I'm sure at least some of what I have to say will sound insensitive. It's not my intention. I've had this sort of conversation when invited to talk to people in troublesome situations like this, and it's really not possible to spell out the Church's thinking without having to deal with a "hard saying" that is difficult for the hearers to understand or accept and for the tellers to communicate.
When we read Scripture, children are spoken of as a blessing. When couples today have children, they speak of those children as blessings. But the two are rarely the same.
In the past, children were a blessing from God, and people who could not have children may have suffered pain because of the deprivation of this blessing, perhaps they felt shame or inferiority because of it, or were made to feel so by others, but they had no choice but to come to accept it, and/or adopt, participate in the rearing of relatives' children, etc.
Now we have better means of family planning, we have reproductive technologies, etc., and we also have a more materialistic view of life. According to this view, children are
a tax break
a "life experience"
a status booster, etc.
Having children is considered to be the real transition into adulthood by people who have children. If I can't have children, the "blessings" that are I'm missing out on are these subjective blessings for me
, for my
life, and for my
standing in my
community, and my
society at large. It's not (or at best it is equally) about not having the objective blessing of children.
Personally, I think that it is unfair for homosexually oriented people to be told by the Church that their only option according to the gospel is to opt for celibate chastity or enter into a heterosexual marriage, and yet what other option is there according to the gospel, even if it brings them a lot of grief and involves a lot of sacrifice, re-ordering of their lives, overcoming of desires, etc.? I also feel it is unfair to tell infertile couples that it is wrong to use the new reproductive technologies, but that they should instead adopt or accept that it may not be God's will for them to have the children they desire for whatever reason. But according to the principles of the gospel, I have a difficult time advising anything else.
Precisely because of the esteem with which the Orthodox tradition regards marriage, sexuality, and children, I feel that these technologies, by taking the active procreative role of husband and wife and transforming it into a passive, goal-oriented laboratory procedure, are an abuse--they fundamentally conflict with our beliefs about these things. The love of a man and a woman which causes them to join themselves to each other in physical union with the hope/intention of having a child (itself a sacramental, grace-bearing, grace-conferring experience) is now envisioned as a more "animal" phenomenon, separated into its constituent biological parts, and manipulated by medical practitioners. Their mandate is to ensure that a child is conceived, and so they follow their procedures in a controlled environment. They may respect your religious views, but they're not required to respect them more than their patients. Moreover, these technologies involve other real issues of significant moral, ethical, and theological import: how many ova are fertilised vs how many are implanted, what is done with the "leftovers" (themselves human beings created in the image and likeness of God, albeit created in an atypical manner), and so on.
The statement that someone posted above...
IVF offers the chance for a man and a woman to procreate. You need one sperm and one egg. Period. Does it matter where the fertilization happen? I mean, the fertilized egg will be transfered 3-5 days later into the mother's uterus where it will grow how it's supposed to grow, and the fetus will come out ...well...a human being. It's not like IVF will somehow alter our DNA and the end result will be some sort of mutation, an abomination, a monster. No, sir! The baby will be a human being, directly related to the mother and the father. So what's the problem?
...already betrays an acceptance of a non-Orthodox understanding of sexuality, procreation, and the bearing and rearing of children. Here, a child is not a blessing, it is a commodity, and IVF is a project undertaken to obtain that good. As long as the supplies come from the spouses and the genetic material is not altered, and the end result is manifestly human, "what's the problem?" Well, I suppose one is free to look at it that way, but I don't think we can say this is how the Church views it. Our current theology may need to consider these technologies and adequately address their validity from our particular faith perspective (as opposed to just signing on to RC declarations or leaving it exclusively to a couple to decide as they see fit), but based on what we can say here and now, I think the attempts to justify IVF and related technologies leave much to be desired.