I don’t usually get involved in news articles gone viral or comment on newspapers that are more than happy to run an article that brings to light the fault of Christians while shutting their eyes to a multitude of sins of those who claim to be any other faith, or even of no faith at all.
Yet, this time, I can’t let this one pass without offering my opinion.
I’m sure many of you have seen the article in The New York Times, Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.
I lead an orphan ministry with my friend.
We choose to love the children who are alone in the world. We save our money so we can help them come home to families. We have yard sales and tee shirt sales and we pray for the children, born and unborn. We adopt the children who are waiting for families.
And we pray for their mothers.
We pray for the young women who are so alone that they see no way to bear the child they’ve conceived.
We pray that they would come to us with their fears and questions, in all of their aloneness, that they would not find judgment or shame, but rather love and support for the very hard and scary place they’ve found themselves in. We pray that they would not feel shame in bearing the baby God has chosen to bless them with in the midst of their humanity and weakness. We pray for the chance to love them, to share Christ with them.
Of course I believe in abstinence before marriage. Of course I teach my children all the reasons why saving sex for marriage is God’s best for our lives. Of course I spend time in long converstations with my kids in hopes of helping them to understand that when we step out of God’s perfect plan for us, there are natural consequences that affect our lives often for the rest of our time on earth. Of course I share with them that God’s guidelines for our lives are there to protect us from unnecessary pain. Of course I remind them that God’s rules are because He loves us so very much, not because He wants to keep us from enjoying life, but because He wants to give us life more abundant and free.
But when that child walks a different path than I would hope for them, I pray that they will know that they can come boldly to me, their mother, to their church or school, and find grace and love and support, just as all of us are invited to come boldly to Jesus, just as we are.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
I can’t help but feel that the body of Christ has forgotten to love.
Have we so quickly forgotten how Jesus treated the woman accused of adultery?
He knelt down on the ground in the midst of those who would accuse her and wrote in the sand. He spoke to the self righteous group of people about to stone the woman with gentle words.
“He that is without sin among you, throw the first stone.”
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” ~Jesus, John 8:9-11
The treatment of Maddi Runkles by Dave Hobbs wreaks of the purtitanistic legalism that Hester Prynne endured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Have we learned no more about love all these years later? This is the type of behavior that gives Jesus and those who follow Him a bad name. Nothing about this is like Jesus. Of course the world believes we are hypocrites when decisions like this are made.
Maddi Runkles must be hidden away in her home on home instruction and can’t walk across the graduation platform because she chose to keep her baby?
I can’t help but wonder what we’re really punishing when we choose such harsh and barbaric treatment of a Christian young lady who got pregnant and chose to give life to her baby. Maddi Runkles is long past the confession stage. What do we hope to accomplish by such harsh punishment and shaming? Do we really think the next young lady who gets pregnant will feel safe to come forth after she’s seen how Maddi’s been treated?
Are we more concerned with making a spectacle of someone else’s mistake than we are about the unborn babies within?
How can we, as Christians, hope to save the lives of the unborn when we treat our own dear daughters who choose to have their babies with punishment because they chose life?
And of course it’s her choice to have the baby that’s being punished. She could have had an abortion and walked across that platform.
Maddi Runkles made the right choice, and that’s the choice that should have been celebrated and focused on, not the one she’s already confessed.
The church isn’t condoning sex before marriage when they choose to love unwed mothers anymore than I am condoning lying when I choose to celebrate the fact that my children have chosen to come to me and expose their dishonesty instead of focusing on the sin. Do you think for a moment that I punish them when they tell me of their failures?
Of course I don’t.
I celebrate their choice to be honest and to confess their sins.
I envelope them in my arms and praise them for their choice to come forth and tell the truth.
This isn’t about forcing Maddi to take responsibility for the choice she made. She’s totally taken responsibility for the choice she made. She carries it every day. She wears it like a scarlet letter in front of legalists who choose to accuse her. She’ll live with the decision she made for the rest of her life. I wonder if people like Dave Hobbs really know the bravery and level of responsibility it takes for a young lady to make the choice Maddi has made. She should be supported and loved by Christians for her choice, and the new life within her should be celebrated. In God’s perfect love and grace, He chose to bless this young lady with a baby. The church needs to see it as such and celebrate this child’s life.
Mr. Hobbs is quoted as commenting in reference to his harsh consequences, “This is for Maddi.”
Can he be serious?
In response to this one, I’m compelled to say, “Come on Dave. For the sake of the unwed mothers and the unborn babies, it’s time to choose love and grace.”