Monday, August 30, 2010

Single motherhood by choice

Quite a while back, I blogged about the subject of older single Orthodox Jewish women being permitted to have children out of wedlock, by a ruling of a rabbi who is, apparently, particularly aware of their plight. Today, I'm bringing this up again, inspired by a post written by A Mom in Israel.

Last time I discussed this subject here, I received quite a few comments telling me that as someone who got married at 22 and had her first child at 23, I have no idea what it's like for a woman to be in her late 30's with no perspective of marriage in sight. That is so. I know, however, what it's like to grow up having no idea who your father was.

The detachment between fathers and children, essentially fatherlessness, is one of the greatest tragedies of our generation. Sexual promiscuity and rampant divorce have caused a dramatic rise in the number of children who were either born to mothers who accidentally got pregnant out of wedlock, or to couples who split up before or after marriage. I don't care what wishy-washy PC surveys have to say – a child, doesn't matter if it's a boy or girl, needs the balancing presence of a mother and father. That's how God intended it and that's how things have been in the vast majority of cases throughout history.

How we were raised leaves a lingering impact on our lives, and often, the older we are the more prominent it is. I feel it stronger than ever now that I'm a wife and mother myself and facing the challenge of raising my child (and any day now, God willing, a second baby).

Many of my friends and schoolmates were raised by single mothers, but it's comforting to know they all at least knew who their father was, and most of them visited and kept in touch, too. They had a name, a face, memories, heritage, family on their father's side. It isn't ideal but they didn't have to grow up wondering who they actually were. Even in the tragic circumstance of a father dying before his child is born, there are pictures to look at and stories to tell. I, on the other hand, felt and still and will always feel, as though part of me is missing.

One must also consider the attitude of mothers who choose to become pregnant out of wedlock by artificial insemination or IVF (which supposedly makes it more "kosher" than having a child through unmarried sex). Widows and widowers obviously become single parents through no fault of their own. People who divorce after they have children, however tragic it is, still probably started at some point with the intention of being married for a lifetime. Even those "accidentally" pregnant mothers are putting up with consequences rather than making choices which, put together, comprise a disastrous social phenomenon. But those who say, "I want a child of my own and I will have it, whatever it takes, married or not," are acting out of selfishness. They devalue marriage and family and will pass on a similar message to their children. These children won't just grow up without a father; it's very likely they will receive a "we don't really need men" or "marriage isn't necessary" message.  

A rabbi who endorses this view through finding a technical loophole in the Halacha and cynically pointing others to it, doesn't fully realize how he distorts Jewish values and the concept of the Jewish family. I wonder how many children he knows who were born to "single by choice" mothers, and how he dares to brush aside their well-being by saying "the benefit of the child who doesn't exist yet, doesn't hold water." What will he tell in 10, 15, 20 years to children who were born as a result of his ruling, and grew up with a distorted view of family and marriage?

I realize I can only imagine the desperate ticking of a biological clock belonging to a 37-year-old single. But I think what these older single women should realize is that our children aren't really our own. They belong to the Almighty, and we are only stewards of their precious souls. A child is not a trophy, not something you put on your list of achievements. Once we approach the matter through a position of selflessness, the argument of "but I want" is largely eliminated.

And what of adoption? I think that if the matter is being alone and yearning to give, rabbis should rally together to make it easier and more acceptable for older Jewish singles to adopt. There are many children who struggle for years without finding a family; for them, even a single parent would be infinitely better than no family at all. True, it would not allow a woman to have the joyful experience of carrying and nursing her own baby, but it would bring two lonely hearts together, it would give her a chance to open her arms and lavish truly selfless love upon a needy child. That, in my opinion, would be a true win-win situation for all.


Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

God bless you, Anna, for your willingness to speak the truth!

Hope all is going well as your due date draws nearer...

Anonymous said...

I don't feel those mothers are acting out of selfishness. If the only way I would have come into existence would have been that my mother did something like that, I still would have known how much she loved and wanted to have me, and I still would rather be alive than not exist.

Maurisa said...

This is a popular topic of discussion in the blogosphere right now, due to American actress, Jennifer Aniston's declaration that women no longer need men to have a child (I'm paraphrasing her statement). Thank you for a wonderfully thoughtful post. You addressed aspects of this idea that many others have overlooked. Children are not a commodity, nor a status symbol, they are gifts from God and belong to Him alone. I often find we live in a very selfish world.

Heli said...

Like I sms:ed you, I check the blog often... :) You are in my thoughts :)

Analytical Adam said...

As a man this issue is the biggest reason I resent the Rabbi's. I grew up in a two parent home but my parents used me as a scapegoat and supported easy divorce for others and the Rabbi's don't care when boys are mistreated in ANY SITUATION unless he is very wealthy or has political connections which then you could make things up which is terribly immoral.

First of all, Halacha in some respect was made by Rabbi's. They have to prove their points from the written torah They decided to ignore certain issues that the torah does not support and created this loopholes which they could close if they really cared about the Jewish people as a whole and not pandering to every desire a women has and also never listening to the men in the trenches. Let us not blame Halacha or claim that this is G-d's fault. Some idea's of Halacha are distortion of the written torah as like anyoen else a person's agenda's can cause him to misread the torah. Rabbi's wanting to please another man's wife is not so great. There is no loophole other then Halacha has allowed certain loopholes and the Rabbi's refuse to close them because they benefit from these loopholes even though they damage the Jewish people and especially in Israel the torah warns about this and the consequence that we will be kicked out of Israel because of these serious immoral behavior's which single motherhood is certainly a very serious evil (as is undermining fatherhood in general and not caring who the father is because the father can teach the child immoral practices which the torah warns in Detoronomy 7:3 regarding both genders) G-d understands better then me. And is a slap in the face to our Matriarchs.

What about men who live alone because of this behavior. Why don't the Rabbi's care about us and our pains and our longings? Many say men don't want to get married and are anti-social which is just not true. The amount of negative propaganda against men is just terrible that is promoted by most Rabbi's. This is a serious sin.

Analytical Adam said...

It is sad but most Rabbi's want to undermine the father's authority and it is bad for a society to do this.

There is a Gemara that says a Rabbi brings a child to the next world while a father only brings him to this world.

This isn't true though. Many boys without fathers are much more likely to steal to rape you name it.

So clearly a father is the important factor in teaching a boy right and wrong and following G-d's way. More so then a Rabbi.

So this problem didn't start in this generation and maybe this is why we have been in exile because other cultures have cared about fathers and we were effected by the culture around us and we couldn't have our own culture because we wouldn't respect the father. Until the 1960's most Western cultures did support the father and didn't want divorce to be common and now that this is no longer case is why Western society is in deep decline sad to say and I hope Israel does not follow the West in this direction or they are doomed as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh I think you are soooo right! I know what is growing up without a father and I couldn't agree more. And as for those women in their late 30's with no children....they should had tought about that when they were in their 20's!!! They delay motherhood, they made the wrong choices on men or they spend their 20's just having unmarried sex for fun without thinking about being a keeper and then when they are running out of time they realize they need to hurry up to have a childre. I feel no pity for them.

Sylvia said...

I have nothing against IVF for couples who cannot have children. My husband and I would have definitely explored that option if we were not able to have children. I am even aware of single women choosing to have children through IVF. I thought they were not religious women, But this is the first time I have heard of a rabbi or anyone of such authority sanctioning it which is frankly surprising.

Anna, sorry to be graphic, but does the rabbi sanction only Jewish DNA for this. If so, does he know that mix ups can happen ? I have read stories like that.

Also, if these women would love to have children, what about adoption ? I would respectfully wonder why the rabbi did not suggest that ?

THE Princess Bombshell* said...

For real, Anna. Totally agree.

Yes! Adoption! That is a "solution"! I have a heart for adoption-- I have two bio and two by adoption. AND the encouragement to some of these women-- it IS possible to nurse with adoption!

Gothelittle Rose said...

I agree with you too, Anna. When women claim that having a child while single is better than the child never being born at all, I'd like to know...

Which food is healthier? A twinkie or a donut? Probably a donut. That doesn't mean that I should make it a point in my life to eat donuts at every meal. Which is better, a head-on collision or a rear-end collision? The rear-end one tends to be safer. That doesn't mean that I should go out deliberately crashing into things.

Reach for the heights! Instead of discussing whether a child should be fatherless or not exist, strive for a society in which men are encouraged to provide for their offspring, preferably by marrying the mother. Strive for a society in which the women see men as more than sperm donors, to be seen once or perhaps never seen at all.

I read an article a few days back about the children of these single moms. One story in particular broke my heart... a donor-created child who kept all of his school projects in an under-bed box labeled "Daddy".

sarah said...

So you're saying that adopted children are worth less than bio ones?

Because - by your own admittance - you say that single mothers should not carry their own child, because those children need a "needs the balancing presence of a mother and father."

Yet, at the end of your lovely, ill informed tirade, you advocate for these same women to ADOPT. Because apparently, those children who are given up, do not deserve the same love and "balancing presence" of a mother and father. Stick them with a single mother - thats good enough for them!!


Harper said...

Personally, I don't support IVF or artificial insemination except in cases where one partner has been rendered infertile through chemo. What makes us think we are so smart that we know better about reproduction than HE who made us and our reproductive systems?

And deliberately bringing a child into the world who has no clue as to his paternity has a multigenerational effect. Not only is that child deprived of a father, but his children of a grandfather. Moreover, donor sperm can be used for multiple women and the donor may have naturally conceived children as well. Not knowing who your father is (and often having no way to find out) makes it impossible to know who your siblings are. If the donor and recipient are both from a fairly insular or small community (as is the case for many Jewish) that lack of knowledge can have disastrous consequences later on when the child seeks a mate of his own.

I think of one of humanity's greatest difficulties is that of remembering to think about long-term consequences. This rabbinic ruling is just one more example. Thank you for bringing some attention to it.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, to be truthful I don't think women seeking this kind of rabbinical advice have been promiscuous - the ones who had sex for fun don't need a rabbi to make single motherhood by choice seem acceptable. Maybe these women were too picky with potential suitors; maybe they spent their 20's pursuing education and career. Or maybe not. Maybe they truly are lovely women with a heart for marriage and family and things simply didn't work out for them.

But regardless, I believe they should have faith and see that if the Almighty didn't have marriage in His plan for them, same goes for motherhood as the two are supposed to go together. What they are trying to do looks like stomping their feet saying "I will have MY way no matter what and let the world go to shambles." If this becomes a widespread trend in our community, the consequences can be disastrous.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Sylvia, children born to a Jewish mother are Jewish regardless who their father is. However, a girl born to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father will not be able to marry a Cohen, which slightly narrows her options (not too much, but she must be aware of it while meeting young men to avoid potential heartbreak).

Why doesn't he support adoption? Good question. I've been asking the same thing myself.

Mrs. Anna T said...


Evidently, you chose to misinterpret what I said.

If a child already exists and has not found an adoptive family for some time, or it is unlikely he/she will find an adoptive family, he or she is better off adopted by a single mother than growing up as an orphan.

What I am against is **deliberately increasing** the number of children born to single mothers.

Goosegirl said...

Mrs Anna, I so agree with you. As the mama of a homegrown daughter and one who joined our family through adoption, I can say that the love is the same. If I were a single person, I would not try to give birth on my own unless the pregnancy was accidental. I believe that every life is valuable to God and I am so grateful that I get to be the mama to both of my girls. I would adopt many more children if I could. There are so many children who are lonely and alone and need families.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

Thank you for your courageous speaking of the TRUTH!
Your brain isn't mush these last days of pregnancy-it's as sharp as ever! Great post.

Amanda said...

As someone who grew up not knowing my biological father because of an early divorce, I agree completely. I was fortunate to have an involved and kind adoptive father later, but it's not quite the same. My own mother also grew up not knowing her biological father, and so it is only through recent research we found out she is 1/4 native american! That information may seem trivial, but it explains so much, our dark skin and hair, the 'ethnic' look people comment on, and the family tendency for lactose intolerance. Even my own son's mongolian spot is explained by that small bit of knowledge. It makes a difference!

"But I think what these older single women should realize is that our children aren't really our own. They belong to the Almighty, and we are only stewards of their precious souls."

^ I agree completely. And this points even more towards adoption or foster care as a solution. When we adopt we're even more aware that our children are not our possessions, they've simply been given into our care by the Lord for this lifetime.

As for the comment on adopted children being 'less worthy' of 2 parents, that is a deliberate misinterpretation, that was in no way stated in this post. The fact is there are thousands of children in foster care and orphanages around the world, most of whom will never have a home or adoptive parent. I've had friends who aged out of the foster care system, they ended up homeless because they had no adult guiding them, helping them transition to adulthood. They would have been thrilled to be adopted by any loving parent, even if that had to be a single parent. In fact, some foster children NEED a single mother because they were sexually abused by men before and cannot trust men just yet. Women desire to nurture, children desire to be nurtured, why not pair them up? Yes the ideal is that everyone could get married and have children naturally, but if a woman finds herself ending childbearing years and still unmarried why shouldn't she turn those nurturing gifts towards meeting the very real needs of orphans already here and hurting? That seems much better to me than to go outside God's plan to bring new children into the world, leaving those orphans to remain unadopted and alone.

Anonymous said...

I am 42 years old, never married, and I totally agree with what you say. I didn't wind up alone because I was too busy with a career, nor did I have any desire to just casually "date" (i.e. sleep around) in my 20's. I have been preparing for marriage and looking for my husband since I was 19 but a suitable man just never came around. (In the US there are about 7 million more women than men, so unfortunately many good women will never be able to find husbands. There just aren't enough men to go around.) If anyone had a "right" to go ahead and have a child anyway it would be me. But it is so unfair to the child to deliberately bring him or her up without a father. Though I wanted children desperately I would never have considered having a fatherless child just to ease my own pain.


C said...

It seems to me that any child conceived by means that take such extraordinary time, effort and money to achieve as IVF does will be a very well-loved child indeed. A woman who so desires a child that she endures these hardships is by definition a woman who very much wants a child.

Ultimately, what matters is that a child is wanted, and loved.

Suze said...

Adoption in my country is so very difficult. It does not matter if the child is from overseas, local or disabled the road is long and arduous. I would love to see adoption being a viable path.

In the end I married to have my children and now am going through an ugly divorce twenty one years later. Not everything works as we would like as the workd is a tainted place.

In the end I fall into the judge not group. People do what the do for their reasons. An older woman who seeks IVF should have thought long and hard. Not everyone is lucky to be offered marriage. I do have some real issues with IVF especially when people are greatly pushing the limits of nature.

Anya said...

Hi Anna,
I read your blog from time to time and have never left a reply, but I have to say that I respectfully disagree with your views on this topic. Specifically, your reply to a commenter, in which you state: "What they are trying to do looks like stomping their feet saying "I will have MY way no matter what and let the world go to shambles." "

Do you really think that of ALL the ways that an average devout woman pictures her life to be, becoming a single mother in her late 30s is "her way no matter what and let the world go to shambles"? I would venture a guess that the type of woman that you refer to (the one who would actually seek a Rabi's permission before becoming a single mother) had not imaged she would ever be in this position. It is not HER WAY. It is the hand she's been dealt in life. It is so easy to judge others and say, "well, if she didn't get married by her late 30s, it must be because of x, y or z". What if it is not? What if she did everything that was expected of her as a woman, but simply did not have the good fortune to meet her other half while still at an age when she can safely have a baby? Must this woman deal with this misfortune AND propagate it further by being denied motherhood? I think, some compassion is in order. Life is not black and white.

Furthermore, I think no one should make statements such as "The Almighty must have other plans for her". What plans? Do you know of them? What if His plan is to have this woman raise a child that she conceives through IVF? Can you, or anyone else for that matter, truly know what God's plan is for any particular person? No. Only He knows. If God does not want her to be a single mother for whatever reasons, her IVF treatments will be unsuccessful. Surely, your faith in Him is strong enough to know that He will not let the IVF go through, if it's not His plan.

When people make blanket statements such as "No one should do X because it is not what God wants", they take on a huge responsibility by speaking for Him. Are you ready to be responsible in front of Him for such statements? Do you really know what His plans are for EVERY woman on this planet?

Finally, I do agree with you that fathers are extremely important to raising an emotionally healthy child. My comments above do not try to argue this point.

Have faith that He knows what He is doing without needing approval or interpretation from you, me, or anyone else.

sibyl said...

How incredibly painful it is for a woman to realize that she is getting older and not likely to have children; I so sympathize with that heartache.

Also painful are other life situations that can be so tragic: the young man with same-sex attractions who wants to live with a spouse and raise children, but just not a woman... or the middle aged woman whose husband becomes seriously incapacitated, requiring her to love and care for him although he's not able to respond or reciprocate...

Life is so full of painful circumstances. But it would not only be wrong, but very unwise to use whatever means possible to dull the pain. The Almighty doesn't want us to suffer, but breaking His law only heaps more trouble on someone already burdened. And this of course happens whether the person believes it or not, since reality is objective and not just a construct of our own making.

Women now have the means to become biological mothers without a man's overt cooperation. But it doesn't follow that women should use these means, and as Mrs. Anna says so well, it is the children who pay the price. Children not only need fathers, they deserve them, even when the fathers are not the greatest.

This is not to judge the women who find themselves single mothers through circumstance. Single mothers are usually heroic -- my husband was raised by one.

åslaug abigail said...

A very good post, Anna =) I agree with you, wholeheartedly. It's not just boys who needs fathers, girls does too. I dare say a girl would do as badly without a father as a boy would. G-d made parents man and woman on purpose, not by coincidence. And adoption is helping children who are already here as best you can, (and a single mother as opposed to no parents at all is certainly a better option, just as widows and widovers should not at all LEAVE their children just because their all of a sudden single parents..), not stamping your feet (I love the way you said that) saying, I WILL have my way... and creating a one-parent situation where there wasn't one in the first place.

Oh, and don't get that wrong: If a young, unmarried girl gets pregnant I'm absolutely suggesting she gives birth to her baby, that baby is already there (and many girls choose adoption in that case too).

Well, you wrote it all so well, I can't improve on that. And you do so well in answering those who (purposefully or not) misinterpreted what you wrote.

I was just stopping by to see if your sweet babe had made it into your arms yet... waiting, hoping, praying for a safe and happy delivery <3

åslaug abigail

Anonymous said...

I was a single mother for 13 years. My daughter's father was very much in her life and was generally a great dad for her and they saw each other almost every weekend and for almost all of the holidays / vacation times but she still really really wanted us together as a 'normal' family.

I had a great support circle and a lot of help so I never really struggled as many single mums do, but I cannot fathom doing it as a choice and really don't understand someone who would dot ha to a child intentionally. Imo, its largely due to the great sense of personal entitlement that pervades our society.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I think it often happens that people believe that, if they want something really, really badly, it must be "God's plan" for their lives. And if it doesn't work out then God obviously got it wrong. I think that before making the step of deliberately bringing a fatherless child into this world, these women should look deep inside their hearts and ask themselves, "do I really believe God wants me to do this, or is this something *I* want so badly that my judgment is distorted?"

Persuaded said...

""the benefit of the child who doesn't exist yet, doesn't hold water."
Wow... this just blew me away. A rabbi said this?? I just.... I just have no words.

If I may, I wanted to respond to Anya's comment:
"When people make blanket statements such as "No one should do X because it is not what God wants", they take on a huge responsibility by speaking for Him. Are you ready to be responsible in front of Him for such statements? Do you really know what His plans are for EVERY woman on this planet?"
We don't need to "speak for God." He has already spoken up for Himself through scripture... and if there is anything that is clear in scripture it is that the Almighty deeply values the importance of fathers. After all, He has used the father/child relationship to describe Himself in relation to humanity! In scripture the term "orphan" doesn't mean without parents, it means without a father, and an orphan is seen as deeply deeply unfortunate. One may be able to (as did this rabbi) find a technicality or loophole that would "allow" for such a thing as intentional single motherhood, but it flies in the face of the overarching theme of and boundaries laid out in scripture. Anna is not presuming to "speak for God." He's quite capable of speaking for Himself- and He already has!

And I say this as a single mother myself♥

joyce said...

This post and some of the replies bothered me very much. I doubt very seriously if I will be reading such controversial issues on this blog again. Oh, I wish you well with your baby and am anxious to find out all about the birth, but these debates are not for me.

So why am I joining in? Well, I'd just like to say, that in my opinion, this is not a black and white issue. In between are many shades of gray. Who am I to judge anyone, as to their decisions to have a baby although single,or choose to adopt, or whatever?

I will say with sincere conviction that there are some children who are much better off with a single mother than with two parents when the father is abusive, cruel, has a drinking or drug problem, etc. What kind of life is that for a child?

Some women do not "choose" to be in their thirties and have no children. That's the way life turned out for them. Who am I to say they should not have a child?

I wish I had not read this post and I wish I had not responded. But I feel I must express myself.

Lady Anne said...

Bravo, Persuaded! I also was just astounded that a member of the clergy would suggest having a child out of wedlock, as old-fashioned as that term may be.

The world isn't always the way we want it to be (just ask Job!) but we must knuckle down and keep moving, knowing that G-d has something better in mind for us. As a young widow with two children, I was faced with some monumental problems, and I had a family to back me up. An Orthodox woman who chooses single parenthood may not receive her family's blessing, which is going to make her life ever more difficult.

Another thing for this woman to consider is that the older the mother the more danger of having a child with problems - Downs Syndrome, fragile X, low birth weight, etc. If she insists on having this child on her own terms, rather than G-d's, is she going to NOT have the child on her own terms when a sonogram comes up with less than perfect images? You think raising a normal child one your own is difficult? Try it with a child who has developmental problems.

Mrs. V. said...

First of all, I want to say 'Amen' to Persuaded for her comment. So many times Christians get accused of 'speaking for God' when all we are really doing is simply conveying what God Himself has already set forth.

Mrs. T, I agree that adoption is a good option for unmarried women who absolutely must have a child. I married young myself and started having my children within the first two years, but I have often thought that if I were still unmarried (mid-thirties) now and felt the maternal urge to mother, I would look to adoption to fill that gap.

Anonymous said...

God made rules for us in order to keep us healthy and happy. When we break his rules, thinking that we somehow know better than the Almighty Master of the Universe, it always ends up badly.

Just look at Adam and Eve.

So whether you're a married, infertile couple or a single, childless woman, accept your circumstance graciously. Don't try to break God's rules in order to satisfy your desires.

Instead, pray for knowledge of God's plan for you. It might be that He wants you to adopt children, or to be a foster parent. Or perhaps you aren't meant to raise children at all.

Sometimes God's will for us isn't easy to accept. But praying for grace and knowledge and the humility to obey him makes us grow immensely, until eventually we are able to accept what he's given us with a grateful heart, knowing that his plan is the best plan.

Anonymous said...

I always find it strange when Jews take the word of any man, even if he is a rabbi, over the word of God clearly layed out in the Torah.

Just don't get it.

Many Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

Those adult women or men that want a 'child all their own' should get a pet rabbit or goldfish. Or, at the very heart of the matter, consider serving in an orphanage. There are plenty of children that want a 'parent all their own'.

J in VA said...

In response to the comment about IVF not working if it is not God's will: sometimes that is true, sometimes though God says--if that's what you want, that's what you'll get. We have free will and sadly, sometimes we exercise it when we should not.

I am acquainted with a young widow who recently gave birth to a baby (conceived after her husband's death with donor sperm). She lost her only child about 2 years prior to his death and they were at odds at the time of his death about having more children. My response to her pregnancy was intense sadness that her child would never have a dad.

I just can't imagine purposfully creating that situation for your child. It's bad enough when death or divorce happens.

Anonymous said...

If a loud voice came down from heaven and said, "Jane, I am God, and this is my plan for your life: you will remain childless and devote yourself to the plight of the poor." I don't think Jane would then say to herself, "Hmph, I don't care what God wants; my husband and I want a child and we're going to do whatever it takes to get one!"

If, however, God speaks to Jane through circumstance -- she and her husband have not been able to conceive during their 10 year marriage -- why would Jane consider this any less of a message from God than if she heard his voice coming down from heaven?

Sylvia said...

Not to derail this and I hope I do not upset you by commenting on this Anna. Please do not approve this if you think this will create conflict.
Diane (Persuaded's) comment about speaking for God stuck a chord in me too. She is someone I respect and she knows my heart. But LadyAnne and Mrs V, may I respectfully say, not every time a christian has 'spoken' for God in my experience it has been something I agree with or trust. Especially if they are not an ordained person.
I come from a country where the traditional dress is pants and a long top. I live in America now and wear pants in life. We do not show legs. I have had 'christians' throw bible verses at me because their version of 'biblical feminity' is skirts. These people wear tops that are sleeveless or short sleeved and are short in the torso though they do not show stomach. My top covers me up to my elbows and are long in the torse, but I am not 'modest' or 'feminine' because I wear pants ? I also occasionally wear a sari which women have worn for centuries in my native country that shows off my bare stomach. Am I a harlot then ?
Who ever presumes to speak for the Almighty better be prepared to take responsibility. And context matters. In this case, I am shocked that the rabbi would allow this just as I would be shocked if he said something about my dress if I was dresssed modestly per my culture, but not according to Jewish law.

Ramirez said...

I find myself agreeing with what Anya said, if only because I see this pattern quite often in other matters - not even having to do with babies. All too often, people would presume that they know precisely what God wants, and they argue using the "naturality" argument. If God wanted you to have X, He'd have given it to you in a "natural" way. Since you didn't get X yet, God must not want it for you, so your attempts at getting it in another way are sinful.

I find that argument incredibly presumption of God's plans. How can we know what He wants? How can we know what way does He want us to achieve that?

To get to X, you need to do a sequence of steps; some people need to do less while others more. In this case, to conceive, some people need to only have sex, while others may need complementary drugs and yet others may require more direct forms of medical intervention. Those are all steps toward a goal.

How can *anyone at all* make an arbitrary boundary in the middle of that sequence and proclaim that God wants you to do some, but not the others? Do realize that the only basis you have for the location of that boundary is that the later steps haven't existed until recently.

But that's true of many other things. Will you say that performing a Caesarean section goes against God's will to have the baby born dead? Will you say that anyone who gets sick should not go to a doctor but instead just wait and see if the illness would go away, for going to the doctor means undermining God's plan for you? You likely wouldn't say any of those things - clearly, all of the steps you can take are steps that can only exist because God allowed them. But then, why the exception in this case?

Sarah B. said...

I agree with Anya's and Ramirez's analysis. But at the same time, I think it would be tragic if many women pursued this means of having children, when there are so many children waiting to be adopted. I hope single women in this situation will keep in mind how great a difference they could make in a child's life by adopting.

Anonymous said...

"My response to her pregnancy was intense sadness that her child would never have a dad."

This poor young woman had lost her child AND her husband within a short time? With all due respect, might I say that I hope your response to her new baby (which I am sure was a precious miracle to her as all children are) was kept to yourself and not notices by this already grieving woman? I cannot imagine suffering such devastating losses, and then having to face criticism from outsiders when that sort of joy came into my life again.

Elle said...

I didn't read through all the comments but I read enough to see this is a very debated topic!

that said I wanted to say I completely agree with this statement that you made at the end of your post:

"But I think what these older single women should realize is that our children aren't really our own. They belong to the Almighty, and we are only stewards of their precious souls."

YES! exactly! I couldn't have put it better myself. I is understandable he heartbreak of a women who cannot have children! the mourning of a life that never was. I think many of us can identify with that feeling from at least something in our lives that is that way. couple it was in internal instinct, desire and even NEED to procreate and nourish and grow a child and one can see why people would be willing to stretch the law as far as they could to be able to do this! BUT... does this make it right?

surely every situation IS different.... but what could change the fact that it's a purposeful choice to have purposefully have a child out of wedlock? nothing. b/c regardless of WHY someone does something, the consequences are still real. This will be a child raised without a father - on purpose.