Christianity and IVF

       Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book "Angels drink milk". 

 Natasha's husband was an Orthodox, religious man who regularly attended Sunday services at the Church of the Protection of the Holy Virgin in their small provincial town. It was located on the outskirts, on the territory of an old cemetery, the interior of the Church had always been homely, there were relatively few parishioners. Natasha inwardly did not accept the Church as "the House of God on Earth", but still sometimes she went with her husband to celebrations, confessed and took communion[1]. During the decision-making period on IVF necessity Natasha went to confession to one of the priests of the Church.

    "Father, we have a difficult life situation in our family."

    "What is it, my daughter?"

    "We are diagnosed with infertility… The age is already critical…They offer a procedure of artificial insemination. There is no other option. Have you ever heard of it?"

    "As a matter of fact, yes, I heard of it. But I personally and the Russian Orthodox Church disapprove it."

    "Why?"

    "This is against the laws of God. Interference of third parties in the sacrament of Conception is inadmissible according to Canon law. If you can't give birth yourself, take the child from an orphanage and don't suffer. If God is against you having children, you will never have them!"

    Natasha shuddered at these words.

    "But we are leading a righteous life and we want to give birth to our own children and we do not want to "take on" the sins of those people who abandoned their children!"

    "I understand all this, but it is the will of God, and I am only his messenger on Earth, and I convey his words to you."

    "So you won't give your husband and me your blessing for this method of treatment?"

    "Unfortunately, no!" the priest interrupted the conversation rudely.

    Natasha, puzzled, turned and walked away from the priest, receiving neither the blessing nor the absolution of her past sins. Her legs trembled and in her resentment she could hardly speak, but she restrained herself and did not cry. She went to the icon "Theotokos of Tikhvin"[2] To the mother of God and began to pray:

    "Sacred Virgin, Tsarina Heavenly! Please tell us what I and husband should do? Should we tempt fate and achieve conception with the help of medicine or adopt someone else's baby?"

    For a second, Natasha thought she saw the mother of God lift the Baby in her arms and shown it to her. "What did that mean?" a thought flashed through her mind. Her thoughts were swirling! Wait, does it mean that the Blessed Virgin was carrying in the womb a baby that was not hers, but a child from the Father! But all her life she thought of him as of her own son! And her husband, Joseph, knew that the Child was not of his blood, but had accepted it as his own! Maybe this was a sign that Natasha needed to take a baby from an orphanage? But on the other hand, the Blessed Virgin herself carried and gave birth to a child who didn't share her blood.

    "This story is similar to a modern surrogate motherhood or a program for using donor material, may the adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church forgive me!" Natasha thought suddenly. At the moment the thought flashed in her mind, it seemed to her that Virgin Mary smiled. In a certain sense one may think that Virgin Mary in some ways was the prototype of the surrogate mother for the divine child. This thought made Natasha feel terribly awkward and ashamed, but on the other hand, she somehow found an excuse for her natural desire to give birth to her baby. There were more of these thoughts to come, and they were swirling in her head at a breakneck speed:

    "Why did Mary and Joseph have no children afterwards?"

    "Maybe they also had conceiving problems?"

    "Why didn't they ask God to give them more children?"

    "Wasn't there a problem of infertility before?"

    She felt uneasy at such thoughts as she knew that it was a blasphemy. She knelt quietly, closed her eyes, and prayed sincerely in front of the icon of a Holy Virgin for sending her the only correct solution. In one moment of the prayer, it seemed to her that an incredibly bright light had been shed upon her, as if an invisible hand had laid on her head and absolved all her sins and blessed her for incredible feats for the sake of Life. She rose from her knees, as if enlightened, and thanked the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ from the bottom of her heart and with reverence went to the exit of the church. Her husband was waiting for her at the exit.

    "What did father Mikhail say? Did he give us his blessing for the treatment?"

    "Yes, he said that Our baby is already waiting and the Lord blesses us through him," that was Natasha's "white lie."

    Her husband trusted her words more than he trusted himself and, of course, he did not dare ask the priest again.



[1]Confession and communion are rituals obligatory for a believing Christian in the Russian Orthodox Church.

[2]The Theotokos of Tikhvin is one of the most celebrated Orthodox Christian icons. It is said to be one of the icons written by St. Luke the Evangelist.

Christianity and IVF

          Dear readers, I continue to introduce you to excerpts from my book  "Angels drink milk".     Natasha's husband was a...