New Names for Right and Wrong
There’s a debate right now on the Internet, inspired by the comments of this woman, recommending a maximum age that a woman be allowed to have a baby. Or rather a non-debate, because the fact is that biology has all ready determined that some women will be too old to have a child. So what’s to debate?
This kind of phoney, fuzzy thinking debate is part of what drove me from “progressivism” and into the arms of the Church. Ms. Tollefsen decided to have IVF at the age of 57, with her male partner and a donor egg. In other words, she “gestated” the biological child of her partner and another woman. Sort of the high-tech version of what Sarah cooked up when she sent Abraham into Hagar’s tent. Maybe that should be the litmus test for new technologies — whether or not we would balk at using the “low-tech” version of the procedure.
So, if desperate, childless women have been resorting to this kind of thing for thousands of years, I ask again: Why are we calling it a debate? Most women, when they read Genesis 16, know that it is wrong. Yes, we sympathize with with Sarah’s plight, and no, we don’t hate Hagar and Abraham’s child, Ishmael, but the moral of the story is clear. This was never God’s plan. When Hagar and Ishmael are finally driven out, in Genesis 21, it’s not surprising. The story is foreshadowed to end badly.
The last I checked, the modern debate had descended into “selfish woman” versus “you go girl!” versus “who can really know what’s right or wrong, anyway?” This misses the point entirely. So does the personal situation of Ms. Tollefsen. As to her age, many grandmothers (including my own) raise their grandchildren with no problem, and a lack of funds has never been a impediment to a happy family. I also do not want to minimize the suffering of those who are unable to have the children they so desperately crave. But the main issue remains. Just because we figured out a new way to do something, doesn’t make it an entirely new situation morally. Natural law still applies. Human nature is still human nature. It is not right for a married couple who want children, to engineer a child with a third woman. Especially if we want to turn around and deny that child’s claim to his or her biological mother.
In Genesis, everything is fine for a while. Until Isaac is born. Then Sarah stops calling Ishmael “Abraham’s son”, and he becomes “that woman’s boy.” The scales fall from her eyes, and she allows, sadly, her heart to harden. And a similar realization has occurred to Ms. Tollefsen: that she was very misguided in her decision to bear that little girl. Just because modern man has come up with new language and tidier methods, doesn’t mean we get to come up with a new and tidier right and wrong.