Blog 1 – Vijaya Reddy

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 <>.

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).

6 Replies to “Blog 1 – Vijaya Reddy”

  1. Hi Vijaya!
    It is very interesting that you brought up the differences between Catholic and Jewish views on specifically the definition of reproduction, as one sees it as a privilege and the the other sees it as a obligation. I think I would have liked to add this difference, as well as other clear defining points the Catholics consider okay concerning technological support for conception that you have brought up in your post. Great job at describing both religious sides clearly!

  2. Hi Vijaya! I really enjoyed reading your post and your ability to effectively weave together many of the readings we’ve done so far. I thought it was especially interesting how you made the point that Jewish and Christian law are vastly different from one another specifically by how Judaism abides by positivistic law and is much less central than in Catholicism. I think the lecture today with the in-depth look at Kahn’s enthnography supports this as well. I thought you did a very nice job of explaining concepts that argue for, especially when you describe why the Catholic church views IVF practices as an infringement to the sacred marital bond between man and woman as well as a disservice to the child. I also appreciate your description of the different motivations of both the Christian community and Israeli society because I think this gives a better understanding to not only how both religious perform with the natural law, but also why they do so. I would be curious to know your opinion on one of the latter arguments you make regarding the Church’s protection of the nuclear family. Do you think that the Israeli community seeks to provide the same protection? Or do you think the progression of new medical technologies contributes to the slowly dissolving idea of the need for a nuclear family?

    1. Thank You for replying to my blog! To answer your question, I think the Israeli community as a whole does not see the preservation of the nuclear family as essential to their social and moral values. While I do think that the arrival of new medical technologies has definitely contributed to the dissolving of the need for a nuclear family, I think that for most Israeli women, having children gives them happiness and a purpose to life. Ultimately, for Israeli women, their desire to be happy and devote their life to raising children outweighs their regard for the institution of the nuclear family.

  3. Hi Vijaya! Likewise, I appreciate your laying out of the differences between Judaism and Catholicism. On Danielle’s comment, do you think that while the nuclear family is still valued, the medical technologies have not so much dissolved the idea of the need for a nuclear family, but rather emphasized the importance/right to a child a woman has and this has just encouraged more single-parents children “alternative” to a nuclear family rather than setting the nuclear family as a prerequisite for child-bearing? Thank you!!

    1. Thank you for replying to my blog, Addy! I do not think the medical technologies have emphasized the right a woman has to conceive a child; instead, I think that these new technologies have paved a way for Israeli women to obtain motherhood without conforming themselves to marriage or accepting the reality of infertility. While some people in Israel value the nuclear family institution, the Israeli community as a whole does not see the nuclear family as crucial to maintaining their moral and social values. The Israeli community encourages and respects motherhood, and these reproductive technologies provide a way for Israeli women to explore life beyond the realms of the traditional nuclear family setting.

  4. Hi Vijaya,

    Thank you so much for your post. It is well-written and very well argued. I have just a few comments to help you improve for your next post. Please keep formatting in mind and try to use paragraphs. Think of these blog posts like an academic essay, and if you can, write a introductory paragraph and conclusion. You lay out your thesis immediately, but feel free to start with something that grabs my attention, and then give me your thesis later in the same paragraph. Using this formatting will also help you with the organization and flow of your post. Otherwise, you have great ideas in here and it is well-reasoned. Bravo!

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