I found out via Facebook that one of my young cousins is expecting a baby. She’s 21 now, so it’s not exactly a teen pregnancy, but she isn’t married to her baby’s father and neither of them have much in the way of education or career prospects, and they’re both still living at home. It doesn’t take much intelligence to deduce that this wasn’t a planned pregnancy.
But if my first reaction is to think, “how could she make such a stupid choice? why would she have s*x before getting married anyway? doesn’t she know that’s how babies happen? she should have made sure she was in a better financial position before moving ahead with a family” – then I really don’t believe, in my heart of hearts, the full truth of the pro-life position.
If, then, my second thought is along the lines of, “at least she’s keeping the baby instead of killing it – but this is going to make her life so much harder, and it won’t be good for the baby either, and honestly she deserves it for her foolish choices that brought this baby into existence in the first place” – then all my words about how babies are a blessing from God, how every baby should be valued and fought for and given the love of its parents, are empty and hypocritical.
Was it a poor choice to be intimate before marriage? Undoubtedly – there’s a reason God commands us not to do that. But that doesn’t mean everything that follows from that poor choice is a punishment, consequence, or negative outcome. God is in the business of forgiveness and redemption, after all, and maybe this gift of new life is part of His plan of giving grace and renewing all things.
Is it foolish, in the estimation of this world, to have a child before finances and jobs and future plans are all figured out? Yes, of course! Financial security is the idol of our culture, and a baby makes establishing that security more difficult than just about anything else. But God tells us that a baby is a blessing, not a curse: that the love that baby brings, and the joy of making a family, and the virtues that bloom as a family grows while following Him, are worth more than anything money could promise. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, and all that. To set aside this opportunity for multiplied love in the name of money – to close our hearts and our bodies to a great blessing and pursue our own comfort and convenience instead – that is truly foolish.
Will having a baby right now make her life harder? Of course, of course it will. No matter when a baby comes, it makes life harder for its parents! Rather than glossing over her choice to keep the baby and focusing on her choices before the baby was conceived – rather than emphasizing her mistakes, in other words – our heart as pro-life Christians should be to praise her, to thank God for her courage and her strength, that despite the incredible hardship this baby may bring her as an unmarried, uneducated mother, she chose the right and the good at the cost of her comfort and convenience. She didn’t try to hide her mistakes, but let the world see, and know, and judge her, because she knew that the life of her baby was worth more than the pain of their judgments.
If we are truly pro-life, we will stand with my cousin and other women like her, without judging her for her mistakes, or shaming her for her “foolish, unplanned pregnancy”, or whispering behind her back about the stupidity and lack of character in these poor women who conceive children out of wedlock. Instead, we will congratulate her for the miracle of new life growing within her womb. We will praise her for the moral fiber and courage it took to choose life for that tiny and vulnerable baby over whom she held complete power and face the judgment of both the moralists and the materialists. And we will offer her whatever help she needs to continue to build a beautiful and blessed life for her baby and her family, for as long as she needs it.