I’ve been hearing a lot this week about the teen girl, whose school did not allow her to participate in graduation exercises due to her pregnancy. And I just have to say something, from the perspective of the most fundamental Christian I know…. Me.
Christians, we are better than this.
Heritage Academy, what do you think you have accomplished by shunning this girl? Do you suspect all teens will learn from her mistake, now, and stop having sex? Do you think she will feel appropriately punished for her sin? Or were you just hoping to avoid your own shame of seeing a pregnant girl of your own holy institution walk your stage and receive that blessed piece of paper?
Teen Vogue reports that she is being punished for breaking the rule of “becoming pregnant” alongside their advertisements for Planned Parenthood. I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Now, as a believer, I know that becoming pregnant is not a sin, and I actually do not think this is likely in the school’s conduct code either. Rather, more likely, the offense was sex outside the parameters of marriage.
Certainly, I understand this being an offense with due consequences. Students who are caught breaking any school conduct rules are certainly justifiably punished. My understanding is that she was promptly suspended for two days for breaking this rule, and that she was removed as president of the student council. Those are effective consequences. However, what you have attempted in response to your broken rule, was to break the girl. May God have mercy on you.
Teen pregnancy, on the other hand, comes with a different set of natural consequences that no school needs to manufacture.
- Consequences like going to your parents with the news of being pregnant.
- Consequences like telling your Christian school headmaster that you’re pregnant.
- Consequences like your clothes no longer fitting right.
- Consequences like missing out on your freshmen year of college.
Her Alternatives to Pregnancy
In the shadow of this story, was a 10-year-old girl in India, who, just last week, aborted her 20-week baby at her mother’s insistence, and after receiving special permission from the court to do so. Her mother had encouraged her abortion because of the shame on the family, particularly her husband who sat in jail for child rape. Immediately after this abortion, the mother sought to have her husband released from jail. Baby gone, problem gone! Right?
Christians everywhere decried this decision. And certainly, anytime a child’s life is taken it is tragic. I think it is easy to see that the baby was not the real problem in the case of the 10-year old Indian girl.
So, now, back to Maryland, where 18-year-old Maddi was preparing to graduate high school. She may have made some poor choices. Her growing belly might have outed her. But her baby was not the problem and should not be grounds for any punishment by the school.
Now, I don’t condone premarital sex, and I certainly pray my own girls wait for their wedding night, but let’s all be real here. This was almost certainly not the only high school senior at Heritage Academy who was having pre-marital sex. Certainly, there was a boy involved as well.
Now I suppose it is possible that a thorough investigation was performed to determine the names and sexual activity level of all of Maddi’s classmates, but probably not. Maddi was punished because she carries a life within her, evidence of her crime. I hope no one beyond the school board members look at this baby as evidence.
Maddi, if you’re out there reading all these things about you, I hope you have found a supportive community of people who love you and this baby! I hope you do not let the shame you’ve felt from your own heart and from the ignorance of others prevent you from growing from this challenge. I hope you are able to find joy in this little one. Your dreams may have just changed, or you may have to just delay them a little bit, but God is not done with you yet. He has an amazing plan for you and a plan for this baby.
Graduation is also called Commencement. Commencement is about beginning something new. A new life, a new adventure… Happy Commencement, Maddi! Congratulations! Our prayers and well wishes are with you.