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Teen Pregnancy
Photo: Norman Pogson
Some friends and I once talked about high teen pregnancy rates. They were concerned about it. I pointed out that teen pregnancy rates in the United States are lower today than they were in the nineteenth century.

“That’s different,” they said, “People got married younger back then.”

It is different—yet it is not. People did marry at a younger age. They then began having children shortly after marriage. Having children were a major reason to get married. We cannot return to that era.

Being married, and becoming a parent implies that someone is ready to assume adult responsibilities. That includes earning enough money to maintain a household and raise the kids unaided. In nineteenth century America teens could do that. Today, teens cannot.

The desires that drove teens to start families back then are present today. It is how God made us. God also fenced sex within marriage. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,” states Paul in Ephesians 5:31.

The difference between today and the past is not that we marry later. While nineteenth century Americans and biblical-era peoples married in their teens, in other times people married much later in life. In sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe, getting married in your early thirties—for men and women—was common. It took that long to save up enough to support yourself and a family. (This was one reason many wanted to come to America.)

Today we have divorced childbearing from marriage. Bearing children out of wedlock is no longer considered either remarkable or shameful. Popular media celebrates single motherhood. Our schools facilitate teen pregnancy offering free on-site day care. Unwed pregnancy is just a lifestyle choice. Is it surprising when teenage girls act upon the signals given to them?


A few good solutions can be applied. The best one is to set the example you want your child to lead. Keeping your own marriage covenant faithfully within a loving relationship is a powerful example. Unfortunately, most teen girls who become unwed mothers come from broken homes and blended families.Spending time with your teenage daughter and becoming involved in her life is another good way to keep her from becoming an unwed mother. Unfortunately most teens become parents when their own parents lack the time or inclination to do this.

When these do not apply, what solution is left? Give an at-risk girl a path to adulthood that requires avoiding pregnancy. Show her an achievable future for her to buy into. Make her believe that avoiding pregnancy as a teen is her path to independence.

God’s commandments exist for a reason. A major reason is that obeying them—including restricting sex and childbearing within marriage—is that it makes life easier for those who obey them.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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