Most pregnancies are a cause for joy, making it easy to know what to say when you hear the announcement. But what if the person who's pregnant is unmarried, feels she's too young, too old, or has too many children already? What if this baby interrupts school, a career, or simply comes when life seems tough enough?
Often Christians respond exactly as the world does—in disappointment and sorrow.
A Gallup poll conducted for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) revealed the following:
- 76 percent of evangelicals believe sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally wrong.
- 77 percent of evangelicals believe abortion is morally wrong.
- 79 percent of evangelicals believe having a baby outside of marriage is morally wrong.
These figures suggest that an unmarried evangelical who unexpectedly becomes pregnant may face a challenging situation in relation to her church community.
"We need to encourage couples to courageously and responsibly honor the gifts of sex and life," says Aaron Mercer, NAE generation forum project director. "The Bible's standard for sex is very clear: abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within it. But when unmarried individuals do have sex and end up conceiving, might they fear rejection from their church family whether or not they carry the baby to term? Whether or not this fear is warranted, we need to consider its possible consequences."
In 12 years of counseling at a local pregnancy center, I observed that the most common fear a woman with an unexpected pregnancy has is in telling her mother, father, or church. As Christians, we have to make the herculean effort of getting over the shock of such news and moving quickly to help the person whose life is being turned upside down.
This is important! One of the things I did at the pregnancy center was post-abortion counseling. It wasn't uncommon to hear that some women had an abortion so they never had to admit the pregnancy to those closest to them, so it becomes the great secret that eats away at them for years to come. Particularly heartbreaking was one woman who had marched in protest picket lines at abortion centers when she was a teenager. When she got pregnant in college, she quietly arranged an abortion because she didn't feel she could tell her mother or her church. When I began to meet with her, she was in her mid-thirties and had been carrying her secret for more than a decade. Her mother still didn't know that she'd had an abortion.