by Candy Gibbs
As a pastor, I know that you must feel like you are walking a thin line. I pray for you often because your calling, as I see it, especially in the current state of our society is a difficult one. Presenting the truth in love in an environment that doubts even the existence of truth and cannot separate “love” from “condoning sinful behavior” must be an overwhelming task. How are you to love your congregation at the same time presenting truth in a non-condemning fashion?
Luke 12: 48 describes you perfectly, “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much will be asked.”
The Father has certainly entrusted you with much and to confront the issues our generation faces is requiring much of you as well.
Unplanned pregnancy is an issue facing our churches on a daily basis. Young people finding themselves expecting a baby outside of wedlock and often inside of high school, and now even younger, is commonplace. Also, true that when we mention unplanned pregnancy we think of teens, yet unplanned pregnancies happen to people of all ages and in many different circumstances.
Here is the question from the church that I hear often: how do we encourage and support the mom and the child without seeming to accept or condone the sin?
I understand the reasoning behind that thinking. We have swiftly moved from the days when a girl simply fell off the radar or moved to Aunt Sally’s for several months after finding herself in a “crisis” pregnancy, to a girl experiencing an “unplanned” pregnancy continuing in high school, even opening day cares in local high schools to allow mothers to finish their education. What a difficult and delicate balance it is to love and to stand for truth in a day when all of the lines are blurred and the only color politically acceptable seems to be grey.
As the Executive Director of a pregnancy center for over a decade, this very situation is the center of my world on a daily basis. The insight I would offer to you as a pastor, is that when dealing with unplanned pregnancy we are really dealing with two separate issues; that of loving the mom and baby and helping them to live safe, productive lives and the sinful behavior that orchestrated this situation to begin with. When there is a baby coming and a scared family scrambling to make plans that were not in the plan then as the body of Christ, we must come alongside them in love. Of course, there should be a baby shower. Of course, friends of the soon to be grandparents need to offer prayers and support to their friends. Of course, the young mom to be needs to continue to be loved and accepted by the church and the youth group. Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Bearing with one another in love often happens during a stretch through a desert. Supporting a hurting young mom and her family in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy is showing her the love of Christ.
The second issue precedes the last. Here is where I believe that we as believers have been so afraid of seeming “judgmental” that we have dropped the ball. This generation of young people is being lied about their choices, their morality and it is destroying them.
Our culture speaks these lies to them:
That you should be able to dress, act and speak anyway you choose and no one should be allowed to make a judgment call about your character based on that. In the mind of our culture, Miley Cyrus should be able to come on stage dressed in a nude colored bikini and “twerk” on a married man in front of millions and no one should think that “trashy” or “inappropriate” and as a matter of fact if a young man watching struggled with impure thoughts about her during that performance, well that’s just his problem. He should not allow himself to think those thoughts and he should still hold Miley in high regard.
That “boys will be boys”. Boys simply cannot control themselves. They will be sexually active prior to marriage. Though condoms may not be the best answer, it is about all we have to offer them.
In a perfect world, people wouldn’t co-habitat, but hey, this is 2013. That is the way things are, you live together for a while to find out whether or not you are compatible.
Elementary school children need cell phones, iPads and Facebook pages. It may not be ideal, but what are we going to do? We don’t want our child to be the only one in 4th grade that isn’t using instagram, twitter and vine.
Dating as young as 5th and 6th grade is appropriate and expected. Parents encourage boy/girl group dates to the movies and going to homecoming together before our children are ready to stop watching Saturday morning cartoons.
We need you. We need you to be true to the gospel that, because it is alive and active, jumped off a page and engaged your heart all those years ago. We need you to stand by the truth, certainly presenting it in love, but not allowing yourself to be deceived into believing that compromise and being uncontroversial are what your congregation desires. The fact is…it may not be popular, it certainly isn’t. But we as believers are called to declare His truth, His opinions, and His way. It isn’t ours to debate or water down. It is our responsibility to present it to a lost world that is literally drowning in the chaos and deception of the world. Say without apology what the Lord lays on your heart. Challenge us to be world changes, to understand that we live by a divine standard. Not out of a works mentality but out of our sincere adoration of our God.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15
Your work is difficult and your calling great. I am thankful that He has equipped you in advance. Thank you for taking a stand for the truth that sets us free. Thank you for upholding a standard in a world that believes all is relative. Thank you for sacrificing your time and emotion for the least of these. Thank you for reminding us that we are called to make an impact for the Kingdom. Called to be different. Destined to believe a King who wrote a beautiful love story for a pure, spotless Bride.
Candy Gibbs is the Executive Director of the CareNet Pregnancy Centers in Amarillo, Texas. She is the author of Chosen and Pearls mentoring curriculums for pre-teen and teen girls. The goal of the two curricula is to encourage and provide practical ways to assist young people in living lives of purity and integrity in all areas. With a degree in Psychology from West Texas A&M University, Candy has served as the national co-chair for the Campaign for Life in America.
A national speaker, Candy Gibbs loves sharing with parents giving insight and encouragement for raising young people to live lives of purpose in a difficult culture. Her information is practical and timely and has been featured in articles for various publications across the country. Candy hosts “The Truth of the Matter,” an Amarillo based radio program and has been a guest on the nationally syndicated talk show “Parent Talk” with Randy Carlson.
Candy and her husband of 15 years Brian, reside in Bushland, Texas along with their daughter Madi 12, son Jake 14, adult son, Tanner, a precious daughter-in-law Whitney and first grandson, Bracen.