3 ways to support those who are experiencing infertility

April 21, 2015

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 19-25, 2015. The theme is “You Are Not Alone,” which is appropriate given the fact that one in eight couples experiences this painful phenomenon. Resolve is the National Infertility Association, which has been holding the annual awareness week since 1989.

Infertility is my experience, too.

So, why have I not heard of this awareness week until just this year? Perhaps it is because I have a growing sensitivity to infertility due to opening up publicly about my own journey. I began sharing about it on my blog around January 2014. A few short months later, on Mother’s Day, my husband and I announced that we were planning to adopt. The very next week, we found out that we could not naturally conceive.

I love how God placed the desire for us to adopt on our hearts long before we knew we could not conceive. Sure, we had an idea we could not have biological children after not having had children almost a dozen years into marriage. But, we were not compelled to really explore the infertility or treatment for it.

This is just our story, though. You see, everyone who has experienced infertility has a different story. Some couples grieve significantly over not being able to conceive naturally or have biological children. Some couples decide to go forward with infertility treatment. Some couples decide to adopt, while others do not feel called to that.

Your support matters.

There are so many ways you can support people who experience infertility. If you think you don’t know anyone who has or is experiencing this, you are mistaken. Not every couple chooses to share their story. Trust me, it is very difficult. As a woman, it is easy to feel something is “wrong” with me (other than the physical issues that have led to the infertility). We hear that children are a blessing from God and may be tempted to question what we have done that led God to withhold this blessing. But, this kind of thinking is often unhealthy, irrational and unbiblical.

We may never know why some couples who long for a child are not able to conceive, but we do know that God is still good. He is still faithful. He can still bless us and use us to bless others. Infertility can be a thorn in the flesh, but we know that suffering leads to hope, and hope never disappoints (Rom. 5:3-5).  

So, what do you need to know in order to support your friends who are dealing with infertility? Here are a few tips:

  1. We are all different. Our reactions are all different. Some couples who experience infertility are emotionally affected when a friend announces a pregnancy or when attending a baby shower. Some don’t enjoy attending children’s birthday parties or working in the church nursery. I personally rejoice over all of this, but we are all different. Be sensitive to your friends who are walking down this difficult path. Be understanding when someone has a difficult time celebrating your pregnancy or attending your baby shower or child’s birthday party. (And, I also encourage those who are experiencing infertility to try and find the joy in those precious moments, and to rejoice with those who rejoice!)
  2. Be cautious with your questions. I have been asked all sorts of questions. Examples include: Are you going to have children?; When are you going to have children? Have you considered adoption? Are you trying to have children? Are you doing anything to prevent pregnancy? What about IVF? I am sure some of these questions stem from curiosity, while others are pretty personal. It is always surprising to me when someone asks questions that are actually related to my intimate life. To be quite frank, none of this is any of your business. It is likely that if you are close enough with someone, they will share some of this with you. But, please be cautious with your questions, and allow your friends to share with you what they want to share in their own time.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. You may think you know someone’s story and why they don’t have any children. The fact is, you may not know the whole story. I have had a number of friends who experienced secondary infertility—since they already had one child, people would frequently question when they were planning have more children, not knowing that they had either experienced miscarriages or that they were unable to conceive again. I have also found this to be the case with friends who have had more than one child. Infertility is not just experienced by childless couples.

God has a different plan for every couple. During this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week, please help raise awareness. Recognize that we are all different, be cautious with your questions, and don’t make assumptions. Instead, show God’s love, pray for your friends, and simply be there to support them.

Laurel Shaler

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a licensed social worker and professional counselor. She holds master's degrees in Social Work and Theology, and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Shaler is an associate professor at Liberty University, and is the author of Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24