Christianity Featured

Surrogate Mothers

Surrogate Mothers (Abdul Majid) One of the many dilemmas faced by the Christian world is the question of polygamy and divorce which are forbidden under the teaching of Christianity. In spite of the fact that many of the Prophets of the Bible, particularly the more notable Prophets such as Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, practised polygamy, the main objection on the teachings of Islam by the Christians is against polygamy; and though the Bible (Old Testament) permitted divorce, the New Testament does not. The only ground on which divorce is permissible under the New Testament is adultery (Matthew 19:9). However, besides adultery, mental and physical cruelty has also been included and recognised by law in many Christian States, as a valid ground for divorce, with the result that the incidence of divorces has gone out of all proportions. While the doctrine of divorce has been adopted by the Christians, polygamy is still prohibited so much so that even the followers of other faiths, such as Islam, which permit polygamy, cannot have more than one wife. There can be no denying the fact that situations can arise where second marriages become a necessity of life. For instance, if a woman is unproductive and incapable of bearing due to some intrinsic defect, for which she cannot be blamed or held responsible, or is afflicted with some physical disability so that she is or becomes incapable of performing conjugal obligations, the only course for the husband would be to have a second wife with a view to having children and satisfying biological urges without resorting to immoral and corrupt practices. As a result of the restrictions on polygamy, the married couples, who do not have children due to the wife being barren, take recourse to the unnatural method of surrogate mothers. Under this arrangement, another woman, married or unmarried, is hired for a fixed price, and is inseminated with the sperm of the hirer husband through mechanical device, instead of by direct intercourse which would be an act of adultery being out of wedlock. The alarming complications arising out of such an arrangement have been demonstrated by the case of surrogate mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, reported in the Democrat and Chronicle of January, 5 and 7,1987, who was SURROGATE MOTHERS 13 hired by WilIiam and Elizabeth Stern on contract for $10,000, and was inseminated with the sperm of William Stern. The surrogate mother refused to give up the baby after birth and the matter is being contested in a Superior Court in New Jersey. Viewed in the context ofthis situation, the teachings ofIslam, which permit polygamy in certain situations, would obviously appear to be quite in the fitness of things to meet the exigencies of practical life. It is indeed a paradox on the part of those who criticise the teachings of Islam in respect of polygamy and divorce and are forced to practise it in one or the other form. Divorce, which is not permissible in Christianity, save on account of adultery, has been adopted and practised so frequently that most of the marriages end up in divorces. The undue barriers placed on divorce and polygamy have opened the floodgates of adultery which is being tacitly tolerated, if not approved, as stated in the New Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Rigid monogamy was not unrelated to the common and widely tolerated practice of adultery, which the Roman Catholic Church regarded as more tolerable than divorce.” (AWAKE – November 8, 1985 – page 10). As to polygamy, which has not been legally adopted, like divorce, is being practised in the form of surrogate mothers, which, amounts to the admission of the fact that the teachings of Islam in respect of polygamy and divorce are quite in accord with the human nature and a way to meet the practical needs of mankind. The Quran says: “The disbelievers do often wish (by their conduct) that they were Muslims.” (Surah 15:3). which obviously means that in whatever way the disbelievers may object to the teachings of Islam, they would be forced (by circumstances) to follow it.