Barren – A Look at Infertility

Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources

Barren: not reproducing as incapable of producing offspring

A “desire” is not, in and of itself, wrong. When, however, someone is willing to commit sin in order to fulfill a desire, that desire then becomes lust. Lusting is forbidden in God’s commandments for our lives. The Apostle Paul “desired to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). It was not sinful to have that desire. To commit suicide for that blessing is sinful (Deuteronomy 32:39).

It is not a sin for the childless couple to want a child (i.e. to have what they cannot have naturally). In the English language, these people are called “barren.” When used in the Bible, however, the original Hebrew uses at least three different words to describe the circumstance of having no children. There are those whose children lived but then died (Leviticus 26:22; Deuteronomy 32:35). Coincidentally, the word used to describe living children now dead is the same word used to describe a miscarriage. A second word is used in the Hebrew to indicate a woman (or a man) who simply does not have children (Genesis 15:2; Jeremiah 22:30). The word used does not attach any biological reason for childlessness. It just notes that he or she is without children. There is yet another word, however, which is closely aligned with sterility, the inability to produce children (Genesis 11:30; Judges 13:2; Job 24:21).

There are options for the childless. Adoption is often the first to come to mind. While the United States has a limited number of children available for adoption, the prospects of adopting an orphaned child from overseas are bright, albeit expensive. Many couples long for biological offspring. Is that possible with today’s Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) option? The answer is found not in the desire for children but in the desire to please God. ART raises important questions:

  1. Does the ART option recognize life existing at conception (cf. Psalm 51:5)?
  2. Does the ART option violate the prohibition to take human life (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 32:39)?
  3. Do the expense and the emotional and physical efforts involved compromise the primary calling to glorify God (Luke 12:31; 1 Corinthians 10:31)?
  4. Does the pursuit of this option reflect selfishness or a desire to love God and others ahead of ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39; Philippians 2:3)?

ART options can be complex. Getting the facts help, and some answers will be obvious. Other answers remain difficult. For that reason, seek out the objectivity of another Christian genuinely devoted to God. Listen carefully to such a person so that a desire to have a child does not become a lust, where gain is realized only by compromising God’s will for right living. A couple seeking a child through an ART option must always remain focused on the things of God, the will of God, and their lives devoted first to God. A fellow Christian, steeped in the knowledge of God’s Word, is a valuable asset in making such decisions. In the end, the question will remain whether God intends that a couple remain childless for life or only for a time. Whatever the answer, hearts devoted to God find solace in knowing His will is always good and works for the good of all who love Him.


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