I'm pregnant. Should I marry the unbelieving father?

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I'm pregnant. Should I marry the unbelieving father?

Jan 20, 2005 |J. Budziszewski
Question

In your column "I got my girlfriend pregnant. What now?" you advise the guy to marry the girl, even though she isn't a Christian, because it is his duty to protect the life he created and the mother.

So my question becomes: Does the same hold true for a Christian girl and a non-Christian guy?

I've just found out that I'm pregnant. I've been dating the man for over a year. I realize my sins — dating a nonbeliever, sex outside marriage — and I've repented before God. I want to make things right, but I don't know how.

We're both 23, we have fairly decent jobs, we're covered by insurance, we're healthy, and we don't have any addictions. There isn't any physical reason not to keep this baby and make a family. My concerns are over the fact he isn't a Christian. I know God does not want us to be unequally yoked, yet it seems to me that we're already yoked through the new life. My boyfriend loves me and wants to marry me and have a family. He doesn't want to give the baby up for adoption, but he'll support me in that if it's what I really want. Neither of us believe in abortion.

I too want to solidify this family we have started, but I'm confused about whether it's the right thing to do. I love him and I want this baby too, but I'm afraid to want it and afraid to be happy. I feel like I'm rejoicing in my sin.

I've started looking for a crisis pregnancy center for help, but I would greatly appreciate your advice. If you know of books that would help me know how to tell my parents, I would be grateful for that too.

Answer

I can set your mind at ease about one thing. It's not wrong to rejoice about your baby — in fact, as your heart knows already, it's very right. A child's new life is a gift of God no matter how the child was conceived, and to rejoice in the baby is not to rejoice in the sin.

I'm so glad that you realize that abortion is not an option. I'm also glad that you're going to visit a crisis pregnancy center — that's one of the best things you can do. You can find one in your area by dialing the toll-free number for CareNet, 1- 800-395-HELP. Your counselor will help you make the decision that is best for your baby. One of the things the counselor may discuss with you is the option of letting the child be adopted by a Christian husband and wife who are already prepared to be parents. Do keep your mind open about adoption; that may be part of the meaning of caring for this gift. Real love makes sacrifices, and what is best for the child is not always the same as what makes us feel best.

Yes, I did advise the young man in "I got my girlfriend pregnant. What now?" to marry her, but no, your decision is not the same. Here's why. The young man's duty was to protect his girlfriend and the baby she was carrying. For that reason, if she would accept him, then in my view it would not be right for him to run away from the responsibilities of being a husband and father. But your duty is not to protect your boyfriend; yours is to protect your baby, and yourself as the baby's mother. Therefore, you certainly have the option not to marry the young man if he would not be a good husband and father, and you should consider this carefully. I'm not suggesting trying to raise the baby by yourself; a child needs a Mom and a Dad. If your boyfriend would not be a suitable husband and father, that would be a strong reason to place the baby for adoption.

Here are some questions that you ought to consider about your boyfriend: Would he be faithful to you? Would he do whatever was necessary to be a good and responsible husband? Would he do whatever was necessary to be a good and responsible father? Would he be marrying you only because he felt "trapped," so that he might want "out" later on? Considering that he is a non-believer, does he understand and agree that marriage is for life and that divorce is not a solution? Again, considering that he is not a believer, does he agree that the child will be raised according to the Christian faith, and can he be trusted to keep such a promise? For example, will he attend church with you and the child every week, even though he does not believe in church? Will he go to the Sunday School's annual Christmas Pageant to see the child wear a sheep costume and say "baa-a-a" to the baby Jesus, even though he does not believe in Jesus? I'm sure you catch my drift.

You also need to ask some searching questions about yourself. Marriage is for life. Can you accept this young man as he is right now until you are parted by death? Many young women think "he's not what a father and husband should be, but he'll change." You can't count on him changing; you have to make your decision on the basis of how he is now. If he doesn't change, will you be able not to resent him for being what he is?

I'm glad you realize that you must tell your parents. Don't put that off a day longer. You don't have to read books on the subject; that would merely be procrastinating. No technical or specialized knowledge is necessary. You speak the same language they do. Just tell them.

My suggestion would be first to break the news to them yourself, without your boyfriend present; then to have a second meeting with them, at which your boyfriend is present too. This will give them time to calm down. After all, you're dropping a bombshell in their lap, so you can't blame them if there is an explosion! Remember that in the shock of the blast, they may say or suggest things they don't really mean. Be patient, ask for their counsel and support and apologize for letting them down by getting involved with sexual sin. During the second meeting, your boyfriend should behave with the same maturity, and he should apologize to them for sleeping with their daughter.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't put off telling your parents, you shouldn't put off visiting a crisis pregnancy center, you should keep an open mind about adoption — and you should resolve to follow Christ faithfully from now on. If you rely on Him, His grace will be sufficient for you — it will even be sufficient to help you to do the right thing for your baby. This may be the first step toward becoming the person whom you want to be but haven't been. I'll pray for you.

Grace and peace,
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS

Copyright 2005 J. Budziszewski. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

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