Third party assisted reproduction and the Episcopal Church: a practical theological study
Tumminio, Danielle Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
Given the rapidly changing nature of third party reproduction, there is an increasing need for pastoral guidance about the use of these technologies and the relationships that develop from them. This dissertation explores theological bases upon which Episcopalians can ground their practice of third party reproduction, with implications for the wider Church. Beginning with a study of Episcopal clergy and their present practices, this dissertation engages Episcopal, womanist, and feminist theological resources to forge a practical theological response. It highlights layered practices, including the development of relationships between third parties and intended parents, the abuse of third parties, and disclosure to children that call for theological reinterpretations of family, the ministerial vision of Jesus, and the doctrine of God. The thesis of this dissertation is that third party procedures offer an opportunity for Christians to enrich their relationships with one another and with God in unique and--literally--life-giving ways. The argument unfolds with qualitative research findings from Episcopal clergy interviews and it documents how the writings of F.D. Maurice and David H. Smith provide additional context for an Episcopal practical theology. It then turns to the work of Delores Williams for the purpose of arguing that, while contemporary third party reproduction potentially casts third parties as scapegoats, it does not necessarily do so. In response, it develops a six-fold application of William's ministerial vision to prevent abuse. This model in turn provides resources for Episcopal clergy to use in pastoral conversations. The next chapter discusses Sallie McFague's metaphorical theology to argue that American culture upholds the biological family as a model much as Christians have upheld patriarchal language as a model. It advocates for new language to express the God-human relationship that might in turn support the construction of broader metaphors for family relationships. Finally, this dissertation incorporates these findings into practical theological themes and questions that Episcopal priests can utilize in their work. It advocates for applying discernment when navigating loyalty claims, for thinking about reproduction as a calling, for broader constructions of family, for building awareness of how autonomy can facilitate idolatry, for encouraging disclosure and healthy boundaries, and for composing liturgies for those participating in third party procedures.