SBC opens the conversation: As believers in Christ, where do we stand on IVF?

SBC opens the conversation: As believers in Christ, where do we stand on IVF?

Messengers raise their ballots in support of a motion put up for vote during a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

SBC opens the conversation: As believers in Christ, where do we stand on IVF?

The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Indianapolis this week, passed a resolution discouraging in vitro fertilization as a method to help infertile couples.

"On the Ethical Realities of Reproductive Technologies and the Dignity of the Human Embryo" acknowledges the pain of infertility for married couples who desire to have children; recognizes that regardless of the circumstances of their conception, all children are a gift from the Lord; and encourages Southern Baptists to promote adoption as an alternative to IVF.

Jason Thacker is an advisor to the SBC Resolutions Committee. He told AFN the committee tried to make the resolution as thoughtful as possible.

Thacker, Jason Thacker

"This is a deeply personal issue. Infertility is a widespread issue," he shared. "One in five to one in six couples deal with that – and so that's one of the reasons this committee wanted to speak with a pastoral tone, a careful tone."

The resolution also argues that IVF "most often engages in the destruction of embryonic human life"; laments that most of the estimated 1.0-1.5 million human embryos currently stored in cryogenic freezers are "unquestionably destined for eventual destruction"; and urges Southern Baptists to advocate for governmental restraints on "actions inconsistent with the dignity and value of every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., who introduced the resolution on Monday, urged those who believe life begins at conception to oppose IVF. The process as currently practiced, he stated, is not only "the alienation of reproduction from the conjugal setting," but also "an engineered system whereby multiple embryos are created only for most of them, assuredly, to be destroyed."

Like Mohler, Thacker has grave ethical concerns with essentially making unborn human beings commodities to be bought and sold – among them: "highlighting the freezing process, the cryogenic process, many of the abnormalities, some of the genetic testing, some of the experimentation, also the overabundance or the overgeneration of human embryos."

And Thacker claims pro-lifers are especially troubled by the number of human embryos that are generated for each patient. "Having these embryos generated – especially the abundance of [them], often with no plan to implant those – is something that we see is especially morally pertinent to this conversation."

Committee chair Kristen Furguson says the resolution was the first pass at this difficult issue. The committee's goal, she says, was "to open the conversation for the messengers* and allow them to begin to make statements."

Responding to an online poll, readers of an earlier AFN story overwhelmingly chose adoption as the most favored alternative to IVF for followers of Christ. Natural fertility treatments and foster care were also top choices in the poll.

* "Messengers" are church delegates who are sent to the SBC annual meeting to discuss and vote on various resolutions set before the denomination.