According to Megan Best, a medical doctor and a bioethicist, 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility. For those who are unable to conceive a child, infertility places a particularly heavy weight of suffering on the couple.
In the following video, Best gives advice on how a pastor might counsel and encourage a couple experiencing this difficulty.
First off, she starts with some general information. defines infertility as a couple having normal sexual relations, absent of contraception, and not being able to conceive after a year of trying. One Possible cause in the higher rates of infertility in this generation versus generations previous is that women are trying to have children later.
There are a few paths couples can choose from, available through modern medicine, when faced with infertility. However, Best warns Christian couples in particular need to be careful when choosing which path to choose. She explains there is a “tension between what’s possible and what’s ethical.”
Her other caution is that if we’re so desperate to have a child that we’re willing to do anything it takes, we’re making an idol of that child.
Best offers the following advice to pastors counseling a Christian couple who faces infertility:
Don’t try to minimize the pain the couple is feeling.
Infertility is a very painful thing to face, although it can be a bit hard to empathize if you have not faced this particular pain yourself.
Encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices.
There are seemingly small steps the couple can take to increase their chances of conceiving, like not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting their vitamin levels checked, etc.
Help them realize it’s up to God whether or not we have children.
This is the bottom line of Best’s advice: We need to encourage couples to trust in God’s outcome rather than trusting in medical procedures. Best feels it’s all right to use medical technology to correct any physical problems we have that are preventing us from having children, but we don’t want people to start thinking that it’s ok to have a child at any cost. After counseling many couples, Best says sometimes it’s encouraging to tell couples “it’s ok to stop trying.” Sometimes couples need to be reminded that it is possible to have a rich and fulfilling life without children.