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Explainer: What does the SBC resolution on IVF and human life say?

SBC resolution on IVF

Here is what you should know about what the SBC resolution says about IVF and human life. During the recent annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a resolution was passed titled “On the Ethical Realities of Reproductive Technologies and the Dignity of the Human Embryo.” Some media reports, such as The New York Times’ “Southern Baptists Vote to Oppose Use of I.V.F.,” created confusion about the contents of the resolution and led to the need for clarification.

What is a “resolution”?

Within the SBC, a resolution is an expression of opinion or concern, similar to a motion, which calls for action. 

Resolutions are passed during the annual Convention meeting to express the views of the “messengers” (e.g., representatives sent from local churches to the Convention) on a particular topic. A resolution is not designed to be used to direct an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed. 

As the ERLC’s Jason Thacker says about this particular resolution, it does not attempt to tell Southern Baptist pastors which view they must adopt, but serves to assist them in helping couples ask the right questions and make informed decisions about reproductive technologies.

What is the Southern Baptist Convention’s view on human life?

The SBC has repeatedly stated that every person is made in the image of God, and thus, is worthy of protection and dignity, regardless of age, level of ability, or stage of development, and regardless of the method by which they were conceived. 

What does the SBC resolution say about the right to life?

The messengers affirmed that human beings have an inherent right to life and the opportunity to reach their full developmental maturity, citing Exodus 20:13 as biblical support.

What role does the SBC believe governments should play in protecting human life?

The messengers stated that governments are ordained by God to safeguard human dignity and promote human flourishing at all stages of life, referencing Genesis 9:5-6 and Romans 13:1-7.

What does the SBC resolution state about procreation?

The resolution upholds a biblical view that the embodied union of husband and wife is the singular normative expression for procreation, as designed by God.

How is infertility addressed in the SBC resolution on IVF?

The resolution acknowledges that infertility affects many married couples who have a good and godly desire to bring children into the world. The messengers encourage those struggling with infertility to turn to God, look to Scripture for examples, and know that their lament is heard by the Lord.

What does the SBC resolution state about children born through assisted reproductive technologies?

The messengers affirm that all children are a gift from the Lord, regardless of the circumstances of their conception, citing Psalm 127:3.

What specific concerns does the SBC resolution express about in vitro fertilization (IVF)?

The messengers express several concerns about IVF:

  • IVF often results in the creation of more embryos than can be safely implanted.
  • IVF leads to the freezing, stockpiling, and ultimate destruction of human embryos.
  • Some embryos may be subjected to unethical practices such as sex selection.
  • IVF involves the routine destruction of embryonic human life.
  • IVF increasingly engages in methods for determining suitability for life and genetic sorting based on parental preferences.

What statistics does the SBC resolution cite regarding frozen embryos?

The resolution states that estimates suggest between 1 million and 1.5 million human beings are currently stored in cryogenic freezers in an embryonic state throughout the United States. Most will likely be destroyed.

What actions does the resolution call on Southern Baptists to take?

The resolution calls on Southern Baptists to:

  • Reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage.
  • Only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation, especially in the number of embryos generated in the IVF process.
  • Love all neighbors in accordance with their God-given dignity as image bearers.
  • Advocate for government policies that protect the dignity and value of every human being, including frozen embryos.
  • Consider adopting frozen embryos to rescue those who may otherwise be destroyed.
  • Promote adoption as a way to grow families.
  • Grieve alongside and support couples struggling with infertility.
  • Pray for couples struggling with infertility.

What does the resolution say about ethical considerations of assisted reproductive technologies?

The resolution states that not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God-honoring or morally justified and encourages couples struggling with infertility to consider the ethical implications of assisted reproductive technologies and to look to God for hope, grace, and wisdom amid their suffering. And it commends couples who have sought to use infertility treatments and reproductive technologies in ways consistent with the dignity of the human embryo, as well as those who have adopted frozen embryos.

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SBC resolution on IVF

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