Coping with teen pregnancy is hard - premarital sex and children out of wedlock being against the purpose of marriage and family. But there is help to go forward.
What am I going to do? Being pregnant now is not what I planned. What's my family going to say? What about my fiancé? People won't understand...
Feeling judged and criticized by her neighbors and friends, she seemed very alone. She was young and now the mother of an unborn child.
Her fiancé was a nice guy. He had planned to secretly call off their marriage to save her the shame of open accusation and the consequences that would ensue. As her pregnancy began to show, she decided to visit her older cousin far away from those in her town. She was right. She was going to be criticized for conceiving a child out of wedlock.
Recently, teen pregnancies have been publicized by celebrities like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears. Some teen moms are now becoming celebrities on the shows Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant on MTV.
Although the rate of teen pregnancy in America is the lowest in two decades, that's still 39.1 births per 1,000 women. For striking comparison, "according to the United Nations, the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is nearly nine times higher than in the majority of other developed nations" (Caitlin Hagan, thechart.blogs.cnn.com, April 5, 2011).
It's important to know that, for the human race in general, pregnancy and the sexual relationship that brings it about are reserved by God for marriage alone. But God does forgive, and, with help, unwed mothers can cope, find healing and meet the challenges of parenting.
Facing social stigma, worry and fear
The girl in the particular story we opened with had a very special situation. Her pregnancy was not a result of sex before marriage as it might have appeared. She was Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Her pregnancy was in fact a divine miracle!
Yet Mary still had to cope with an unplanned pregnancy at a young age and face the stigma of people thinking she had sinned in having sex before marriage.
Mary's trust in God allowed her to overcome worry and fear. Her fiancé Joseph believed an angel's assurance that God had intervened, so he proceeded with their marriage. Mary's courage to say, "Let it be to me according to your word," took an incredible amount of faith (Luke 1:38). Both knew that this experience was part of God's master plan. And both submitted to God's will in order to provide Jesus with a loving, stable home.
God and family
God created the family structure with a purpose. In part, He planned for children to be raised by two loving parents so they might learn His ways. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). "And why one? He seeks godly offspring" (Malachi 2:15).
Being joined together in marriage and then having a child is what God planned from creation—not for pregnancies to be outside of marriage. His perfect plan and spiritual law is violated when teens (or adults) engage in sexual activity before marriage, resulting in children born to parents who aren't prepared to be parents.
Another part of the reason for the human family structure is that it reflects the spiritual family God is building through all of us. The Bible in 1 John 3:1-2 says that we will be called the children of God! With God as our Father and Christ as our Brother, we will all live together in harmony forever as the divine family.
By following God's instructions and waiting to engage in sexual activity after marriage, we allow the God-ordained family structure to be established in our own lives.
The road home
But what happens when you or someone you know has already violated God's law? The healing process has to begin—starting with your or that person's relationship with God. The offender must talk with God through prayer, humbly and remorsefully seeking His forgiveness. This involves recognizing the sin and resolving to not commit that sin again.
There is an amazing story about a woman caught in the act of adultery during the time of Jesus' ministry (John 8:1-12). Religious leaders brought her before Him to test Him in judgment, the Mosaic Law having called for adulterers to be stoned to death.
Christ said that He did not condemn her, but He also told her, "Go and sin no more" (verse 11). Don't assume that you can never get your relationship with God back on track after sexual sin. God forgives—if we are willing to truly repent.
Counsel and support
Healing also involves getting help from family and friends. Mary had very strong relationships to help her during her unplanned pregnancy that people attributed to sin. She had a loving fiancé who supported her and stood by her side during the birth of Jesus. Her cousin Elizabeth, also with child, shared in her joy (Luke 1:39).
An important aspect of healing in the case of premarital sex involves rectifying the mistake. Get good counseling about marrying the other parent of the child—if it is a healthy relationship. Marriage is a part of God's goal for a family that will provide the baby a strong, two-parent home to grow up in.
If you and the other parent do not have a positive relationship, then finding appropriate support to raise the child in a right and godly way is vital. Seek the counsel and help of others to make sure the child has positive relationships that will help him or her to grow strong and faithful.
Understanding God's plan can help you if you've already gotten into a bad situation, and His love and way of life can show you how to live a life of faithfulness and joy. God is the ultimate healer of broken family relationships and wrong decisions. Jesus Christ is your perfect support system because He uniquely and personally understands your situation. Turn to Him, for He will one day bring families back together to fulfill that perfect design for the family of God.
To learn more of what God has to say about love, marriage, sex and raising children, send for or download your free copy of our booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension .