The Mailbag: She’s single and pregnant by IVF. How do I respond?

In our church, there is a single Christian lady in her mid 30’s who has no man in her life, who got pregnant through IVF. She is not lesbian. She wanted desperately to have a baby and didn’t want to wait for the adoption process so got pregnant by IVF. After 6 tries, she was successful and is now 7 months along and proud of her baby “bump”.

Our Pastor is new to our congregation and may not be aware of how this lady became pregnant.

I as a part of the congregation I am not sure how to handle this process or speak to her about it after the fact.

Some other ladies her own age are so excited for her and congratulating her etc. What she has done is not biblical. She has posted her whole process of getting pregnant on Facebook, which I also don’t agree with. She has received so many words of encouragement and congratulations.

How should I deal with this now that it has already happened? If they organize a baby shower – I will not attend but want to be Christianly about this. Can you give me some ideas of what to say?

When you’re invited, graciously say, “Thank you for the invitation, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it.”. Period. That’s all that needs to be said. Let me explain why.

First, hear me when I say I completely agree with you that what this woman did was selfish and ungodly. We don’t bear children to please ourselves, achieve a goal, or self-actualize, especially when we intentionally create a situation in which a child will not have a father. There’s a reason God set the family up the way He did – marriage first, then children, with a mother and a father in the home – because that is what is best for us and what brings Him the most glory.1 What this lady did was to deliberately rebel against God’s design for the family, one of His two bedrock institutions (the other being the church).

Now all of that being said, and knowing that I’m on your side, I need to say something that might not be easy to hear. Even though I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, your email comes across to me – a disinterested party to the situation, and someone who agrees with you – as dripping with judgment and potential gossip. That’s why I think you should simply and politely decline the invitation to the shower and say no more. Because if your email comes across to me that way, imagine how anything you have to say about this situation is going to come across to this woman, her friends, your church, or your pastor.

Our Pastor is new to our congregation and may not be aware of how this lady became pregnant.

You don’t need to be the one to inform him unless he asks you point blank, “How did this woman get pregnant?”. And believe me, if he’s been there longer than a week or two, some talebearer in the church has already told him and he knows.

I as a part of the congregation I am not sure how to handle this process or speak to her about it after the fact…How should I deal with this now that it has already happened?

There is no “process” for you to “handle” as a member of the congregation, and there is nothing you need to say to her about it after the fact, unless she personally comes to you and asks you for your input on what she did. Had she asked for your advice and wisdom while she was considering IVF, or even after attempts 1-6, it would have been fine for you to counsel her against it at that point, but at this point, she can’t go back in time and undo what she did, and it sounds like she’s not asking for your advice.

The way you should deal with this now that it’s already happened is to love her and be kind to her. And if you find that difficult, ask God to help you love her and be kind to her, the same way Jesus loved and was kind to sinners. Something I often pray is, “Lord, please help me see people the way You see them, think about people the way You think about them, and love them the way You love them.”. I’m not very good at doing those things, but God is, and He helps me.

You should also bear in mind – another potential “ouch” here, sorry – that if you are, indeed, harboring judgment or disdain for this woman in your heart, or nursing a desire to gossip to the pastor about it (and I can’t say whether you are or not – that’s something you’ll have to get alone with the Lord and examine your own heart about), those are sins, too. If this is the case, you’re just as guilty of sin as she is, though in a different way. Truly grasping this may make it easier to bear with her and be more humbly compassionate toward her.

…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:1b-2

Now, let me zoom out from the specifics of this particular situation, and say that there is a bigger picture issue here that you might actually need to do something about. If this lady has been a member of the church for any significant amount of time and claims to be born again, it’s concerning that the church environment is such that she would feel comfortable and godly even considering IVF as a single woman, much less actually doing it and shamelessly broadcasting it all over social media.

In a doctrinally sound church, she would have been well trained enough in the Scriptures to know she shouldn’t do this. And if she did start talking about it and start the IVF process, she would have had other godly women in the church that she was close to come alongside her and counsel her against it. And if she pursued it despite their counsel, the second, and, eventually, third and final step of church discipline would have been carried out.

The fact that none of this seems to have happened may indicate that you’re not in a very doctrinally sound church. If you think that’s the case, there is something you can do: find another local church that’s doctrinally sound and join it.

Church situations like this can be sticky with no clear cut answers. We want to be loving but not to appear as though we condone sin. It’s so encouraging that, even though you seem to be struggling with how to respond – as I’m sure any of us would – the bottom line is that you desire to respond in a godly way. I know it’s hard, and I’m taking a moment to pray that God will give you wisdom and grace.

1Yes, dear readers, I understand that sometimes unavoidable things like the death of a spouse or divorce happen and you involuntarily find yourself in a single parenting situation. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about God’s ideal design and a person who is deliberately rebelling against it.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.