Heavens, no! There’s no law that says pregnancy should be followed by marriage, unless, of course, the two of you are very much in love. And if you were planning to get married someday anyway, then that question is a non-issue.
Back in the good old days, a lady who suddenly got pregnant outside of marriage was looked upon with shame. In drastic cases, her parents would either whisk her off to an abortion clinic or force her boyfriend to marry her. These days, much has changed. Getting pregnant outside marriage is merely viewed as an act of negligence or carelessness, and it really shouldn’t be the end of the world, not for the couple, and certainly not for the dotting parents.
We’re not saying, however, that it’s perfectly alright to get pregnant before marriage. Our honest take on the matter is to avoid getting pregnant in the first place if you’re not married. Even if you were planning to get married one day, who’s to say that the unplanned birth of a child will not stress the relationship and marriage?
Pregnancy Outside Marriage – The Religious Angle
Christians are told repeatedly that the Bible is full of references about sexual sin. Sex before marriage goes against the teachings of God and that it is immoral. We’ve all heard the teaching that says our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, so having sex before marriage means you’re straying away from God’s fellowship.
While the Bible says that sex outside marriage is prohibited, nowhere does it say that the man and woman must marry. Getting married just because of a pregnancy will not right the wrong. By getting married, you would be committing a second folly. A pregnancy lasts nine months but marital conflict can last much longer than that. If there is no commitment on either party, then marriage after a pregnancy is strongly discouraged.
Dawson McAllister gives Christian counseling about sex, marriage and relationships. She says that over 1 million teenagers will become pregnant this year – that translates to 3,000 pregnancies per day. Of that number, she says that almost 50% of teenaged girls will end their pregnancies through abortion.
The first thing that McAllister tells pregnant teens is that suicide or abortion is never an option. Killing an unborn child is an intensely emotional issue that will erode your sense of self – the lifetime guilt can be overwhelming. If you’re too young to support your own child and you have emotional problems of your own and the father is also unable to support the child, the best option is to give the baby to a Christian family who would be willing to adopt your child. That way, you’ll have peace of mind that your child will be properly cared for.
Pregnancy Outside Marriage – The Psychological Issue
There’s a whole baggage of emotions that comes with the knowledge that you’re pregnant and not married. It will help if you did not look back and ask how it happened and put the blame on either your partner or yourself. Let’s face the music now: you’re pregnant and you’re not married. There’s work for you to do:
As we said earlier if the two of you are in love and were planning a wedding one day, then do go ahead with that wedding and support and love the child. That’s the best gift you could give to another human being. A pre-mature marriage carries risks, even if the love between two people is strong. So prepare yourself mentally for the detours ahead; keep communication lines open and honest with your spouse.
Here’s the thorniest thorn: you’re pregnant, you don’t love each other, and you’re both financially unstable. Where do you go from here?
As McAllister says, don’t even think of committing suicide or having an abortion. It isn’t the end of the world, and the child deserves to live;
- Inform your parents and family. They’ll either support you or throw you out of the house. If they support you, accept it with grace and begin to make arrangements for you and your child. If they throw you out and refuse to help you, visit your nearest social services center. If they can’t help you, they’ll definitely refer you to an organization that will be happy to offer advice. Speak to your pastor, your school counselor – anyone who will emotionally guide you through the rough road. If you’re feeling broken inside, this isn’t good for your mental health, nor is it good for the child. Get psychological counseling. Enlist your best friend’s support. You’ll need a support network from hereon. Being pregnant and not married is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Stop thinking “social stigma”; instead focus on your future and your baby’s.
- Educate yourself on family law. Tackle questions such as “should I put the name of the father on the birth certificate?”; “would government assistance be a wise decision; if so, where can I get financial help”?
- Think long and hard about adoption. If you’re financially incapable and can’t get a job while pregnant, would your baby be better off with a family that will be able to give your baby what he or she deserves? Talk to adoption agencies, even if you haven’t made up your mind. You’ll want as much information should you come to a final decision.
- Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. Note that we said it twice. We’ll say it again and again if we have to. You’ve made a mistake. Don’t dwell on it, nor should you waste your mental energies thinking about how you believed the love was there but wasn’t after you got pregnant.
- If you were employed when you got pregnant, bear in mind that your employer has to treat you the same way as before. It is considered unlawful and illegal for a company to lay off an employee because she is pregnant. Write to the Equal Employment Opportunity office and file a complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against. For as long as you perform your duties satisfactorily, you cannot be fired or laid off on the basis of your pregnancy.
Pregnant but not Married – Not Just Teens Anymore
It used to be that the words “pregnant and unmarried” were synonymous with teens – the 15 to 19 age group. An MSN report by Associated Press (November 21, 2006) said that although four out of ten babies are born in the US without benefit of marriage every year, the birth rate among teenagers has significantly dropped, with out-of-wedlock births reportedly higher among women in their 20s. This can be partly explained by the fact that more and more people are living together and putting off pregnancy until later in their 30’s. It is also explained by the fact that people have learned to accept out-of-wedlock pregnancies as a natural occurrence and that it can happen to the best of us.
Women in their 30s and 40s also realize that they may want a child without necessarily getting married – this is another factor that contributes to the idea that having a child out of marriage is no longer taboo.