Michael Has Four Parents

Little Michael has four parents: His mothers are two lesbian lovers, one of whom conceived Michael through artificial insemination, and his fathers are two gay lovers, one of whom was the sperm donor. In homosexual circles today, having babies is the hottest trend—made possible by technologies of artificial reproduction. Gays and lesbians mingle at gatherings they call “Sperm-Egg Mixers,” where they examine one another with an eye not toward marriage but toward selecting good genes. Two lesbians may contract with a gay man for his sperm for artificial insemination, or two men may contract with a lesbian to be a surrogate mother. Clearly, reproductive technology is raising some of the most serious challenges to traditional norms of what a family is. Artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization are being used to break the tie between biology and parenthood. Consider a few other recent developments. Two European women who were past meno-pause gave birth after receiving fertilized eggs donated by younger women. In Italy a black woman married to a white husband used donated eggs to give birth to a white baby. In Scotland experimenters removed the eggs from the ovary of an aborted baby mouse and used the eggs to impregnate an adult mouse. If the same technique is applied to humans, we might one day see egg-farming from tiny girl fetuses. The prospects are frightening. As researchers push forward the frontiers of reproductive technology, it is imperative that we start arguing for some moral limits. As things stand today, the United States has no federal rules or guidelines governing fertility clinics. And guidelines will be very difficult to impose given the subjectivist view of ethics so common today. Listen to law professor Susan Estrich, who told Newsweek magazine, “This is an individual matter, an ethical and moral choice, not the business of government.” Notice the assumption that moral issues are by definition matters of individual choice—that there can be no public ethic to guide us, no shared vision of right and wrong. Moral values are reduced to whatever the parents want. Ironically it’s gays and lesbians who recognize that this privatized view of morality is inadequate: Private actions do have public consequences. Gay-rights leader Stefan Lynch once said, “For two women to have a kid is a political act”—a direct challenge to the norm of heterosexual marriage and parenthood. There’s just no way to dodge the social and political implications of reproductive technol-ogies. Used within traditional norms, they can help husbands and wives struggling with infertility. But often they are used to challenge traditional norms and dissolve morality into private choices. Any technology is only as good or bad as the moral vision that guides it. You and I have an obligation to stay abreast of the surge in reproductive technology and to provide a biblical moral vision. Otherwise there will be many more little Michaels with four parents. All growing up with a greatly distorted view of the pattern God intended for family life.  


Chuck Colson


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