Infertility in the Church

Quite a few couples at the church where I pastor have welcomed newborns into their family over the past few months, and there are more on the way in the coming months. It’s a joyful season as these families and our church community give thanks to God for these children.

But I know that amidst the numerous pregnancies, there are couples mourning because they are struggling to conceive, often after trying for over a year. I know they long to celebrate with their friends, but they also struggle to shake feelings of jealousy, anger, and even bitterness. I remember when my wife and I waited for over a year before she could get pregnant, and it was one of the hardest seasons of my life. Month after month, we experienced hope as my wife analyzed how she was feeling only to experience disappointment once again. And I sense that this struggle is often more difficult for women who can sometimes feel alienated from or betrayed by their own bodies. Perhaps this is part of the curse of Genesis 3:16.

The difficulty of infertility makes thinking carefully about modern treatments especially complicated. Many Christians don’t know that some of the medical capabilities we possess to help couples conceive can entail moral problems with which Christians cannot be comfortable. As a pastor, part of my job is to teach, instruct, and guide people to be faithful in suffering, but sometimes, by the time we hear a couple is struggling with infertility, steps are already being taken that are morally problematic.

I can’t and shouldn’t try to tackle all of these in a blog post, but today I came across a helpful little video on The Gospel Coalition blog of a discussion with bioethicist Dr. Megan Best on infertility (find her book on the subject here). I think it’s a helpful video for those struggling with infertility and all of us seeking to care for and walk with the heartbroken in our midst.

I remember that while my wife and I struggled with infertility, I found hope in God’s promise to barren Israel in Isaiah 54:1-3 and to eunuchs in Isaiah 56:4-5 (ESV):

[54:1] “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD.
[2] “Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
[3] For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.

[56:4] For thus says the LORD:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
[5] I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

These verses don’t magically make infertility easy, but they do point us to the faithfulness of God to bring comfort to those who mourn and to bring greater joy to those who persevere in the midst of disappointment.

You can find the blog post on TGC here.