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But for the Grace of God: Addressing Increasing Teen Pregnancy Rates

April 2009
By: Sydna Massé
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.
And the favor of God was upon him (Luke 2:40 ).

While preparing for a missions trip to Turkey, the grace of God suddenly swung into action like a hatchet to draw me to my knees. When I opened my dryer to begin folding the clothes of my middle son, Michael, something in the lint filter caught my attention. I discovered two empty condom wrappers. I showed them to my husband, Tom, and we immediately approached Michael. Showing him my discovery, I quietly asked, "Do you have something to tell us?" Teenage tears accompanied a quiet confession of the obvious truth—he was no longer a virgin. I logically asked the next question, "Is she pregnant?" Michael quietly responded, "We think so." He went on to say, "A doctor told her that her life could be at risk in pregnancy, so we think abortion is the only choice."

You never can prepare for these poignant moments when they blindside your well-made plans for your children's lives. Michael's birth initiated my healing from my own abortion experience 17 years earlier. He was an infant when I began my work in crisis pregnancy ministry, first by managing Focus on the Family's Crisis Pregnancy Ministries (1991-1997) and then by founding Ramah International (1997 to present). At the time of this lint filter discovery, I was completing the revision of my book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. None of this prepared me for my son's conclusion that abortion was the only choice for my first grandchild.

I remorsefully confess that anger was my first reaction as I shouted, "How DARE you say such a thing to ME?" Thankfully Tom assumed control of the conversation until I could regain my composure. I had invested countless hours helping abortion-determined individuals but was helpless to present immediate compassion to my own son. Thankfully the grace of God flowed through my husband's calm voice, making up for my human incapacities.

Tom began equipping Michael with the truth—abortion wasn't an acceptable option. He coached him that "being a man" meant accepting the responsibility for his sexual actions. Michael called his girlfriend, speaking the words that every possibly pregnant woman wants to hear, "I love you and want our baby." The abortion option was discarded immediately. We claimed Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:14, "The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus."

In June 2008, the Centers for Disease Control reported that for the first time since 1991, teen pregnancy birth rates increased.i Media outlets relayed the account of 17 teenage students who had made a "pregnancy pact" in Massachusetts. Under intense media pressure, teenage star, Jamie Lynn Spears, gave birth to her first child. Our nation is now at war to determine the responsibility for this national epidemic. Many are focusing the blame on "abstinence until marriage" programs that entailed the lack of contraception education.

We've missed an important fact here—each teen pregnancy represents a new life that could be aborted. The simple truth that teenagers are choosing to continue their pregnancies is a victory. While few want to encourage teen pregnancy, even pro-abortion forces want to make abortion "rare." In my son's life, abstinence as it related to my personal regret from my abortion was discussed openly along with the need for purity in his relationship with this young girl. In spite of these heartfelt discussions, they chose to be intimate. The result was our own contribution to these national statistics—a handmade-by-Jesus grandchild.

As the "blame battle" wages, many Americans are reminded of their own past pregnancy dilemmas and abortion decisions. Many post-abortive individuals sit in quiet prisons composed of guilt, grief, and pain—fearful of society's judgment and condemnation. At current rates, about one-third of American women will choose abortion.ii Yet the power of regret after an abortion can often mean life for unborn children—even our grandchildren. Obtain a copy of Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion to understand this pain and God's healing process. When discussing abortion or past sexual mistakes, offer the transparent remark that, "But for the Grace of God..." you could have made a similar choice.

We were delighted with the joy of meeting this dear child when she was born. We learned much about the struggle of potential teen fathers. God used her life to help me encourage young callers to speak to their parents about their crisis pregnancies, citing my son's situation as an example. But God also had another plan in store—a release.



Six weeks after we welcomed this little girl into our lives, we discovered through DNA testing that she wasn't our grandchild. Next to the deaths of my parents in the previous ten months, this discovery was probably the most heartbreaking. I searched God for His meaning to this new pain. His voice was simply, "Find the joy." My mind quickly went back to the early days of this child's existence in her mother's womb. Suddenly I realized that had my son not been her "potential" father, this girl could have been aborted. Our "joy" was that she was alive and well. We simply were used by God to ensure her safe arrival. Her life is our joy, and the pain is another thing the Lord will use to advance the power of our testimony.

Remember, God sent His own Son to earth in the form of an unmarried teenage crisis pregnancy. Each life that arrives under this condition is very special and significant. Our job is to be obedient to His call and to love every person He puts in our path, regardless of their choice. God's grace will once again go before us, paving the way with His truth and love.

How you can help reduce teen pregnancy rates

Conduct transparent discussions with your teenagers of how you would react should they encounter a crisis pregnancy possibility. Prayerfully consider sharing the regret you may have at not being a virgin when you married. Never assume that your children won't be vulnerable to an abortion decision. Help them understand that abortion never solves a problem—it only develops new ones.

When you encounter an obviously young pregnant teen, offer her your compassion and congratulate her. Extend the same love to the father of this child. The choice of life should be rewarded and applauded no matter what the circumstances. Understand this couple's trials will clearly offer teenagers an effective picture of the consequences of choosing sex outside of marriage.

Assist your local pregnancy care center with tax-deductible financial, physical, and material support. They offer confidential and complimentary services which include:

Abstinence until marriage education.
Intervention services including pregnancy tests, ultrasound exams, information on the physical, emotion, spiritual, and psychological consequences of abortion, parenting classes, and material support.
Post-abortion recovery classes to help abortion's wounded find God's healing.

Sydna Massé is the president and founder of Ramah International (ramahinternational.org) and author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. Sydna and Tom, along with their three sons, reside in Florida.

i(http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/AdolescentReproHealth/index.htm).

ii Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, July 2008, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington, DC, (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html).

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