Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore says there are problems that come with surrogacy and suggests that Christians should instead turn to adoption or foster care when faced with infertility.
Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a Gospel Coalition video that he often receives questions from Christians trying to think through issues of surrogacy.
“I think one of the reasons why evangelical Christians are sometimes confused about this is because leaders or pastors will say, ‘There’s no passage of Scripture that speaks directly to issues of surrogacy,’” he said.
While that’s true, it’s important to have a “whole biblical approach’ to human dignity, child-bearing, and family, Moore explained.
“We also need to understand that often the reason people are drawn to surrogacy is that we haven’t had very good or extensive teaching about infertility,” he continued. “Often, there will be couples who are going through the pain and heartbreak of infertility and they don’t hear those sorts of issues being addressed. Maybe, in a best-case scenario, there’s an infertility support group, but that’s all.”
When that happens, the “only people that they actually have talking to them with compassion or with direction are those who have a financial stake in moving toward some of these extreme reproductive technologies."
The father of five went on to highlight why surrogacy should be avoided by Christians, the first being that it "severs the one-flesh union that God has designed as being the place where children are born."
“It’s what turns children into a product or commodity rather than a gift. And I think that really ought to be significant for us,” he explained.
Moore argued that surrogacy also exploits people — particularly the poor in third-world countries.
“One can look around and see what’s happening all around the world where women in India, for instance, and often in extreme poverty are being driven into surrogacy arrangements,” he said.
In the developed world, there are people who arrange surrogacy contracts without understanding the “sort of heartbreak that’s going to come with bearing a child that one has no legal claim to at all,” he continued.
A better answer to infertility and to the heartbreak that comes along with it is adoption and foster care rather than surrogacy, Moore concluded.
National statistics show that surrogacy is on the rise in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control the number of gestational carrier cycles has increased from 727 in 1999 to 3,432 in 2013. Statistics from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reveal that during this period, gestational carrier cycles resulted in 13,380 deliveries with a total of 18,400 infants being born.
Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, recently told The Christian Post that despite their positive portrayal in popular culture, surrogate arrangements are fraught with all kinds of abuses and exploit both surrogate mothers and intended parents.
"We don't have a sort of reverence, if you will, for the dignity of the human body," she said. "We see it as a vehicle, an instrument that we can share, loan out, and let other people borrow ... I think our laws, our public policies, our faithful sensibilities should be to protect a young mother's health and well-being, not exploit her.”
Lahl lamented that the Church seems to be “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to surrogacy and infertility — even though infertility issues frequently appear in the Bible.
"[Christians] have full permission to speak about how children come into the world. They are gifts, they are blessings," she said, adding that most people today operate with "shallow theological thinking on the most profound matters of making human life."
"Make no mistake, once we move into the laboratory, we are making children,” she cautioned. “They are not begotten, they are made. They are manufactured.”