On Wednesday, Pastor John, you answered the question of whether or not a premarital pregnancy nullifies the “unequally yoked” prohibition of a believer marrying an unbeliever. Today, the scenario changes. Today we talk about a pregnancy between two professing believers who sinned together. The question comes in from William.
“Hello, Pastor John. I became a Christian about two years ago, even though I grew up in a ‘Christian household.’ I am now greatly troubled to admit that I had sex with my girlfriend, whom I met at church a few months ago. We are devastated at the sin we have committed together, despite the times we said we would not. Now, I fear, my girlfriend is pregnant. I have frantically listened to every podcast about abortion. I am such a hypocrite to let my mind even entertain this as an option when for years I declared that I never would. But I am scared. Assuming this is true, what do we do? How have you counseled couples who are broken and fearful in our situation?”
William, I don’t know your age. I don’t know your maturity, or your spiritual condition, or your parents, or your church. All of my counsel here will have to be general and the best I can do, not knowing your situation more closely.
We are going get to the point where I’m going to say, “Don’t lean only on my counsel. Go to your pastor.” But let’s get there. It seems to me that you are genuinely contrite, and since the magnitude of the sin and the heartache that you have caused is huge, and may even get worse, let me begin with a few encouraging things.
First, the fact that you, as the man in this couple, have written to me, and you didn’t dump that responsibility onto your girlfriend, is a good sign. You have taken responsibility and initiative, and that’s good. I’ll come back to that in just a minute because your manhood and what you make of it is a huge issue right now.
“Don’t despair because you don’t know what the future holds. God calls you to faithful, obedient decisions right now.”
Second, do not entertain any thoughts that you have sinned your way out of Christ or out of heaven. Those would be thoughts of the devil and his accusation. If you confess your sins, and humble yourself before Christ as your Lord and Savior and Treasure, you will be forgiven. You will be given strength to do what is right in this situation.
Your life may be very troubled short term or even long term because of this sin. But God will turn all those troubles for your sanctification if you will trust him, turn from sin, and devote yourself utterly to Jesus.
Take Courageous Initiative
Here’s what I would recommend. Yes, I have spoken to others in your situation and told them these very things.
First, you, William, are a man. That means that you bear a peculiar and primary responsibility for leadership in this relationship. That means that your sexual sin is aggravated by your failure to steward this leadership.
I’m not at all denying that your girlfriend bears responsibility and complicity in the sin. She should’ve said no and kicked you out. But I am saying that the man — you — bears a greater responsibility and is charged by God to protect and care for and lead her. Even if she did in some way lure you into this, that’s irrelevant when it comes to your unique, God-given responsibility as the man in this relationship.
Now that you have misused that calling as a man, you have failed to steward that special responsibility. You have a chance in this terrible situation to redeem at least your role as a courageous, initiative-taking, humble leader in doing what is right, which will be very difficult.
Believe me, the temptation will be to do just the opposite. You will want to blame shift, have self-pity, fear, pout, be moody, and withdraw. That’s what men fall prey to. They abandon their manhood, and they abandon the path of Jesus when they do that.
These are all failures of Christian manhood. Don’t go there. Take the initiative in doing the right thing.
Save the Baby
That means, first, that you are the one who will say, “We will not kill this baby. We brought this baby unlawfully into the world, and we will not add to the unlawfulness of our creation the unlawfulness of its destruction. No, we won’t.”
Take the lead and be courageous for the cause of justice and mercy and life.
Confess Your Sin
Next, leadership here means leadership in repentance — setting the tone for not minimizing the sin and taking the lead to go to both sets of parents.
“This will be huge test of your faith, but you will discover that Jesus is a great Savior, a great friend, and a sufficient counselor.”
Go to both sets of parents and confess your sins. Then go to your pastor and confess your sin, because membership in a local church implies a lifestyle that is exemplary, which this isn’t.
Confessing to her parents will probably be the hardest thing. In some settings, it could cost you your life. I’m not kidding. In some cultures, it would cost you your life to do this. It’s the right thing to do.
This is where you man up. You call her father on the telephone, and you tell him you need to talk to him face to face, and you need to do it soon.
You meet with him and you look him in the eye and you confess, “I failed to protect your daughter.” I don’t care if she took the initiative or somehow lured you into this. You tell him you failed to protect his daughter, and you inform him of the situation, and you take responsibility. You don’t make her the culprit. You do the same with your parents. You own your sin. You do what is right. This is your mission.
Become a Listener
Then, you become a listener, because you’re going to get clobbered — big time. I’m guessing your going to hear it from these parents. Maybe not. I don’t know, I don’t know anything about them. I don’t know if they’re believers.
You need to become a listener, not just to me as a distant counselor who knows very little about the situation or about you or your girlfriend, but a listener to her parents and your parents and your pastor.
If her parents are unbelievers, and want you to get an abortion, you tell them in all meekness and strength that you don’t support that. You tell them you don’t agree with that, and as much as you have any say in it, you won’t go there.
You give them your best biblical explanation. Then hopefully, when the shock and the initial anger eases, everyone will be able to put their heads together and think through a more just and merciful and hopeful future.
Share the Load
Another thing that your leadership implies is the realization that your girlfriend will bear the greater weight immediately and practically for this sin. She must carry this baby now, give birth to the baby, and sustain the baby in those early months. This will be a huge alteration in her life.
This is why we have so many abortions, because mothers and fathers put their own plans ahead of the life of the child. As a mature Christian, a man, you will realize your girlfriend’s heavy load in all of this, and you will do everything in your power to lighten her load. And killing children doesn’t lighten her load. It doesn’t.
You will help her through this because you are the one who bears most responsibility for it as a man who didn’t own up to your peculiar responsibilities.
Don’t Rush into Marriage
With regard to the possibility of marrying each other, I would say don’t go there just for the baby’s sake. I don’t know enough about you and your girlfriend to know whether marriage is advisable or not.
You’ve known each other only two months — at least, when you wrote the question, that was the case. That’s not enough to go on. You need time to know each other and whether a lifetime commitment would be advisable. If it turns out that marriage is advisable, and your parents approve, that would probably be the best outcome. But in any case, don’t despair because you don’t know what the future holds.
God calls you to faithful, obedient decisions right now. He does not assume that you can foresee all the consequences of those choices. That’s his great work. He works everything together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28), even though we can’t imagine how that could be.
What I’m calling you to, William, is to dig down deep into the resources of Scripture and the Holy Spirit and faith to do the kinds of things that God especially calls a man to do in a crisis like this.
This will be the hardest season of your life, so far at least. It will be a huge test of your faith and your manhood, and you will discover that Jesus is a great Savior and a great friend and a sufficient counselor.