Monday, April 2, 2012

The Gift of Life

How would you respond to this situation?

Before I describe it, let me point out three things:

First, as you may know, I am a big fan of marriage. I think the public declaration of marriage is marvelous thing, and generally far more important to building healthy communities than cohabitation. As usual, this is only my own opinion, and I don't impose it on anyone else. I have many friends who are not married, but consider themselves as being in lifelong relationships, and that's good enough for me. After all, it's their life, and their view is the one that matters there.

Secondly, I think sex is also great. (I'm not a prude, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.) But I believe that sex should be within the bounds of marriage. To me, it is a great way to enhance intimacy within a relationship, and helps bring two souls ever closer together.

Finally, I think that kids are an absolute treasure. "Children are", in the words of the Universal House of Justice, "the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect with impunity."

That being said, I have had a lot of friends in recent days call to say that they are pregnant. Now this may not seem like any cause for anything other than rejoicing, but most of them are not married, and this has made me think a lot about these issues in recent days.

I know that many fundamentalists would condemn these people, and consider their children to be somehow less "worthy" for being created outside of the bonds of matrimony. There are some very dear friends who were kicked out of their communities for having children out of wedlock. This, to me, is just ridiculous.

But what would you say to someone who is going to have a baby without the safety net, if you will, of a healthy marriage?

Me? I think that my personal view is irrelevant. It is not my life, and nobody else is bound to live by my particular moral view.

I am so happy for the mother. And the child. When I offer my congratulations, it is both sincere and heartfelt.

When I say a prayer for both of them, that prayer is both sincere and heartfelt.

When I say how excited I am to be able to meet and greet this new soul when they are born into this world, that, too, is both heartfelt and sincere.

But I am also a little concerned.

I think that when you are pregnant and not married, you run into three possible situations:
1. The mother is unsupported without the father in the situation
2. You rush into marriage, or some other form of a life-long commitment, without investigating character, and are badly hurt
3. You marry (or... see above) and get lucky.

But I am not going to go into this at the time of hearing about the wonderful gift of life that has just been bestowed upon the lucky family. No. Instead, I will do whatever I can to assist them falling into that third category. I will talk with them about the wonderful responsibility of having a child, and the tools Marielle and I used, and continue to use, with Shoghi. I will also help them find the resources for creating and sustaining a healthy relationship, as well as offer whatever assistance I can in helping them identify and achieve their own goals.

Of course, this is what Marielle I do whenever we hear of any friends getting married, so the issue of... issue... isn't an issue.

1 comment:

  1. I am in wholehearted agreement with you that the blessing of a child is indeed a blessing, and that no tragedy of circumstance can undermine the value of this blessing, detract from the child's worth and capacity, or interfere with the child's need for 'eyes to watch over' them and 'hearts to love' them.

    With regard to hearing this news (or any news!) from friends, I recall 'Abdu'l-Baha's statement that it is "incumbent upon us, when we direct our gaze toward other people, to see where they excel, not where they fail."

    I work directly with parents during pregancy and after the birth of the child in the context of education and parenting. There is much we can all do to strengthen relational and community supports for parents to give them the best possible context within which to discharge their sacred responsibilities to our future. There is no situation so dire that we should abandon any efforts or hope to improve it, and choose to do nothing instead of the little that we can. (We can remember that this is as much for our benefit as for sake of the situation itself.)

    Finally, I should hope we would have learned by now that it is not one's good decisions or perfect record that entitle us to love and support from others, but on the contrary -- that it is the very fact that we all make mistakes, sometimes without even knowing or admitting them, that should reinforce our committment to show the utmost love, leniency, forbearance, and graciousness toward others, and to offer ourselves up for their sake. (Or for the sake of their children!)

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