I’ve recently stumbled upon two blog posts addressing the donor artificial insemination from a perspective that goes against the grain of the society trends, acknowledging a problem that is often dismissed. Here are the links:
Orphaned at conception:
Who did I come from? The children of donor dads grow up:
I also wanted to give the readers a personal Orthodox perspective, both as a priest and as a medical doctor; so here we go.
There is a great number of problems with the issue of sperm bank donors that rank from practical theology to human psychology. I will try to put my thoughts in a coherent stream.
The “harvesting” of the sperm involves masturbation, which, from an Orthodox perspective, is wrong. Not only the act itself is wrong, but most of the times the donors use inappropriate “arousing” materials to stimulate production, which leads to other moral problems.
The artificial insemination of a woman with a sperm from an unknown man interferes with the sacrament of marriage. This is true both for married and un-married women. A married woman will allow through insemination a third party male to interfere with the sacred union between man and wife, which technically accounts as adultery, even if the husband agrees with the procedure. The woman will carry a child that is not the fruit of the sacred union between the couple, but the product of a union, albeit non-sexual, with a third party.
A similar framework can be applied to an unmarried woman that basically will commit technical fornication by using the semen of a man to which she is not married.
Not only this interferes with marital relationship from the perspective of a woman, but also, the man commits technical fornication and/or adultery by inseminating one or several women out of wedlock.
Another situation that is rapidly increasing in frequency is lesbian couples. Here the situation of an unmarried woman is further complicated by the sexual preference of the mother(s) that, according to the canon law of the Church, is considered “against nature”.
The confidentiality involving to the identity of the donors and the lack of disclosure of their birth accounts to the siblings by their (adopted) parents, corroborated with the relative high number and the lack of control of such artificial inseminations brings also the possibility of incestuous relationships. What if a person conceived using this technique encounters another one, similarly fashioned, and they happen to be, without knowing it, brother and sister, sharing the same donor as a father? We know that from a canon law perspective weddings are not permitted between blood relatives, up to a certain degree.
The consanguinity that may occur in such very probable incestuous relationships may also lead to medical problems since the offspring of such relationship will be more prone to certain genetic disorders.
The greatest damage however is done at the level of the family. As Christians our life is centered on Christ and His Church. We apply all the Christian teachings in the safe shelter of our homes. Our homes become, as St. John Chrysostom observed “small churches”. We have the duty to preserve our homes as such. By using techniques like the donor artificial insemination we disturb the spiritual balance of our homes and we expose ourselves to unjustified spiritual dangers.
After all, as the Fathers say the purpose of marriage is neither mutual sexual satisfaction, nor having children, but becoming one with the purpose of salvation. The goal of our lives does not change with marriage, we still seek theosis, but now together and not as individuals anymore. Children are a blessing and a beautiful fruit of a healthy marriage between a man and a woman.; they are not a must for salvation. We can be saved even as an infertile couple. I know this is difficult to accept, but by forcing God’s hand to comply with our egotistic wishes, through means above reason and decency, we transform the so wanted children in idols. Children conceived like this are not the fruit of love, but the product of an obsession with parenthood.
We don’t have to forget that once we have exhausted all the reasonable and blessed means for conception there are also other alternatives to parenting: adoption or becoming a God parent are blessed avenues that infertile couples can follow.