Infertility Testing During Engagement

Would it be okay for me to ask my bride-to-be to get tested for infertility before we're married? I can't understand the current trend toward "intentional childlessness" or the apparent devaluation of children in our culture in fact, I've wanted kids for as long as I can remember! I also believe that marriage, sex, and children are all part of the same package (I'm sure your ministry agrees). Instead of choosing childlessness, I'm determined to be intentional about having kids. If I can't do this with my betrothed, I'm not sure I want to pursue marrying her. What do you think?

Unfortunately, what you’re proposing reflects an attitude that is ignorant of what marriage is really all about. To marry a woman is to promise to love her for who she is – not for what you think she can do for you. It is, in fact, to love her “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). According to matrimonial liturgies going all the way back to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, marriage is a matter of committing oneself to one’s spouse “in sickness and in health” and “for better or for worse.” Genuine, sacrificial, Christ-like love doesn’t ask the beloved to jump through hoops or pass tests before sealing the deal. Instead, it gives itself away unconditionally and unreservedly. Your question betrays a self-centered motive that isn’t conducive to true marriage on any level.

Don’t misunderstand. Like you, we believe that children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). This idea is foundational to our entire ministry. That’s why we’re making an intentional effort to counteract what you describe as the “devaluation of children in our culture” on a number of different fronts (including by way of our outreach to young adults via Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine). But this doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten who holds the reins of human destiny. Nor do we expect couples to forgo everything else – including their love for one another – in an attempt to control the fertility of their union. God alone is sovereign. Ultimately, only He has the power to open or close a woman’s womb (see 1 Samuel 1:5). In the end, it’s a matter of being willing to say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Women in particular need to hear this message, since they usually bear the brunt of any pressure a couple may face with regard to having children. But men of your mindset need to understand this concept as well.

We should add that there is a definite order of priorities in marriage as we find it portrayed in the Bible. “First things first,” if we can express it that way, and “one thing leads to another.” This is plainly implied in everything the Scriptures have to say on the subject. God did not create woman primarily because “He wanted godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15), but rather because “it [was] not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). A man does not become “one flesh” with his children but with his wife (Genesis 2:24). This is the first item of business. Children follow after. They are one of the fruits of this one-flesh union, but its central purpose is to “glorify God” and reflect something about the mystery of Christ’s relationship with His church (Ephesians 5:32). Childless couples can fulfill this purpose just as well as couples with scores of offspring.

If you can grasp this idea, you’ll be one step closer to laying the foundation of a strong and lasting marriage. At that point we’d advise you to implement the following plan of action. Sit down with your fiancée and have a deep and serious conversation about your goals and priorities. Among other things, make sure that you’re both on the same page as regards your desire for children. If you don’t pin this down now, it could lead to big problems and misunderstandings in the future. Lay everything out on the table as openly and honestly as you can. But whatever you do, don’t insist that she submit to infertility testing. That’s just a way of saying, “I will love you if …” No woman wants to hear this from the person with whom she plans to spend the rest of her life.

If you’d like to discuss this at greater length with a member of the Focus staff, feel free to contact our Counseling department. Our staff counselors can refer you to Christian marriage-and-family therapists in your area who are qualified to guide you through an entire course of premarital counseling. They would also be more than happy to discuss your situation with you over the phone.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy

Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry

101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged

Before You Say “I Do”: A Marriage Preparation Guide for Couples

Pre-Marital Materials (resource list)

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