The pregnancy was the result of one passionate indiscretion, not a covert lifestyle the two had adopted. Nevertheless, two educational careers had been suddenly jeopardized, and unanticipated consequences had instantly begun to unfold.
The parents were crushed by the news, but wise in their responses. There was no talk of spiriting the daughter out of town to have the baby in anonymity, no toying with the thought of an abortion nor the counseling of an adoption. They judged that the relationship of the two young people had the marks of real love on it and was a good match. For these reasons, everyone — parents and the couple — agreed to a private home wedding.
The news spread quickly to the youth group of the church and they were filled with empathy. They immediately began to talk among themselves about giving the whole of their church youth fund, a significant amount, to the couple. Their group impulse solidified quickly.
Upon learning of this, I spoke to the group’s leaders saying theirs was not an appropriate response to the crisis. At first my opinion was seen by the teens as cold and lacking in compassion.
It was, however, a teaching moment. I explained that conduct that had grievously broken God’s law, had brought grief to parents, and had set a hurtful example to peers should not be rewarded with such open-handed generosity.
It would be more appropriate, I explained, to pool their own personal resources and give an appropriate wedding gift such as they might give to any other couple from their youth group who were getting married. Emotions subsided and my suggestion seemed to take.
That was many years ago. Things settled quite quickly because in that social context there at least were traces of what might be called moral norms to work from in making moral decisions. Today a Christian community might find even within itself a confusion of opinions regarding what is right and what is wrong in dealing with such moral breaches.
The couple themselves responded to their new situation courageously and with purpose and went on to raise a family and live exemplary Christian lives. And the church community, compassionate in its general responses, settled quickly. It was a testimonial to redemption.
The shift across intervening generations makes clear that moral clarity has become blurred even in the minds of some Christians. Pray for moral clarity in the church around the world. Pray for it in the pulpits of the land, in every Sunday School class, in Christian grade schools, in Christian colleges everywhere. Pray especially that in Christian families reliable consciences will be formed in the crucible of family living and at family altars everywhere.
In a world filled with moral ambiguities and confusions, do you believe moral integrity is worth fighting for in family circles, within the church, and in society at large? It’s a hard but worthy question.