Essentially, human reproduction and kinship varies cross culturally due to various interpretations of religious texts and diverse societal expectations and standards. For instance, in the first two chapters of Genesis, God creates man “in his own image” (Genesis 1). This phrase can have multiple interpretations such as humans look like God, humans have rationality like God, or that humans can morally discriminate like God, and different cultures possess various understandings of how humans are in God’s image. Fundamentally, the first two chapters of genesis function as a cosmology, a theory of how elements and aspects in the universe fit together, and this cosmology exemplifies kinship and marriage values as well as gender roles. In marriage, males should dominate the household to enforce good, and the wife should follow the leadership of the man. Also, the wife and husband relationship is depicted as a union of souls rather than two people making a commitment to one another. In addition, since the woman was the first of the humans to commit a sin, it is also a stepping stone for the male to become the dominant gender in order to subdue his wife’s darkest desires. Moreover, because woman was created from man, it displays and evokes a sense of male dominance. Furthermore, in Genesis, God tells man and woman “to be fruitful and multiply”(Genesis 4). In Jewish tradition, the Rabbi interprets this phrase as humans are obligated to reproduce. However, the Catholic Church believes having children is a privilege not an obligation. Additionally, Catholics follow natural law, which is both an agreement with scripture and an agreement with reasoning, and natural law prompts them to believe that assisted reproductive technology is permissible when it is in the context of a legitimate marriage (marriage recognized by biology and society) and does not allow the third party to intervene with the marriage’s moral and social values. The Catholic church also believes, in respect to natural law, that reproductive technology enables man to dominate the process of procreation, which impels him to surpass the limits of ” reasonable dominion” over nature (Cahill 2). However, natural law in Judaism is much less central than in Catholicism; instead, Judaism abides by positivistic law, which examines loopholes in religious text in order to ensure the well-being and happiness of society. For instance, in Israel, motherhood is believed to be the most primal and natural goal for women, which is why Israel is a pro-natal state and the Israeli government funds access to reproductive technology. Additionally, in Israeli society, most women chose artificial insemination because they believed it was better than having sexual relations with a man, it was less expensive and less complex than adoption, and it presented the opportunity to have one’s own genetic children who are respected in society as ” legitimate, full-fledged Jews” (Kahn 141). In contrast, the Catholic church believes artificial fertilization constitutes a violation of reciprocal commitment of the spouses and it violates the rights of the child by depriving him of his true personal identity and his parents. These differences are partially attributed to specific characteristics and motivations of a society. For example, the majority of Israeli society is secular, and they make decisions and take actions based on what maximizes their happiness rather than what fulfills their religious obligations. Chiefly, the Catholic church advocates that political authority should guarantee juridical protection to the institution of the nuclear family, which society is based upon. This is quite disparate from how the Israeli government subsides assisted reproductive technology, but these two societies have different goals: The catholic church wants to preserve the foundation of the nuclear family while the Israeli Jews desire to pursue motherhood as it is the most central goal of the country and it is what makes them content. Overall, human reproduction and kinship varies across cultures due to diverse understandings of religious texts and various societal values and customs.
Book of Genesis, chapters 1-2 <www.webpages.uidaho.edu/PDF/166/20Genesis.pdf)>.
Donum Vitae In Shanon, Thomas A. and Lisa Sowle Cahill, Religion and Artificial Reproduction: An Inquiry into the Vatican “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Reproduction.” (Crossroad, 1988).
Susan Martha Kahn, Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel (Duke University Press, 2000).