Finding out your unwed daughter is pregnant is a shock no Christian parent wants to face, but many do. Try as hard as we might, we cannot keep our children from the consequences of their sin. So what can you do if your unwed, church-raised daughter becomes pregnant?
Tricia Goyer, once an unwed, teen mom herself, offers some excellent advice for parents in this situation in her blog post, When Your Church-Raised Daughter is Pregnant.
Though emotions are running high, Tricia encourages Mom and Dad to “take a deep breath… and remember that even more important than winning this battle is staying connected with your daughter’s heart.” She offers two ways to do that.
First, offer lots of love and grace. This is not necessarily the time for tough love. If your daughter understands the gospel, Tricia explains, she already knows she has sinned. What she needs now is love and grace. Remind your daughter (and yourself!) that though she is dealing with the consequences of sin, God’s loves us and his grace is always available to us. Support her in her decision to choose life for her unborn child.
If you have younger, impressionable children, Tricia offers this advice: “Sit down with all them and be very open and upfront about the choices your daughter made. Talk about what God’s Word says and why His way is a better way. Also, pray together for their sister and this baby.”
Second, equip her for motherhood. If we are truly pro-life, we will care for the safety and well being of children not just in the womb, but throughout all of life. Helping your daughter prepare for motherhood is one way to do this. Tricia recommends reading through books on motherhood together. If your daughter is considering adoption, helping her find a reputable adoption agency is a must.
Your first reaction to this shocking news might be to shun or kick your daughter out of your home, but Crosswalk contributor Chuck Snyder strongly advices against this. In a letter to parents who decided to kick their child out after she became pregnant, Snyder writes,
“The thing that helps me the most, is to remember that God forgave me of my sins, so it really isn't that much to ask of us that we forgive others…now the project is to treat your daughter with unconditional love when you do have contact with her.
If she came back, I would accept her with open arms like the prodigal son's father did in the Bible. In fact, it says that he saw him coming from a "distance," which implies to me that the father was looking for his son. I don't know if you can do this, but I really do think it would change both of your lives.”
What should the church do when one of their own finds herself unmarried and pregnant? Again, if the church claims to be pro-life but has no available resources or support systems for unplanned pregnancies, are we really as pro-life as we claim?
Jennifer Maggio, founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, strongly pleads with the church to consider how to support these women.
“Do you realize that MOST women abort because they simply do not feel they can effectively parent the child? Whether it be finances, young ages, emotional stability, or parenting skills, these women feel overwhelmed and scared. So here’s my question:
What is it that you, the church, are doing about it?
Although there are some incredible pregnancy crisis clinics out there and awesome initiatives to save unborn children, the work is not done!
67% of all single parents do not actively attend church. Many cite fear of judgment as a primary reason.
Once we save the child via a pregnancy crisis center or caring conversation with a friend, what is the next step? Where do you send her? How do you support her? What about when the child is now five and the mother is overwhelmed and exhausted?”
By creating single-parenting ministries and offering to be extra hands and feet for scared, unsupported mothers, the church has the opportunity to show the love of grace of Christ.
Helping an unwed mother does not mean you are disregarding her sin. When the woman who had been caught in adultery was brought to the temple to be publicly put to death, Jesus didn’t tell her or the Pharisees that she was sinless. In fact, he acknowledged her sin and commanded her to “from now on sin no more.”
But Jesus also protected her, reminding her executioners of their own sin and challenging them to throw a stone only if they were sinless. After saving the woman from death, Jesus offered her grace. “Neither do I condemn you,” he told her.
Can we, as a church, give both grace and truth to unwed mothers (and fathers), just as we do for those who have sinned in other ways? I cannot image our Savior wanting us to respond in any other way.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.