Marriage, Procreation and Infertility: Reflections on Genesis -- By: K. T. Magnuson

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 04:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: Marriage, Procreation and Infertility: Reflections on Genesis
Author: K. T. Magnuson

Marriage, Procreation and Infertility:
Reflections on Genesis1

K. T. Magnuson

Kenneth Magnuson is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics and Theology from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Dr. Magnuson also served as a professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary previous to his appointment at Southern.


“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:27–28a).2

I am an akarah—a barren woman. After three years of the latest modern tests and drugs, of artificial inseminations (using my husband’s sperm), of long hours in doctor’s offices, of humiliating tests and frustrated hopes, and of moments of despair, I am still a barren woman. My husband is healthy; the problem is mine. We have used much of our savings, all of our patience. We have a serious operation to go that gives us a slight chance but may cause a serious risk to my health … so I sit in the sanctuary as I hear the words … P’ru ur’vu. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply has been given again to our people … I feel the pain of emptiness, the despair of wanting to carry out the mitzvah [commandment] and not being able.3

The desire to have a child, and the common expectation of having children, is confronted by the painful experience of infertility for almost 1 out of every 6 married couples, or as many as five million couples of childbearing age in the United States.4 In our day of technological advances in medicine, the response to this problem has been the development of a myriad of ways to overcome infertility in the hopes of having a child. Since 1978, when the first child was born by means of in vitro fertilization (IVF), we have been introduced to such procedures as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), tubal embryo transfer (TET), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and cryopreservation, and other techniques to treat the problem of infertility.

Indeed, the proliferation of techniques to overcome infertility has been so rapid that it has been difficult to ...

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