Recently a vexing scenario presented itself to a Christian educational institution. One of its graduate was pregnant and the administration made the decision to not allow her to participate in the graduation ceremony. As an aside I attended the graduation of a High School and apparently there is a new phenomenon where graduates want to walk across the stage with their children in their arms (keep in mind I am speaking of High School graduations primarily). The High School administration quickly shut down the practice after two graduates made it safely across the stage.
I know I have struggled as an more mature and grounded Evangelical with the dilemma of how to properly respond to a situation where a couple bring a child into the world outside of holy matrimony. I must confess this is a personal matter as I had my first child outside of wedlock. I still remember the nagging feeling in my soul when my girlfriend (future wife, thankfully) and I announced she was pregnant. My nagging feeling arose when people, well-meaning of course, said, “congratulations.”
While all fair-minded Evangelicals fervently and unapologetically affirm life at every stage there is still the issue of fornication. I decided to pull my family from the church I grew up in as a youth primarily because there was an epidemic of unmarried females getting pregnant. The sheer number of “baby showers” with no remorse or repentance was not an environment I wanted to raise my three small children.
Let me be clear: I am always champion life and the issue of abortion is a non-starter. In fact, I know I am in the minority but I do not even favor abortion in the question of rape or even the threat of health to the mother.
Attending a R.C. Sproul conference one of the speakers, Dr. Robert Godfrey, made a statement that has stuck with me. Evangelicals need to be as against fornication in our ranks as we are against homosexuality and other sexual sins committed by non-believers.
The High School administration stated how they agonized over their decision to not allow the young female student to “walk” and I will take them at their words as I can only imagine how difficult decisions like this are. I certainly would not want someone “second-guessing” my parental decisions regarding the level of discipline I decided to employ. This is no Biblical guidance on the length and breadth of discipline. The Bible doesn’t instruct parents how many paddles on the derrière are sufficient. The Administration stated they prayed and I will trust God for His very best in that matter.
I believe the Universal Church must do a better job of policing itself. We play particular attention to adultery, as well we should. Yet, I believe we give single people a free pass. We give our young brothers and sisters who are “dating” a pass. The church gave my future wife and I a “pass.” Yes, we were in a committed relationship but we were still sleeping together and no one challenged us to live holy. It was accepted yet I better understand how much it grieved a Holy God.
Peggy Noonan, speechwriter to President Reagan and others, recounted her attendance of a high school graduation where the crowd cheered wildly for a female student who was well along in her pregnancy. There was a time when if a female “got pregnant” she was sent “down south” to have the baby. There was a stigma attached to a unmarried female having a baby. Peggy Noonan lamented this began her understanding of America’s embrace of the sexual revolution. Years later we see what many have feared has materialized. Frankly, it will only get worse.
As a result, Evangelicals must passionately seek God’s offer of wisdom. We want to affirm life at every point along the continuum but we still must maintain proper sexual ethics. I thank the young lady for bravely deciding to bring the infant in her womb to term but there are still negative consequences for negative moral actions.
God has decreed, without ambiguity, where and how the sexual ethic is to be lived. Getting pregnant, while not the unpardonable sin, is still SIN. King David demonstrated that reality. There is always a reckoning to be had when we transgress God’s commandments.
I write as the father of three young adults children who thankfully have no children. That is fine as none of them are married. In fact, I long to be a graddaddy so I can spoil my future grandkids. Yet, if one of my children would come home and announce they were having a child outside of wedlock my first words would not be “Congratulations.” I don’t know what my first words would be but I certainly know what my emotions would be: Sorrow and Grief. Not embarrassment because of how it would make me look. Sorrow because it is not God’s best and His Spirit would be grieved!
Of course, I would still want to validate the fetus as God’s sovereign choice to bring another life into existence but I would not attend a baby shower or gleefully announce “I am about to be a granddad.” I would love this grandchild and walk every step of the way with my son or daughter but there would have to be an acknowledgment of sin and explicit act(s) of repentance like going before the body of Christ and confessing the sin of fornication.
It is not “either/or.” It is “both/and.” We uphold sexual integrity without compromise and we uphold the value and dignity of human life at all costs.
I salute the Christian Institution in question. I know it was not an easy decision. It never is. I also hope and pray for God’s very best for the mother, the unidentifed father, but most importantly the truly only “innocent victim, in this vexing dilemma: the child!
I welcome your input as we attempt to wrestle with these “thorny issues.”
Keeping my hand to the plow and seeking to finish my Fourth Quarter strong💪!