"Being pregnant outside of marriage is not a sin" -- A response

Hey DP,

This was very interesting to me. I found some truths in it, but question some of it. Let me know what you think.


Friend


Hey Friend,

This article was interesting. It reminds me of something an ex-girlfriend of mine said once about her pregnancy by her boyfriend: “I am happy! Every child is a gift from God!” Here are my thoughts in blue:


We tend to use words like “unwanted” for a pregnancy that is unplanned. But every baby is wanted by God. He/she is knitted together in a womb, and Jesus has died for that child. We should not use “unwanted” and “unplanned” interchangeably.

This paragraph is confused. When a parent says the child is “unwanted” it has nothing to do with whether or not the child is wanted by another human or by God. When a person says a child is “unwanted,” it is typically short-hand for “unwanted by the parent(s),” not “unwanted by every being who exists.” The point is, a child can very much be unwanted by a parent while simultaneously wanted by other humans and by God. A parent can most certainly use "unwanted" and "unplanned" interchangeably.

When we see this circumstance in someone’s life, we can only imagine how their life will drastically change going forward. Any plans they had before now take a back seat, and the child now takes priority. As single people, we can really get caught up in ourselves, and many times our priority is us. We see anything that keeps us from us as a burden. So when we see this happening to someone else, we tend to take pity on them and treat them as such.

Perhaps it’s because a person without children is only focused on “ourselves.” Perhaps that person is focused on the homeless, or orphans, or maintaining a job to pay for expenses. And in any case, yes: a person can feel disappointed when their priorities are changed, regardless of why they are changed. Feelings are not unhealthy, no matter the cause of the feelings.

God’s Design: His Masterpiece
In Genesis, God created Man in his own image, and in this God says that man is his “masterpiece.”   So God, the creator of the Universe, who formed stars, planets, galaxies—all the marvelous things we see—formed man. And in the middle of all this creation, He stops to take a second look at man, and He says … “this … is … my masterpiece.” God then says that man should not be alone, so he creates a suitable helper and then commands them to “be fruitful and multiply.”

I kinda’ get the point, but the author is wrong at several points: (1) God never created “Man” in His own image, God created male and female in His image (Gen 1:26-27); (2) God never says that “man is his ‘masterpiece’; (3) God didn’t stop “in the middle of all this creation” to say that man is His “masterpiece”—the creation of humankind was the final act of creation before resting.

So that is God’s design for a family: A man and a woman come together as one flesh, and through that He says this is His design for man and woman to have children.

No, God didn’t say that was His design. This is the author’s interpretation of the narrative.

But if we aren’t careful we will communicate that the unplanned child is unwanted and therefore bad. Although having sex before marriage is sin, the pregnancy before marriage isn’t sin.

And then… woah!! Out of nowhere the author’s drum is pulled out and hit yet again. What does the creation of humankind and the command to Adam and Eve have anything to do with “communicating that the unplanned child is unwanted and therefore bad”? Nothing at all. Not to mention, even though it is not made explicit in the text, almost certainly what is implied in the text is that Adam and Eve are the basis of Jewish marriage. In the ancient world, once a man and woman got married, the man went to the woman’s house (which was her father’s) to have sex and eventually moved her back to his home. It was immoral throughout Judaism to have sex outside of marriage. Always. This means that any child born outside of marriage was treated with contempt and the mother was treated as “damaged goods.” Such women would hardly, if ever, have found a man to marry the rest of her life.

God wants our hearts; He wants us to come out of where we are and come running right back into relationship with him. And whatever we’ve done, He’s going to use it for good. That’s the good news of “… all things work together for good …” (Romans 8:28).

Now we’re way off subject. I don’t know where this pervasive Christianese anecdote comes from (= “God wants our hearts”) but it sure doesn’t mean what people think it means. In my experience, and I think here too, it means, “God wants us to feel loving feelings toward Him or intend well.” God wants our hearts, minds, thoughts, bodies, and behavior. He wants it all. And “wanting our heart” is often used as an excuse to do whatever you want to do as long as “you give God your heart.” That is biblical nonsense. You can’t “give God your heart” if you haven’t given Him your complete devotion and habits too. This means keeping your pants zipped up.

The second sentence is quite disturbing. The author is saying, “it doesn’t matter what you do because God will use it for good.” This is a very disturbing consquentialist ethic that asserts that if the consequence/end is good, the means doesn’t matter. Surely this is nonsense to any Christian. Why not just murder? Rape? Pillage? Gossip? Lie? Kill babies? If in the end, it doesn’t matter because God will use it for “the good,” why not go ahead? Paul’s point in Romans 8 (i.e., the actual, historical point) certainly doesn’t allow us to go ahead and do whatever because everything works out for good. Does the author think that Paul, the Jew, would have said Rom. 8:28 about the Holocaust had he lived that long to see it? My Lord…

God wants his best for you.
So yes, if you are having sex before marriage, you are going against what the Lord has designed sex to be for. But all of that is redeemable. God uses very strong messages to get our attention, and the correct approach to this is to understand that God wants His best for you and that He wants you to come away from that lifestyle because He has something much better in store for you.

Three points: (1) Yes, God can “redeem” us and our sins. (2) I don’t know what “very strong message” the author means here, so I don’t know what to say about it. (3) God wants the “best for you” only and always within His Kingdom. Whenever people leave this saying un-nuanced like this author has, it always implies that God is some genie-wish-granter or cosmic Santa Claus who just has some picky ways of doing things. "But,…in the end…He just wants the best for us" (which usually implies that we’re happy—notice the final line of “much better in store for you.”) If this is implied, this is nonsense. What is “much better in store for you” could be living a life of celibacy, or selling all your possessions and giving them to the poor, or leaving all of your friends and family because they only tempt you to sin, or committing to twelve years of advanced degrees so that you can teach medicine…etc. In other words, the way God makes things “redeemable” is by having us do it His way. And a byproduct of that, of course, is that it’s “better for us.” But who cares if it’s better for us? He’s the King.

This is a time of rejoicing!
“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).
We need to remember that a pregnancy is a time of rejoicing, not mourning. If a single female tells you that she is pregnant, congratulate her and tell her you’re happy for her. Right now she needs the encouragement and support of anyone she comes in contact with. Spark dialogue and ask how things have been going and how you can help.
If you are in this situation, I encourage you to become a part a support group at your local church or look for organizations such as Embrace Grace.

Again, Psalm 127:3 was written by and for Jews who were married when they had kids. As far as I know the literature, there is no verse that says this sentiment for Jewish women who were unmarried.

Again, the author's back to telling people how they can feel. Pregnancy might cause terrible grief. So what? Let women and men feel what they want to feel. Support them in their feelings and don’t tell them how to feel.

Maybe that single mom does need encouragement. Perhaps she does need a support group (and Lord knows I’m a huge proponent of support groups!). In addition, perhaps she needs some truth about what God wants in sexuality. Perhaps the best way to prohibit more children out of wedlock is to tell her about the way God designed sex to be used in His Kingdom.

It seems to me that this author has several things confused to wrap up:

First, the act of having sex outside of marriage is absolutely, clearly a sin. Jesus said there are two options for sexuality: within heterosexual marriage or none at all (read Matthew 19). And if a person is pregnant and unmarried, it means that two people have sinned. This better cause deep sorrow and grief. It better lead to confession and repentance.

Second, now that the consequence of that sin is growing in the mother, the child should never, ever, ever be punished for the sins of the parents. Murdering a child (= abortion) because the parents sinned (either through willful sinning or because the father was a rapist) is absolutely immoral. Plans should be made to take care of the child through any means necessary (that are legal and Christian).

What about the child? Is the child just a “sin baby?” No. Of course not. The child—from the millisecond s/he became a zygote—is a human. All humans have value given by God. The child born out of marriage should be treated with the exact same care and love as every other child who is born within marriage.

Can a woman be sad about the pregnancy? Of course! The parents can grieve the sinful error of sex outside of marriage. The parents can grieve that all of their previous plans have now changed to some degree. Sure. That would make anyone sad. I could be just as sad if someone gave me a really nice house and car as a gift that I must immediately take care of, support, and provide for the next eighteen years. It’s an awesome gift! But now my whole life just got changed. (I know it’s an imperfect analogy: giving me a house/car is not a child, and the gift giving is not sinful. The point of the analogy is that I’m given something really great that requires my immediate attention and changes my plans. This would cause me some degree of sorrow because of the changed plans and requirements placed upon me.)

Can I be happy about the child? Yes. I can be happy about the child but not happy about the way the child was conceived. (Another analogy: I can be happy that I received an inheritance, but not happy that my parents had to die so that I could receive the inheritance.)


Do I have to grieve this fact forever? Of course not. Grieve it, confess it, and move on. It’s time to be a Christian parent. 

That's my view anyway.