Summary: Using Abram & Hagar To Understand Reproductive Technology
Scripture reminds us there is nothing new under the sun. And even though the way certain things are accomplished and the settings might change to some degree, most human dramas have not changed all that much since the earliest days of recorded history.
One such desire that has been a constant throughout the passing millennia has been the longing to have children. Both classic literature and front page headlines attest to the length some will go to to satisfy the parental impulse.
Here in our enlightened and progressive era are those wearing their sophistication on their sleeves for all to see who would say that there is no reason medically or morally why the desire for children cannot be fulfilled for those seeking to have the role of primary adult caretaker in the life of a specific young person.
One venue through which couples unable to have children of their own have turned to is surrogate motherhood. In this arrangement, the genetic material of the husband is implanted for the purposes of impregnation in a fecund woman who agrees to turn over custody of the child (often for a hefty sum of money) to the biological father and his wife.
To those seeing marriage as little more than a contract instituted by human beings with little purpose beyond establishing a stable social order, its slight alteration among consenting adults is of little consequence. However, from an examination of Genesis 16, we see that utilizing a woman other than the wife one is married to in the eyes of God is fraught with consequences that cannot initially be predicted.
From the text, the reader gathers the following facts.
Though God had promised an heir to Abram and Sarai, it seemed to them that they would remain barren since they were getting along in years.
So Sarai suggested that Abram go to her servant Hagar and father a child through her. Being a typical man, Abram readily agreed and took Hagar as a second wife.
After Hagar conceived, like a typical woman Sarai chewed out Abram when doing exactly as he was told by his wife did not turn out exactly as she expected. This happened in part when Hagar copped an attitude that she was more of a woman than Sarai since Hagar conceived, no doubt rubbing it in her employer’s face.
Caught in the middle, Abram let the catfight continue and told Sarai to do as she pleased with Hagar. So since she was mistreated by Sarai, Hagar ran away.
However, Hagar eventually returned to Abram to have Ishmael after being told by the Lord to do so and after being promised that she would be the mother of a great nation in her own right as well.
This text is fraught with a number of ethical issues.
For starters, there is the near universal desire to have a family, which, often a central motivating impulse in normal circumstances, must have been an overwhelming desire when it was prophesied that one’s offspring would come to influence all the world.
Second, there is the issue of the sanctity of marriage. From Scripture, it is taught that the standard is matrimony between one man and one woman as it says two shall become one flesh, not three.