Sunday, February 28, 2010

Christians and teen pregnancy

Last week I received a lousy review for my latest release, Out with the In Crowd. It's an unfortunate part of the business, and while you brace yourself for it, it's always a bit crushing when it happens.

Except for this time.

Out with the In Crowd is book two in The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. In the first book, Me, Just Different, we learned that Skylar's 15-year-old sister is pregnant. One of the story lines in Out with the In Crowd is about Abbie wrestling with what to do after the baby's born. Yet the entire story is told from Skylar's perspective, so we also see a lot of what the pregnancy does to the rest of the family. Particularly because Abbie is in a bit of denial and a lot of the baby prep (diapers, picking out a crib, etc.) somehow falls on Skylar's shoulders.

I never set out to make a statement about teen pregnancy. It's just the direction the story went, and in writing Out with the In Crowd, I portrayed how Skylar, who's recently become a Christian, deals with her sister's mistake.

Apparently, whether I meant to or not, I made a statement. And one particular reviewer wasn't a fan of it. What troubled me most about her review was this statement: “Years ago it would be incredibly shameful to show your face in public with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy; today it is the norm. But I question that it should be for Christians. I don’t think it should be, regardless of what the world around us is doing.”

At first this made me laugh out loud. I just sat there and reread it over and over, shocked. I mean, seriously? SERIOUSLY??? We're not talking about a couple of acquaintances. We're talking about a big sister taking care of her little sister the best way she knows how.

And then as the comment sunk it, it occurred to me how incredibly sad this viewpoint is. How can you read the gospels and believe this? After learning how Jesus chose Matthew, a tax collector, to be a disciple. How He dined with Zacchaeus. How He stood at the well with the Samaritan woman who’d had five husbands and now lived with another man, yet made her feel accepted and loved. How He allowed a woman who the Bible simply says had lived a “sinful life” to wash and perfume his feet.

A book of mine is never, ever going to make this reviewer happy. Abbie is my second favorite part of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. (My first favorite is Skylar’s reinvention, as you might assume.) What I love about Abbie’s story is that she shows how sinful decisions carry consequences, like having a baby at 15, but God’s grace is bigger. He loves me—a girl who waited until she was married to have sex—as much as he loves the Abbies of the world. He loves McKenna and the little boy I’m carrying right now—conceived in holy wedlock—as much as he loves the children of girls like Abbie.

And I’m grateful for this. Because while sex before marriage hasn’t been an area in my life where I’ve struggled, I’ve still used an abundance of God’s grace. We all have. And I have every intention of continuing to write stories that explore that.

Stephanie Morrill


Erin said...

We are so quick to judge, so slow to extend mercy. Yet I find nowhere in Scripture where we are called to condemn others. Rebuke in love? Yes. Use discernment? Of course. But God is the judge. He asks us to be His hands and feet-- the same hands and feet that were pierced through with the nails of sin and mercy.

Susan Hollaway said...

Good for you, Stephanie! You go, girl! I'm proud of you.

Tammy Doherty said...

Stephanie, I like what you say about God loving everyone. And I think as Christians we should show that love and be supportive, especially when it's a big sister kind of thing.

I do, however, disagree with recent trends, at least in my church, to throw baby showers for pregnant teens. It's not that they don't deserve our love, etc. I just think teenage girls focus on the "fun" of a baby shower and fail to see the rest of the picture. So Susie Teen gets pregnant and her church gives her a baby shower. Now her friends say, "Wow, look at all the cool stuff Susie got. And all the attention she's getting." Naturally, the next thought is, "I want that, too."

I haven't read your books but it sounds to me like you are showing the REAL consequences to everyone. That is how a Christian book should handle something like this. And how our church should, too. We should offer motherhood classes, to teach diapering, feeding, burping, and dealing with the crying baby. Not throw parties to make it seem all fun and games.

Michelle Gregory said...

your response to the bad press was precious. thanks for having the courage to write Christian fiction that's real.

Julie Garmon said...

Loved your comments here, Stephanie. Rooting for you.

Stephanie Morrill said...

Thank you, Julie!

AbinotAbby said...

Wow, I love this post, Thanks!

Stephanie Morrill said...

Okay, everyone probably thinks I was ignoring them! I don't know what the deal is, but until today (April 1st), the only comment showing up on the site was Julie's. Which seemed weird to me because I thought it was a semi-controversial post, but...

Tammy, I see your point about the baby showers. It's definitely a tough balance, to be supportive without making it acceptable.

Yet babies require SO much stuff, and cost SO much money, that I think the gesture of helping a pregnant teenager is a nice one. I view it as a way to be the "hands and feet" like Erin talked about. Their babies need diapers and clothes same as mine.

I hope the teen's friends would be smart enough to see how difficult the situation is, and wouldn't get caught up in the excitement of new, cute baby stuff. I know there are stories of teenage girls making pregnancy pacts and stuff like that, but they're definitely not the normal teenagers. Most seem to realize that pregnancy is serious and life altering.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone, Can someone help me with this question?

What is the Biblical perspective of teenage pregnancy?