tying a piece of twine around a calf’s hooves and then attaching the twine to a fence stretcher that was then rested against the mother’s body. A few clicks of the jack and the calf is out. It works very well for cattle.

  98. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Perhaps I am an untutored natural theologian, but while I’m attracted to the vision of natural family life that Russell Fox refers to, I’m not yet convinced that it is right. Maybe I’ll get there in fits and starts. And, yes, that 2003 piece is probably the best thing I’ve read too.

  99. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Randy,

    “But he is at least sensible enough to pick which of the causes he advocates as dictated by God.”

    Adam hasn’t said at all that he thinks opposition to IVF is dictated by God; as he states again in #88, he’s just wondering what, if anything, follows from the Mormon opposition to SSM, which has been dictated by God. Depending on how one reads that opposition, or what one sees it as implying, it may well have important ramifications for IVF; that’s all I’m saying.

    Give cje and Claire our best; I can remember liking many of their comments from the past.

  100. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    RAF,

    You are right–Adam has not yet revealed his position. I’m still waiting.

    As for cje and Claire, will do!

  101. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    “I’m still waiting.”

    I’m waiting too. I currently do not have a position.

  102. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    Steve,

    “[Marriage] forms should be maintained by religions and faiths, not by the state. Hence I favor civil unions for all, with marriage the exclusive domain of religion. That way everyone is happy: gays get social benefits, but marriage remains inviolate.”

    No, I can’t go for that; while I’ve been reading more and more mutualists and distributists of late, and can critique the state as well as anyone, I’m still convinced that moral norms can and should be reflected in, and in some cases instantiated by, social forms that receive public backing. Note that I don’t believe all norms should be equally reflected and instantiated; there are real constitutional concerns here. But, generally speaking, I think marriage–including both its moral as well as its social content–is one of those forms that must, legally, be made at least partially into a public concern. (Though I can imagine, on the basis of some of his recorded sermons, that Joseph Smith would have disagreed with me…)

  103. b bell on October 18, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    I have a position.

    We should be supportive of married couples that use IVF to conceive. Children are a blessing and their conception inside marriage is always a reason for celebration. I also will take a position against IVF for unmarried women and homosexuals and take my cue from the Proclamation

    I am not buying natural law arguments against IVF. I feel that this innovation has helped numerous couples conceive and the product of IVF is children hence my support.

    If the LDS church wanted to adopt Catholic natural law doctrine we have had 175 years to do so and it has not occured yet.

  104. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    Adam,

    The answer to your question is yes.

  105. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    Russell, I can see some role for the state, but far reduced from its current level. Reasonable minds can differ on that point. UNreasonable ones, however…

  106. manaen on October 18, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    89 Kaimi,
    “A single woman who conceives a child out of wedlock is using her procreative powers sinfully”
    “What about Mary? ”

    One of my favorite ideas for a bumper sticker: I’m glad that Mary and Joseph weren’t “Pro-Choice”

  107. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    Adam,

    I must say you have an unusual ability to make people think you are more evil than you in fact are. I read your post as an attempt to elicit comments upon an issue you had not thought through, but thought might well be important.

    Yet the assumption by a surprising number of intelligent commenters seems to be that you are hiddenly stalking liberals with blood on your mind.

    Do you have prior felony convictions that might explain this assumption of your lack of goodwill?

  108. Steve Evans on October 18, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    Watch it, Frank. Adam’s not the only one with that particular super-power.

  109. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    J.,

    “Frank, I am suggesting that In many cases a single sister can do a great job rainsing children. The state is not sinful.”

    Nobody around here would argue with that.

    “The question remains if there are non-sinful manners to enter into that state. I believe there are. I submit that a adoption in this case is not sinful – I have no reason to believe that it is.”

    This phrasing of your position is fine with me. I don’t know what God wants, I just thought your comment did not differentiate well between two different cases. What holds for divorced or widowed mothers does not automatically make it okay to choose to have a child while single. As Travis points out, this is the sort of thing that is tricky enough to benefit from priesthood guidance and individual inspiration.

  110. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Steve,

    I think Adam’s better at it than you. Kristine on the other hand…

  111. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    “I must say you have an unusual ability to make people think you are more evil than you in fact are.” One of my talents. Judging from the reaction of folks here, I’d say that its a talent I’ve successfully invested and got back twain.

  112. Randy B. on October 18, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    I would suggest, Adam, that you try and bottle that somehow, except that it seems so sickeningly unnatural. Too bad, really. I bet Frank could put together a killer marketing plan.

  113. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    The real explanation, Frank, is that Steve E. won’t accept I meant the arson as a joke. And Randy B. has a thing against affectionate side-swiping.

  114. Gary on October 18, 2005 at 10:32 pm

    Adam,

    I just found your thread and looked it over. Twice, b bell (#5 and #42) mentions the general handbook of instructions. But, so far, no one has mentioned what the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says—quoting the general handbook of instructions—about artificial insemination, donation of sperm, in vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood. It’s under the heading “Policies, Practices, And Procedures:”

    The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have developed policies, practices, and procedures to give order and continuity throughout the units of the Church and to provide guidelines for its leaders. These guidelines, policies, and procedures have been formalized in the general handbook of instructions, which is distributed to priesthood leaders of the Church. The handbook is revised and brought up to date from time to time to keep instructions current. The following statements have been selected as samples from the latest edition of that handbook (1989), and references are to section and page numbers in that edition….

    Artificial Insemination. “Artificial insemination with semen from anyone but the husband is discouraged…. Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved” (11-4; see Artificial Insemination)….

    Donation of Sperm. “The donation of sperm is discouraged” (11-4).

    In Vitro Fertilization. “In vitro fertilization using semen other than that of the husband or an egg [from anyone] other than the wife is discouraged. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife” (11-4)….

    Surrogate Motherhood. The Church discourages surrogate motherhood (11-5). (Bracketed words in the Encyclopedia.)

    Under a separate heading for “Artificial insemination,” the Encyclopedia says this:

    Artificial insemination is defined as placing semen into the uterus or oviduct by artificial rather than natural means. The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. “However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the husband and wife, with the responsibility for the decision resting solely upon them” (General Handbook of Instructions, 11-4). Children conceived by artificial insemination have the same family ties as children who are conceived naturally. The General Handbook of Instructions (1989) states: “A child conceived by artificial insemination and born after the parents are sealed in the temple is born in the covenant. A child conceived by artificial insemination before the parents are sealed may be sealed to them after they are sealed.”

    I also found an interesting story in a 1993 Deseret Book publication of talks selected from the 1992 Women’s Conference sponsored by Brigham Young University and the Relief Society. The name of the book is Women and Christ: Living the Abundant Life. In a talk titled “The Committee,” Marsha Bennion Giese talks about the birth of her daughter Hannah who was conceived by in vitro fertilization.

    Hannah’s screams echoed in my ears long after I hung up the phone, strident newborn cries that demanded help. A moan rolled out from someplace deep inside me, surprising the hard silence of my hospital room. I’d been checking on her condition with her nurse in an intensive care unit many miles away….

    We lay in separate hospitals, kept from each other by our respective tenuous health. My only physical ties to her were phone lines, my only communication her compelling screams. I’d lost awareness of my own surgery to the pain of her distance.

    Prayers formed as the cries persisted in my head. “Help her, help me, ease her pain, send comfort please.”

    Then as I repeated these petitions, my focus turned inward from my barren room. It seemed to me that suddenly I could see Hannah in the I.C.U. from just a few feet away. Tiny and bare in her isolette, tubes and wires snaked out from her fragile body mooring her to the sophisticated equipment clustered above and to one side. But she was sleeping. Calm and relaxed on her tummy with her knees tucked slightly under her. And she was not alone. Around her with their backs to me stood a trio of women in long white gowns, their heads bending toward each other occasionally in consultation. I recognized them: my late grandmothers Nana and Mimi, and to the right, [my late] Aunt Mary. They hovered protectively at her side, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and with the two nurses tending her equipment. As I watched, they reached to touch her, crooning her name, singing lullabies and reassuring her that life would not always be as painful. This would pass. I knew that this was the committee come to guard her and comfort both of us. My tears subsided; my muscles relaxed. I turned my gaze outward to the night-black windows and pondered the mystery of time and distance and mortal limitations.

    Personally, I don’t think test-tube babies are as inherently problematic as you seem to have suggested with the “Tower of Babel” part of your post title and in the third paragraph of your article.

  115. Julie in Austin on October 19, 2005 at 12:01 am

    “A child conceived by artificial insemination and born after the parents are sealed in the temple is born in the covenant.”

    You can have lots of fun thinking about what this implies (and doesn’t imply) about what is essential to being BIC.

  116. Adam Greenwood on October 19, 2005 at 12:28 am

    More on reproductive technology and the purposes of marriage:
    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129693131

  117. Adam Greenwood on October 19, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Not much bearing on the moral debate
    (except to the extent it leads to more embryo discarding) , but here’s an article on a newly discovered complication with IVF that might explain why its been so costly and difficult:
    http://society.guardian.co.uk/health/news/0,8363,1595303,00.html

  118. Kaimi on October 19, 2005 at 5:33 pm

    Sheri Colb has a recent Findlaw article about the constitutionality of state limits on assisted reproduction for married people, at http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20051019.html .

  119. Randolph Finder on October 20, 2005 at 12:43 am

    Two quick questions (sort of related)

    Sister Anna is married to non-member Richard. She gets pregnant by Richard in January, but she and Richard get divorced in March. Sister Anna is then married in the Temple to Brother Bruce in June. Is the child that she bears in October BIC? Is it any difference if Richard had died in March instead of divorcing her?

    What is done with sealings in the event that an ancestor is the child of a mother with no father known at all? (rape, seduction with seducer not recorded etc.)

    On another note, I had a coworker/friend in another job who had *zero* knowledge on his ancestors. He was given up at birth to the foster care system, the records were sealed and he was *never* adopted. (The state paid for his college though).

  120. Elisha on October 22, 2005 at 9:53 am

    “What is done with sealings in the event that an ancestor is the child of a mother with no father known at all? (rape, seduction with seducer not recorded etc.)”

    If you think about it, most of the world is in this category. In the 1830s and ’40s, when people thought the world was 6,000 years old and that the world was going to end in 100 years, it was easier to imagine doing temple work for “the chosen ones”.

    Now, in the 21st century church, when we insist that the church is for everyone (not just the “elect”) AND we know that the world is billions of years old, how realistic is it to believe that careful records were taken for each mama, papa and baby? Or even that such family units existed as a matter of course? I’d bet my life savings that the family as we know it today and so vehemently insist upon (nuclear family, same parents until death, 4+ kids) only exists for a tiny fraction of the LDS population, much less the world’s, much, much less the world population throughout the history of time.

    Randolph, I’d bet there are millions of cases like the one you describe for your co-worker. Even records were falsified, especially during Victorian times. No one wanted to admit their kid was conceived or born out of wedlock, and a LOT of back-alley stuff, abandonment of kids, etc went on to make sure it was kept secret.

  121. Elisha on October 22, 2005 at 10:03 am

    Does anyone know what percentage of the early church received temple ordinances? I know it wasn’t the entire body of saints, just the leadership and their families and friends…

    But back on topic, it seems really strange to say a single woman can’t be sealed to an adopted child, yet an irresponsible teen who married shotgun, divorced the guy the year after the baby was born can not only be “sealed” to that baby’s father, but is sealed to him until she is ready to be married to another person. The second woman can have all the “sealing blessings” yet some 40 year old unmarried lady can’t ever have those unless someone marries her and adopts her kid.

    When did the first principles of the gospel become flirting, dating and engagement? Really, unless some form of that happens, no one can be exalted…sounds so weird. But maybe it’s because I’m a single convert.

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