During a panel discussion at my Christian college years ago, one scholar explained that bearing children is God's plan for womanhood, referencing 1 Timothy 2:15—"Women will be saved through childbearing." A graduate student stood up and addressed him tearfully, "I have just learned that I can never have children. Where is there room in your gospel for me?" The panelist paused for a long time. Then he said, in a broken voice, "I don't have a theology for that." There was no resolution, just pain.

What I witnessed that day was one of the rare moments when such pain is acknowledged out loud; the rest of the time, much of the Christian community can seem oblivious to the agony of women who do not want to be childless but find themselves aching as they read Bible passages celebrating motherhood and watch moms get their Mother's Day carnations at church each year. If we consider stats on infertility from the Centers for Disease Control, at least 1 in 10 women in our pews won't receive a carnation, no matter how desperate they are to become mothers.

During the anguished time when a woman from my church was trying to conceive, she asked for prayer from a Christian coworker. "She flat out told me that I wasn't getting pregnant because I didn't have enough faith. I wanted to hit her," my friend said. Another friend was repeatedly told, after each miscarriage, "It must be that God has a reason." She was sitting next to me in our small group when an older woman, herself childless, beamed at my pregnant belly and said, "What a blessing, so many babies in our church!" The older woman then looked around and said, "Isn't it wonderful, ...

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