Illegitimate births are not a new problem, even in Christian circles. What is new is the size of the problem today. Approximately 300,000 children are born out of wedlock each year. In addition, many brides are pregnant at the time of marriage.

Without doubt the breakdown of family life, the tendency of some parents to push their children into adulthood at too early an age, and the so-called generation gap are part of the problem. Among other factors are the turn away from objective standards of morality, theories of progressive education that glorify self-expression, an undue emphasis on permissiveness with children, Freudian psychology, and the emphasis on sex in our culture, particularly in the fields of art, entertainment, and advertising.

No minister can assume that his congregation will be exempt from the problem. Sooner or later every pastor will be confronted by situations involving sex outside marriage, either by members of his church or by people in the community to which the church is called to witness. Most often those who come for help do so because the girl is pregnant. Sometimes they or their families will frankly admit the problem. Often, however, they will not mention it and will only ask for a hurried marriage. What should the pastor do?

Whether the couple confess their problem or try to hide it with a request for a quick marriage, the pastor must avoid moralizing or being judgmental. They have come to him for help, and he, in the name of Christ, has an opportunity to minister. Remembering the way Jesus dealt with adulterers and harlots, he must accept them no matter how much he may be repulsed by their sin. He must remember that though Jesus never minced words about the sins of the flesh, he was far more ...

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