The Disaster Of Surrogate Motherhood


Genesis 16


Pure and simple, Hagar was the world’s first surrogate mother (Genesis 16). And it proved disastrous. Isaac and Ishmael were raised as brothers under two completely different value systems as reflected in the value systems of their respective mothers. Abraham would have liked nothing more than for “Why can’t we all just get along?” But getting along wasn’t possible. The significant reason why “we” could never get along is that Isaac was the son of promise, and Ishmael was Abraham’s first born. Ishmael was entitled to receive the promise of Genesis 15:18b-21, and for about the first 13 years of Ishmael’s life, Abraham, Sarah and Hagar alike were grooming Ishmael to be the child of promise. But the promise was received through Isaac. And that battle continues today.


It gets worse for Isaac and Ishmael. “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking (Genesis 21:9).” The inference is that Ishmael is somehow mocking Isaac. Of course “mocking” can mean a lot of things. Ishmael was 14 years older than Isaac. If Isaac was 4, then Ishmael would have been 18. The age difference alone tells a story.


It’s a matter of wisdom to discern at what point enough evidence has been placed before you to draw a conclusion. Yet this one actually resonates. The Hebrew word for “mocking” in Genesis 21:9 is mesacheq. The next time we see Isaac and mesacheq in the same context is Genesis 26:8. Isaac is doing something to Rebekah, his wife. Again, it isn’t obvious exactly what that activity is. But whatever it was, it cued Abimelech in that Isaac and Rebekah were not brother and sister.


If Ishmael in Genesis 21:9 was doing to Isaac what Isaac in Genesis 26:8 did to Rebekah, that is, what Isaac and Rebekah were doing that exposed they were a married couple, then Sarah’s response seems much more natural. “Abraham, get them out of our lives (paraphrase of Genesis 21:10)!” It’s not likely a little ridicule between brothers would have excited Abraham very much. But a fondling, or worse, of a son just weaned would have certainly been “very grievous in Abraham’s sight (Genesis 21:11).”


Surrogate motherhood is a bad idea.


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