How should we react to pregnancy outside of marriage?

In our society, pregnancy outside of marriage is a common occurrence; thus, we tend to react casually when it happens. Is it something that should be treated casually? If not, how should we react?

As you read the following story from Genesis, notice Judah’s reaction when he found out his widowed daughter-in-law was pregnant. His reaction was the opposite of what happens in our society. Should we react the way he did?

Gen. 38:6 ¶ Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.

Gen. 38:7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life.

Gen. 38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.”

Gen. 38:9 Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother.

Gen. 38:10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.

Gen. 38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”; for he thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

Gen. 38:12 ¶ Now after a considerable time Shua’s daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

Gen. 38:13 It was told to Tamar, “Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”

Gen. 38:14 So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.

Gen. 38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face.

Gen. 38:16 So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”

Gen. 38:17 He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” She said, moreover, “Will you give a pledge until you send it?”

Gen. 38:18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” And she said, “Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.

Gen. 38:19 Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.

Gen. 38:20 ¶ When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her.

Gen. 38:21 He asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.”

Gen. 38:22 So he returned to Judah, and said, “I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no temple prostitute here.’”

Gen. 38:23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep them, otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this young goat, but you did not find her.”

Gen. 38:24 ¶ Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!

When Judah found out Tamar was pregnant without being married, he wanted to burn her. Keep in mind that Judah had visited a prostitute, so there was some hypocrisy in his response. Tamar had been very shrewd and was able to prove that Judah was the father of her child. How did Judah respond when he found out he was the father?

Gen. 38:25 It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “I am with child by the man to whom these things belong.” And she said, “Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?”

Gen. 38:26 Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.

Judah realized that he was more guilty than Tamar. He was guilty because he hadn’t given Tamar to his third son as he should have, and he was the one who had fathered Tamar’s child.

The Bible contains many verses that address immorality. But unlike Judah’s initial response where he simply wanted to punish the female, many Bible verses concerning immorality address men. Consider the following.

1Cor. 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!

1Cor. 6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”

1Cor. 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

1Cor. 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

1Cor. 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

1Cor. 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

The Bible does not tell us to burn immoral people, but neither is it okay to be flippant about immorality. Immorality is serious, as proven by the following verse.

Eph. 5:3 ¶ But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;


 Further Reading

What should we do when we are a moral minority?

Do we despise virginity?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”