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Pro-Love: Save the Teens

Forty two years ago, a scared 16-year-old girl was 4 months pregnant. She was a sophomore in high school and undoubtedly abjectly humiliated. Just imagine the shame she must have felt walking down those high school hallways every day—sitting in the classrooms. The taunts, the whispers, the rejection, the name-calling. Six years earlier, Roe v. Wade had given her a legal way to end her pregnancy—to end her shame. Not only was she pregnant at 16, she was also high-risk. She had gestational diabetes, which can threaten the life and health of the mother carrying the child. How easy it would have been to walk in to a clinic. Namelessly be shuffled to a stark white room, laid on a table. One small procedure to end her humiliation—to end the threat to her own life.

Despite all of this, she chose life. She chose adoption. It no doubt was the most difficult decision of her young life. Perhaps she's never had to make that difficult of a decision since. But she knew what all of us know deep down—that an unborn child is life. A heartbeat is formed at 3-4 weeks gestation, which is before most women even know they are pregnant. The central nervous system is formed between 3-6 weeks. Little ears, eyes and limbs are formed around 4 weeks.

Any woman who has felt her child move and kick and grow inside of her *knows* that child is alive. Even before modern science, the Psalmist knew the truth of this. Psalm 139:13-14, David cries out to God, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This scared 16-year-old knew that her body was no longer her own, as I was alive and living inside of her. You can twist the logic; you can claim that a woman should "have a right to choose." You can attempt to justify abortion any way you wish, but ultimately, abortion is to end a life.

Science says that bacteria are alive, but some people refuse to say that a fetus is alive. It is true that a fetus cannot survive outside a mother's womb, so that leads to the "viability argument." The viability argument says that an abortion is OK as long as the fetus is not viable outside the mother's womb. But when does that occur? That's an argument with no answer, because there have been babies who lived when born at just 21 weeks old and survived. The main issue with this argument, however, is that even a baby outside the womb can't survive on its own—it is reliant on someone to meet its basic needs. That then begs the question of potential life and the sanctity thereof.

I am so thankful that scared 16-year-old girl chose life. She answered my parents' prayers the day she signed the papers giving me to them. It is a bittersweet reminder that sometimes, our darkest hour can be the answer to someone else's prayer. But all too often, young girls and women choose a different route.

For the past few years, abortion has been on America's main stage. States recently passed laws that allow abortion up to birth, while other, more conservative states are trying to pass laws making abortion more restrictive. Pro-life people are abhorred with some of the laws that have been passed, but we need to do more than just say we are pro-life. We need to actually do something to show how much we value life. And that begins way before conception. It begins with how we as a society—specifically a Christian society—view pregnancy and sex outside of marriage.

If you were raised in a Christian home, then you know that premarital sex is a sin. It was most likely drilled into your head at youth group that abstinence was the only way to go. You may have received a purity ring from your parents or boyfriend. You may have signed a pledge that you would remain a virgin until marriage. You even got a wallet-sized card with that one—you could carry it with you everywhere you went. You were a card-carrying virgin until marriage. Forget the thousands of kids hearing these messages who were no longer virgins—many of whom had their virginity stolen from them as young children in dark recesses, hidden from truth and light. When we teach that abstinence is the only way to go, many teens hear the message of shame when it comes to sex.

The intention of teaching abstinence is to prevent disease and pregnancy. It's meant to teach students to value themselves more than sex. Many times, this teaches kids that sex is scary, that there are huge consequences and that you'll be a sinner if you give in to your natural desires. Teaching teens to avoid sex at all costs comes with a heavy price tag. When teens fail in this edict of virginity, they keep it to themselves. They hide. Just as Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned, teens will hide their sexual sins. Until they can't. Premartial sex, if it leads to pregnancy, is a sin where that teen girl literally have to carry her sin around with her for nine months. You want to avoid the shame? Easy. Abort the shame.

Before you decide to lynch me for saying abstinence only doesn't work, I want to be clear that I am not advocating just giving teens free reign to have sex. I'm also not advocating handing out condoms in gym class. What I'm saying is that the messages the church sends to kids about sex are flawed. The messages sent and the messages received are not the same messages. We have to change the messages we are sending to teens. God never designed sex to be shameful. He designed it for a husband and wife to delight themselves in each other. He designed it for the ultimate expression of love. Read Song of Solomon and see what I mean. God also designed sex to procreate and continue our lineage. God tells Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" in Genesis. Instead of shame, He meant for sex to be a wonderful expression of a man and a woman truly becoming one flesh--literally.

This is the message teens need to receive—that sex is wonderful and beautiful. But that it's meant for later in their lives, not now. They need to know God's plan not only for sex but for their lives. Plans to prosper them and give them hope and a future. For the sake of their hearts, their emotions, their very soul, we have to teach them to protect their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That's why we wait for sex until marriage. Because God loves us. He loves us enough to give us sex, and He loves us enough to give us a plan for it so we won't get hurt. We don't avoid sex because we want to just avoid disease. We don't avoid sex because we want to just avoid pregnancy. And it's not because every Christian just wants to be a wet blanket.

Just as with every single thing on our planet, God had a design for us, but in our sin and fallenness, His ultimate perfect plan was thwarted. This includes His plan for sex. We will fall; we will fail. So the question then becomes: "How are we going to respond to those who fail?" So far, our response as Christians has been pretty pitiful. When people fall into sexual sin, traditionally, Christians do not view sexual sin the same as other sins like stealing or lying, drinking or coveting. And that has to change. There has to be redemption for all sin—not just the non-embarrassing ones. There has to be a path back to God. There has to be less judgement and shame. We—the church—are the ones who have to make sure that the ones who sin know that they are still loved and worthy of the Lord's favor and blessing. We have to make sure that the little girls who get pregnant (or who have had sex already) will be loved and don't have to wear a scarlet letter on their belly.

If we are truly going to be pro-life, we have to change our stance from "save the babies" to "save the teens." When teenagers can understand God's plan for sex, they will start to see sex differently. When they stop looking for love from a boyfriend and look for it in God, then they will naturally abstain. And secondly—and probably more importantly—we have to stop judging those who sin. We have to bring them in, make them feel loved and help them strip away their shame. When the shame is gone, teens will be able to make a courageous decision—to either keep the baby or give it up for adoption. The only reason a girl would choose abortion over adoption is because she doesn't want to have to be pregnant. She doesn't want to carry her shame. They don't want to have to deal with the consequences of sex. If we take away the shame of pregnancy, then adoption is a much more viable option to answer the other reasons why a teen would choose abortion. Adoption gives life, and it can give the teen her life back, too. That teen mom can still go to college; she can still pursue her dreams. She can give the child a life he or she deserves. Strip away the shame, and you strip away any reason to get an abortion. Take away the shame of pregnancy, and there won't be a necessity or reason for her to walk in to that stark white room and be laid on a table in order to end her shame.

Obviously this is just one side of a multi-faceted issue. However, if we can save the teens and love them through their shame and pregnancy, then that can be a positive step toward ending abortion. If you are pro-life, then you have to be pro-pregnant teen, too.

This is one of the reasons I love groups like Embrace Grace. Embrace Grace is a Christian, non profit organization that helps women and teens with unplanned pregnancies find a place to belong and feel loved through their pregnancy and early motherhood. Instead of being merely Pro-Life, they are Pro-Love.

Sources: Mayo Clinic,


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