God's Grace in Unplanned Pregnancies
Incredibly, on the human level, the salvation of the human race was dependent on a young, single mother. Yes, God entrusted the birth of His Son to a young woman who would then raise Him, doing her best to teach and prepare Him to accept the responsibility of suffering in order to redeem the world. After Joseph married his pregnant bride, he would adopt her child as his own son, and eventually Mary would have other children. But Mary experienced her first pregnancy as an unwed mother.
No wonder we honor Mary. She didn’t sign up for this responsibility. God wasn’t asking for volunteers—He took the initiative and chose a young woman living in the despised town of Nazareth to bear His Son. And, to her everlasting credit, she accepted her unplanned pregnancy beautifully, in humble submission coupled with deep piety.
But this leads me to ask: what do we say to other young women, past and present, who become pregnant, not by the Holy Spirit, but by a sinful sexual relationship with a man they now quite possibly despise? What do we say to those young mothers who are tempted to have an abortion because of the shame and hardship that awaits them if they carry their child to term? And, to put it in theological terms, can God take a child who, strictly speaking, should not have been born and use that child for His glory? Thankfully, the answer is yes.
To young women who experience an unwanted pregnancy, we must say something like this: when you are confronted with the reality of your pregnancy, and you believe that your future has been ruined, remember that although you cannot see beyond tomorrow, God can, and does. Some day when you look back at your dilemma, you might well see the special blessing of God upon your life and the life of your child.
We must help these women deal with reconciliation issues. The mother must take accountability of her own part in the sinful relationship that produced the pregnancy. In some instances the mother has had clear responsibility; in other instances she might have been the victim of sexual pressure or even rape. These matters must be sorted out with wise discussions filled with grace and acceptance.
Regardless, God is present to forgive, to restore, and to help.
And sadly, young women in these circumstances are often angry, very angry because they bear the entire weight of the consequences of the relationship, whereas so often the father has left and is possibly already in a similar relationship with someone else. The greatest danger is that these young women pass on this anger toward their child who comes into the world created in God’s image and having no responsibility for the relationship that begat them. The child comes into the world needing loving acceptance and dignity.
We must remind such women that they are carrying a child that God may choose to use mightily. There are many instances in which an unplanned baby grew up to become a great man or woman of God.
God’s Grace in Unplanned Pregnancies
Q: The Bible is largely silent about this, but don’t you think other people shamed Mary because they heard she was pregnant out of wedlock? And, no one would have believed her story about the father of her child being God.
A: Yes, there are hints that Mary and Joseph were shamed because she was pregnant before they were married. When the Pharisees said to Jesus, “We were not born of sexual immorality” (John 8:41), it might have been intended to mean: “We are not like you.”
There is a lesson here for us. We don’t need to accept the shame that others put upon us whether the accusations are false (as in the case of Mary) or true. As God’s children, we have to remind ourselves that when we are in fellowship with Him, and we stand in Christ’s righteousness, other people’s condemnation cannot destroy us. Our shame was put upon Christ, and because He “shamed shame” we need no longer live under its power (Hebrews 12:2).
Q: Are there examples of how God has used men and women who were conceived out of wedlock?
A: Absolutely. Plenty of examples. We would have been greatly impoverished if we had not had the courageous witness of the martyr Felix Manz who was forcibly drowned in the River Limmat in Zurich, Switzerland for holding to his convictions. He was the son of a woman who had a sexual relationship with a priest. We can only imagine the shame and hardship she endured when she discovered she was pregnant, but she held true to the faith and was present when her son was drowned, encouraging him to remain true to the faith. Other examples are the great Reformation scholar Erasmus, and the famous singer, Ethel Waters, who was born because her mother had been raped. Ethel frequently sang at Billy Graham crusades and became known for singing, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
And finally, I mention James Robison, who with his wife, Betty, is seen around the world on their program, “Life Today.” James was conceived when his mother was raped in a laundromat. She wanted to get an abortion, but was unable to. Today, we are glad to say that her son has preached the Gospel to millions.
Q: : Doesn’t the genealogy of Jesus give us hope that God can take sinners of all kinds and incorporate them into His plan and purpose?
A: Yes, Rahab the harlot is in the genealogy of Jesus, and she became the mother of Boaz who married Ruth the Moabites, who is also included in the Davidic line. Solomon is also listed, a man who should never have been born, because, if you recall, he was the son of Bathsheba who should never have been David’s wife. Yet, there he is blessed and loved by God.
The bottom line is that God can take failures of all kinds, including sexual sins, and weave them into His purposes and plans. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).
Most importantly: we must allow His grace to enter our hearts.