I have been awestruck by the recent account in the news of 18 Gloucester High School girls (mostly sophomores) getting pregnant, apparently excited at the prospect of having a baby on their own.
My heart aches for these unborn babies and for the mothers who know so little about what is to come. They offer their babies a life of insecurity and poverty; with an uneducated mother and no father. It is undeniable that these babies deserve more than these children can offer.
It is the world’s current state of morality that prompted the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (known as the Mormons) in 1995 to write “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
In this sacred document, it states:
“God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife…The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
In an age where adults focus on their own rights and needs, true entitlement belongs to the children, who need both a mother and father to give them security, love, and parents who can both support the family economically and be there to tend to the child’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
The high school provided in-school day care for girls who already had babies. Pathways for Children CEO Sue Todd noted “that some of the girls involved had been identified as being at risk of becoming teen mothers as early as sixth grade, when they began to request pregnancy tests in middle school. ‘What we’ve seen is the girls fit a certain profile,’ Todd said. ‘They’re socially isolated, and they don’t have the support of their families.’” (Glouster Pregnancy Plot Thickens, Time (online), Kathleen Kingsbury, June 23, 2008)
I heard commentators who were shocked by the situation. But I think we cannot be surprised at children making such decisions when they lack family support, love, instruction, attention and are under bombardment by television, movies, and books with constant messages: Intimacy outside the bonds of marriage is normal, single parenting is a personal choice to be applauded and fathers are optional.
The solution offered by many commenting is to provide birth control to these children. But the expectation is far too low. God the Father expects more. As Paul teaches the Corinthians:
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Mormon apostle, Elder Jeffrey Holland, explains why sexual sin is so devastating:
“The body is an essential part of the soul. This distinctive and very important Latter-day Saint doctrine underscores why sexual sin is so serious. We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life, “the very key” to life, as President Boyd K. Packer once called it (“Why Stay Morally Clean,” Ensign, July 1972, 113). In exploiting the body of another—which means exploiting his or her soul—one desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life. And when one mocks the Son of Righteousness, one steps into a realm of heat hotter and holier than the noonday sun. You cannot do so and not be burned.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Oct 1998 Conference)
He goes on to describe the symbol of marriage:
“…human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. From the Garden of Eden onward, marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything….Can you see the moral schizophrenia that comes from pretending you are one, pretending you have made solemn promises before God, sharing the physical symbols and the physical intimacy of your counterfeit union but then fleeing all other aspects of what was meant to be a total obligation?”
How rare and how magnificent is this message.
I want to put my arms around those girls, not much older than my own daughter. I want to tell them how much they are loved by their Father in Heaven. I want to tell them they are daughters of God and can become more than they can now imagine. They do not have to expect a lower standard for themselves and for their children. They deserve a loving spouse. Their children deserve a loving father. They can have an eternal marriage. It is worth the sacrifice and the wait. The commandments are here for our happiness and eternal joy.
I cry for these children and for their their future children. They both can have so much more.