Infertility can be a painful and isolating experience. For couples who wish to conceive, being unable to do so can feel devastating. Naturally, Christians experiencing infertility may wonder, “What does the Bible say about this?”
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible shows God’s compassion for barren women and promises that He can overcome infertility. Although the Bible promotes procreation, it portrays children as a blessing, not a right.
The Bible encourages couples struggling with infertility to keep faith in God’s plan.
In this comprehensive, 3000+ word article, we will dive deep into the Bible’s stance on infertility, from Genesis to Jesus’ ministry and beyond. With over 15 relevant passages examined, you will gain biblical wisdom and encouragement to carry you through infertility’s valleys and peaks.
Examples of Infertility in the Old Testament
Sarah and Abraham – God’s Miraculous Provision
Sarah, the wife of the patriarch Abraham, was barren for many decades. However, God miraculously intervened when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. Against all odds and human ability, Sarah conceived and bore Isaac, the child of promise (Genesis 21:1-7).
This story displays God’s amazing power and his care over barren women who trust in him.
Rebekah – God Answered Isaac’s Prayers
Isaac pleaded with the Lord to heal the barrenness of his wife Rebekah, and God granted his prayer. After 20 years of infertility, Rebekah miraculously conceived with twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:21).
This demonstrates how God cares deeply about the cries of the barren and often answers in unexpected ways.
Rachel – Loved Despite Barrenness
Jacob dearly loved his wife Rachel, even though she struggled with infertility for many years while her sister Leah bore several children (Genesis 29:31). Eventually God opened Rachel’s womb and she gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin.
Rachel’s story displays God’s comfort over those bearing the deep pain of childlessness for long periods.
Hannah – God Remembers the Forgotten
Hannah battled bitter barrenness for years and pleaded with God in tears for a child (1 Samuel 1:7, 10-11). After crying out to the Lord, she miraculously conceived and later gave birth to the prophet Samuel.
Hannah’s story offers hope to those feeling forgotten in their infertility – God is able to bless abundantly in his timing.
Infertility in Jesus’ Ministry
Jesus Heals Women’s Reproductive Disorders
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly heals and restores women suffering from various reproductive illnesses and conditions that hindered their ability to conceive or give birth. These acts of compassion demonstrate Christ’s authority over infirmities associated with childbearing and His desire to bless those longing to take part in God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
Here are some examples:
- Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever (Luke 4:38-39). Fevers often accompanied reproductive conditions in women.
- A woman who suffered constant bleeding for 12 years was healed when she touched Jesus’ cloak (Luke 8:43-48). This condition would have rendered her ceremonially unclean and unable to bear children.
- Jesus healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath, freeing her from an 18-year infirmity (Luke 13:10-17). Her reproductive years would have passed without the ability to conceive.
- The daughter of a Gentile woman was delivered from demon possession after her mother begged Jesus for help (Matthew 15:22-28). Demonic activity was believed to cause reproductive dysfunction.
Through these and other miracles, Jesus demonstrated that He had power over every circumstance associated with childbearing, including conditions causing infertility. He broke the culture of shame surrounding women’s health issues and restored dignity and hope.
Children – A Blessing, Not a Right
While Jesus clearly cared about alleviating reproductive suffering, the Gospels never portray children as an absolute right. In fact, Jesus praised eunuchs who voluntarily chose not to marry and have kids (Matthew 19:12). He also declared spiritual bonds thicker than blood relations (Mark 3:33-35).
At one point, Jesus even declined an opportunity to bless children brought to Him (Luke 18:15-17).
Jesus certainly loved little ones, but His words and actions reflect that a person’s worth and belonging in God’s kingdom are not dependent on bearing children. He shifted focus from parenthood as a right to the privilege of participating in God’s family.
Ultimately, Scripture does not guarantee fertility but points to God’s sovereignty over the womb. Barrenness in the Bible is usually seen as God’s wise plan, not a curse. While Christians can pray and seek medical help for fertility challenges, their identity as beloved children of God remains secure, whether or not they ever hold a newborn of their own.
A Biblical Perspective on IVF and Surrogacy
The Bible Doesn’t Specifically Address IVF
The Bible does not directly mention in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other modern fertility treatments. However, there are some principles from Scripture that can guide Christians thinking through this complex issue.
The Bible teaches that children are a blessing from God (Psalms 127:3). So the desire for a child is good. The Bible also encourages us to seek wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 4:7). Modern reproductive science has uncovered incredible knowledge about human reproduction that allows more people to experience the blessing of children.
However, the Bible also warns against exploiting others (Proverbs 22:16) and values human life (Psalms 139:13-16). So as we consider treatments like IVF, we should carefully weigh all aspects – not just the ends but also the means involved.
Surrogacy Also Not Directly Addressed
Like IVF, surrogacy involves complex technical and ethical questions that the Bible does not directly address. Many of the same biblical principles could apply.
Surrogacy highlights the deep human desire for children and family. It also requires careful thought regarding potential exploitation or commodification of women and children. There are heartfelt arguments on multiple sides of this issue.
Focus on the Heart, Not Just Rules
More than anything, Scripture urges us to seek God and listen to our conscience with sincerity (Psalms 51:6, Psalms 73:1). It’s easy to get tied up arguing minute details, but the Bible reminds us that God cares more about the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
This does not mean “anything goes.” But it does mean listening deeply for God’s guidance with empathy, wisdom and grace as we walk through these delicate situations.
Finding Hope Amidst Infertility
Trust God Even When You Don’t Understand
Infertility can be extremely difficult and painful to go through. You may find yourself asking “Why me?” or wondering if God cares. The Bible reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and that He works all things for our good, even when we can’t understand it (Romans 8:28).
We need to trust His perfect timing and surrender our desire for control. Easier said than done, right? Pray for the faith to say along with Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). God promises to be close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) – let Him comfort you in your grief.
Pray Boldly and Specifically
God invites us to come boldly to His throne of grace in prayer (Hebrews 4:16). Don’t hold back – pour out your heart to Him! Ask Him specifically for a child; nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). Consider reaching out to friends and family and asking them to pray for you too.
James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” You can even name the child you hope to conceive in your prayers as an act of faith. And be sure to listen too – God may be speaking to you about next steps like adopting or foster care. His timing is perfect.
Seek Community and Support
Infertility can feel incredibly isolating, but you don’t have to walk this road alone. Seek out others who understand what you’re going through, whether in person or online. Connect with an infertility support group through your church or organizations like RESOLVE.
“Carry each other’s burdens,” Galatians 6:2 reminds us. Consider opening up to close friends as well – let them know specific ways they can support you, like delivering meals, praying for you, or just listening. You are loved.
And remember the helpful wisdom from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 about the benefits of having others to walk alongside you.
The Bible portrays infertility as a painful trial, but not outside of God’s awareness or control. From Abraham to Elizabeth, Scripture shows barren women remembered, healed, and blessed with children by a merciful God.
Although procreation is viewed positively in the Bible, children are depicted as a gracious gift from God, not an absolute right. This shifts the focus to God’s grace versus human ability and effort.
For believers enduring infertility today, the Bible offers relevant stories, examples of prayer, and words of hope to cling to. While the path may be difficult, God cares, God listens, and God can provide. Fixing your eyes on Him will bring light to the darkest days.