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What Does the Bible Say About Unplanned Pregnancy?

The United Nations Fund for Population Activities recently noted that about half of all pregnancies around the world are unplanned, pointing out that 121 million pregnancies each year are “unintended”. However, “unintended” pregnancies aren’t a modern phenomenon; since time immemorial, unplanned and even unwanted pregnancies have occurred in civilizations all over the world. Given this fact, it’s not surprising that the Bible has a fair bit to say on the topic.

Unplanned Isn’t Always Unwanted

In Bible times, it was a shame for a woman to not have children. Many of the Bible stories about unplanned pregnancies occur when God miraculously intervened to give a woman a child, in some cases even when a woman was past the age in which she could naturally conceive. Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety years old; God had foretold that this would happen, but Sarah’s initial reaction to His words makes it clear that she never expected it to actually happen. 

Isaac, her son, prayed for Rebekah to have children as it appeared she was likewise unable to conceive, and she gave birth to twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Hannah was childless, but God gave her a son whom she gave back to God; subsequently, he blessed her with several more children. Manoah’s wife was barren, but she went on to give birth to Samson after an angel appeared to her and told her she would become pregnant. Elizabeth was past child-bearing age when the angel Gabriel announced to her husband Zachariah that she would give birth to John the Baptist.

Unplanned Pregnancies in Less-Than-Ideal Circumstances

At the same time, not all unplanned pregnancies in the Bible occurred under such ideal circumstances. Before Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she urged her husband Abraham to have sex with her handmaid Hagar in order to conceive a son. There is no mention regarding whether Hagar was asked if she wanted such a relationship, but the Bible does record that. 

After getting pregnant, Hagar had a run-in with her mistress Sarah. Sarah treated her harshly and Hagar ran away even though she really had nowhere to go. God sent an angel to her to urge her to return to Abraham and Sarah. The angel also explained she was pregnant with a son, told her what the son should be named, and even described his personality. Hagar followed the angel’s instructions and God went on to make her son Ishmael a mighty warrior and the prosperous head of a tribe who, like Jacob, had twelve sons. This occurred even though Abraham eventually sent Hagar and her son away when the lad was only 13 years old.

Mary’s pregnancy was likewise completely unplanned. As a virgin, she had no reason to expect she would soon bear a son, but an angel appeared to her to tell her she would have a baby, and that the baby would be God’s Son. Mary knew full well that the people in her small hometown would not believe her; rather, they (and her husband-to-be) would think she had engaged in premarital sex, and the consequence for such a course of action was stoning under the Mosaic Law. Even so, Mary agreed to become the mother of God’s Son, and God took care of her by having an angel appear to her fiancée to explain that the baby was “conceived of the Holy Ghost”.

God’s Care for the Unborn and Their Mothers

God’s Word makes it clear that the unborn, like men and women the world over, are made in God’s image. In the book of Psalms, David talks about how God formed him from the time he was in his mother’s womb. God tells the prophet Jeremiah that he knew him when he was in his mother’s womb and sanctified him even before he was born. The Gospel of Luke records that Mary the mother of Jesus, visited Elizabeth when Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John the Baptist, and the unborn John leaped in his mother’s womb upon hearing Mary’s voice.

At the same time, God knows that an unplanned pregnancy can be incredibly difficult for any woman. He offers comfort, peace, guidance, help, and provision to anyone who needs His help. There are no “requirements” for coming to Him for assistance; Jesus clearly states in Matthew 5 that God sends sunshine and rain on everyone, just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:45).

God also commands his children to help those in need, even going so far as to tell His disciples that what they do (or don’t do, to “the least of these”, they do (or don’t do) to Him. (Matthew 25:40). To this end, Caring Network offers a range of services to women who are struggling in the wake of an unplanned or even unwanted pregnancy. Our team offers pregnancy counseling, first-step medical services, and practical assistance to ensure each woman who walks through our doors has all the help she needs during her pregnancy and even after the baby is born.

What does the Bible say about unplanned pregnancy? Put simply, it says that each child is made in the image of God, life begins before birth, and that He cares about the women who struggle with an unintended conception. It clearly states that he offers help, comfort, wisdom, care, healing, and peace to any woman who needs it, and He instructs Christians to treat the mother of an unborn child as they would treat Him.

Caring Network strives to do just that. If you, or someone you know, needs care or support in the wake of an unplanned pregnancy, reach out to us.  We’re here to come alongside you  during this challenging time so you and your little one can have the best lives possible now and in the future.

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