..By becoming pregnant without sexual intercourse?
By Sola Ogundipe & Sam Eyoboka
A fervent and committed Christian sister had been waiting and hoping, like any other normal girl, for a man to seek her hand in marriage but years after years no man was forthcoming.
She became desperate when it dawned on her that she was approaching the age of menopause when she would not be able to get pregnant even if she got married.
She then decided to help herself by going for artificial insemination in order to have a baby she could call her own. However, the Church was shocked and was considering disciplining her for getting pregnant without being married.
When the elders of the Church met and interviewed her, she told them that she had stayed and remained in the Church for several years and no man was ready to marry her and she was approaching the age of menopause. So, after reading some Christian medical journals on the issue, she decided on artificial insemination since she too wanted a child. She tendered both the medical journals and the medical documents to show that she had done the artificial insemination from a reputable hospital. She is therefore pregnant without committing fornication. This story gained grounds in the social media few weeks ago. We sought opinions of experts and the clergy.
By submitting to artificial insemination, and getting pregnant without being married to a man, has the sister committed sin and does she deserve to be punished? Shouldn’t she have had faith and trusted in the will of God by waiting for Mr Right so that nature could take its course according to the dictates of holy matrimony? Did she run foul of the law and break any of God’s commandments? Or did she err on the side of caution? These questions are more subjective than objective, and opinions differ.
In the first place, what is sin? Sin is a yardstick for believers who are called to change and live a righteous life. It is when the braking of the laws of God. The Scriptures teach that sin is transgression of the law. Sin has to do with breaking God’s law, according to Apostle John in I John 3:4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Morally, sin is not doing what is good, that is, behaving badly. Spiritually, sin is not having faith (“… for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
It is common knowledge that the origin of human life has context in marriage and in the family where it is initiated through an act that expresses reciprocal love between a man and a woman. Traditionally, the position of the Church is that procreation is sacred and every child must be conceived and born as fruit of marriage.
This is well taken, however, God’s capability of shutting up or opening the wombs of women as He wishes is not in doubt according to Exodus 23:26 and Deuteronomy 7:14. From Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac to Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, who conceived John the Baptist, Scripture is replete with women who longed for the fruit of the womb. Several of these women who though initially childless were eventually fruitful when God visited them. However, unlike the instant case, they were all married women who prayed consistently until they conceived naturally.
Rebecca prayed and conceived after 20 years of fruitlessness and was blessed with twins – Jacob and Esau. Rachael also prayed and was rewarded with Joseph and Benjamin. Hannah, the second wife of Elkanah the Ephraimite prayed so fervently for a child and made a covenant with God to heal her womb, God answered her prayers, she gave birth to Samuel, and she kept her promise to give the child back to the Lord.
There have been issues with all forms of assisted reproductive techniques since the birth of Louise Brown – the first child conceived through In Vitro Fertilisation, IVF, in 1978 in the United Kingdom. For better or worse, the intention behind artificial insemination, clinically known as Intrauterine Insemination or IUI, is noble.
Practised all over the world, IUI (like IVF) has never been readily or fully accepted within certain religious circles because it is perceived as separating the act of marital union from the production of children. The common argument is that artificial insemination involves an element of “manufacture” or “artificial” that is unnatural and has thus been consistently criticised in certain religious circles.
When it comes to getting pregnant, women are often in the spotlight. Luckily for those struggling with getting pregnant naturally today, science has stepped up and there are many ways to get a boost in the process. Artificial insemination, which is also called intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a life saver for some women.
Insemination is of two types – natural and artificial. Natural insemination comes about through having sex, whereas artificial insemination is inserting sperm inside the cervix, either at home or in a clinic.
The basic principle behind artificial insemination is that it “helps” the sperm in reaching the egg. A woman may use her own eggs or donor eggs as well as donor sperm. In natural conception, the semen is ejaculated into the vagina and the sperm, which are contained in the semen, swim through the uterus and then into the fallopian tubes where they meet the egg. There are several reasons that, even if everything seems to be in the right place, it still may yield unsuccessful results.
The sister obviously realised in good time she was close to the end of her fertility life. Whether out of desperation or frustration, she opted for artificial insemination and probably didn’t even know if she was fertile or not, she only just took a chance and it paid off. That was faith.
Although sexual intercourse is very simple, straightforward and almost foolproof in getting the semen inside the woman exactly where it needs to be, artificial insemination places sperm into a woman’s uterus, cervix or fallopian tubes. The concept of artificial insemination was originally used for livestock and since then it has been adapted to assist in human reproduction. It is one of several types of fertility options and is the cheapest and less-invasive of the methods.
Regardless of whether donor sperm is used or the sperm comes from a partner, the artificial insemination process is the same. Intrauterine insemination is one of the most popular forms of artificial insemination processes offered by fertility clinics and reproductive specialists. It also has the highest success rate. The procedure is non-invasive and painless. It is also very close to the natural method of reproduction.
A child conceived in the bedroom is the same as the one conceived anywhere else, only the processes differ. The former is conceived through sexual intercourse, while the latter is conceived without any form of sexual relations. The sister opted for the most morally and ethically correct option -artificial insemination – which if done correctly, can be just as effective but without the inconveniences of sexual intercourse.
However, pastors who spoke on the issue have different views. Some did not see anything wrong with what the sister did while others believed she lacked faith and did not trust her God till the end.
The lady should sue the church —Rev. Daramola
A parish priest with Methodist Church Nigeria, Rev. Dapo Daramola said: “She has not committed any sin. What she did is what a normal couple would do. What if the husband is not functional and the wife’s egg is good and they agreed on the choice of artificial insemination? Would you say the couple sinned?
What I am saying is if a couple got married and are finding it difficult to make babies and go to the hospital where they discover that the man’s sperm is weak, or infertile and they agree to opt for artificial insemination and the baby is incubated in the woman’s body with the motherly affection but the man has no contribution beyond paying for the process.
So, are you saying that the couple has sinned? No! No sin has been committed.
The lady under reference who has not yielded her body to fornication or adultery cannot be condemned here…it’s not her fault that a suitor has not come her way. If she has not done anything to push men away, deliberately or otherwise, then she should not be condemned. What if she had gone to adopt a baby, would that be regarded as a sin? What is the difference?
It’s unfortunate, because Christianity has been taken to a judgemental level. I have preached it several times that a lot of prejudices, sentiments have crept into the church that many now run on the whims and caprices of the founders or general overseers who do what they do today. It’s not in line with the Word of God, but it’s in line with what the pastor says.
In this case, all the lady needs to do to set a precedence is to take the elders of the church to court. In fact that’s what I will advise: take the pastorate to court. Sue them and ask why they should excommunicate or reprimand her when she has not committed any sin. She should demand why they wanted to push her out of the church where she found her faith just because of what she did. Those kind of things should be tested in the law court even if she would eventually leave the church except they can produce a church document that suggest that what she has done is sin or quote a portion in the scriptures upon which their opinion was based. And then, how was Jesus born? Many of the writers who wrote the New Testament were not even married, only a few of them were married.
Again, we are unlucky because unlike the laws of the land which are subject to the interpretations of legal minds such as lawyers and judges, our own is subject to the Holy Spirit or divine interpretation. But, seriously the best thing for this lady is to test it in court but the fundamental basis for this argument is that Jesus was born in like manner. So what will any pastor now say that this woman has done to warrant reprimand?
The Orthodox Church are closing their doors against sinners because of many prejudices. The church of God is not a place of judgement or condemnation but a place of welcome to all sinners because it was established for sinners and when we push sinners from the church who will inhabit the place? That was the argument of the Catholic pontiff when he said the Church of God is home to sinners and not a place of saints. So if you are pushing those who have committed an abomination out, who did Christ die for?
It’s a sin—Rev. Dziggau
Immediate past president of the HEKAN Church and former chairman of TEKAN/ECWA Bloc of CAN, Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau is of the opinion that it’s not compulsory for every woman to have children. “She didn’t marry and if that is how she will end it, that will not stop her from going to heaven. If from the beginning of her life, no man ever came to ask for her hand in marriage, maybe the problem of not getting married was from her and if this is a technical way of having children, I don’t think it’s proper. The church is right by telling her no. In fact I will support that church to reprimand her.
If there’s a problem between a man and his wife and they have difficulty in having children, both of them can agree to go for artificial method. But in this case, the lady is single. That menopause is nothing, she will just reach it and remain like that and that would have been better instead of going for an artificial child.
The child will one day ask the mother, ‘who is my father?’ and she will continue lying that the father has died. So it’s not good, the church is right. I support that church completely. It’s a sin in the sense that God will not be pleased because this artificial method is unusual.
She should wait on the Lord —Rev. Akin-John
The founder of Church Growth International Ministries, Dr. Francis Bola Akin-John, in his response to the poser, said: “In the true sense of the word, if you rely on what the Bible teaches, she should have exercised her faith to wait for a husband. It’s there in the bible. Sarah had passed menopause. There’s even a lady now who just gave birth, she acts for Mount Zion movies, she acted in the movie “Ayanmatanga”. She married at 51 while husband was 52, I know her personally. In fact she had even lost hope. They were thinking of adopting children when God just answered her. So menopause is not an issue with God. In the instant case, the lady lost faith in waiting for God to do it. That was why she used her own human wisdom to do artificial insemination.
If she’s not a worker or leader in the church, the church should just keep quiet. If she’s a leader or a worker in the church, the church should address the issue squarely because she can serve as a bad example. But it’s her personal decision, there’s nothing we can do against that. The church should be firm.
We don’t support or encourage that. And if she’s an officer, she should go on discipline, not against the child, but against that practice. We won’t throw away the baby with the bath water but against that practice. That’s what I would do if I were a pastor of such a woman”.When asked if he could dedicate the baby as the lady’s pastor, he said,
“I have nothing against the baby. If she invites me, I will go there with one or two persons, in a low key, I will dedicate the baby. I have nothing against the baby, it’s her action. I will say that I condemn her action, I don’t support that action, I believe we should put our faith in God but at the same time I have nothing against the baby, I can dedicate the baby. It’s part of the failure of the church to teach about adoption, that couples who have been childless for years could adopt children. It’s biblical but our African culture puts so much emphasis on having our own children.
Let’s pray she delivers safely — Monsignor Osu
Director of Social Communications at Lagos Catholic Archdiocese, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu said: “The first thing to consider is for the baby to come down safely. Normally the church does not support artificial insemination because it’s assumed that a third party is involved in a process restricted for just two members of the union, though it could be an arrangement between the man and his wife. But at this stage now, we will advise and pray that the woman should put to bed safely before any other thing. But some of our priests or pastors should give consideration to anything that may jeopardise the lady’s life.
The woman should come first because a life is involved here. When you get to the bridge, you then cross. The church authority must not do anything that may truncate the dream of the lady becoming a mother. What is her sin? They should leave her to God.
Let’s be prayerful and leave the judgement to God. We should do everything not to encourage irresponsibility. If it’s a public sin, the church has a way of dealing with it. Is the church a church of saints? Let the baby come. The God we are serving is a merciful God. The lady should not be encouraged to go and commit any abominable sin as a result of pressure from people who are sinless.
I don’t condemn her—Femi Ogunleye, RCCG member
Chief Executive Officer of Dynamic Nifty International Research Agency, Mr. Femi Ogunleye, an unordained worker with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, had this to say: “The woman has not committed any sin as far as I am concerned. To me, she has not committed any infraction but to others what she has done may be counted as sin in accordance with her church doctrine. They cannot say she has sinned against God, but they can claim that the lady has fallen short of the church’s doctrine.
The church may move against her because they believe she has committed sin, but she could leave and go to another church where she will be welcomed with both arms because the Church of God is home to people who are broken and not holy persons.
Is it because we are in Nigeria, how many of the people in the Western world who engage in these things are regarded as sinners? For as long as she can take care of the baby or babies, there is no issue. I have never read in the Bible that what she did is against any statutes in the Holy Scripture except for the case of Mary who gave birth to Jesus without a physical contact with any man, but that is different because hers was divinely ordered.
But in this case, she knows what she did, the only thing is that nobody can stand up to say this is the man whose sperm was used for the artificial insemination.
I can not condemn such a woman because the odds were against her. She is entitled to live her normal life so long as she can single handedly raise the child or children when they arrive. Let no man condemn her. It’s only her conscience that will judge her for whatever she has done.