By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
We’re told in John 16:33 that we will have trials in this life. And while trials come in different forms, we can’t ignore that some come in the form of moral dilemmas and risk relational upset. For some, being invited to a baby shower for an unwed mother can be just that - a moral dilemma that risks relational tension or even the end of a relationship.
If you’re facing such a dilemma, know that I can’t make this decision for you. I can, however, offer you some things to think about that might make the decision-making process easier. As with any tough decision, I encourage you to pray for wisdom and discernment. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” May the following ideas give you more to think about, and may the Lord guide you in making this decision.
We know from Romans 14:23 that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Paul is teaching Christians in Rome to stop judging each other regarding secondary matters of religious practice. He is specifically talking to them about religious practices regarding food and holy days. Still, the principle can also be applied to our lives, and deciding whether to attend a baby shower for an unwed mother is a perfect example.
For some, the answer may be a clear resounding, “Yes! It’s okay to attend this baby shower.” For others, making this decision might cause anxiety and worry, as it feels like a possible sin issue. This is where Paul’s teaching comes into play. If you can say with a clear conscience that attending such a baby shower is okay, then go and enjoy yourself. If, however, you feel going would violate your conscience and would be sinful, then you should not go.
This is where we need to keep digging into Paul’s message to the church of Rome. He isn’t just explaining the importance of listening to your conscience and proceeding in faith. He goes a step further and tells them to focus on peace, building one another up, and avoiding quarrels.
Paul was telling people not to judge and mistreat one another over whether or not to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. An important application for us would be to avoid judging and mistreating one another for attending or not attending a baby shower for an unwed mother.
The Purpose of a Baby Shower
Evidence of baby showers dates back to Roman times when ladies gathered together to knit and loom clothing and coverings for a new baby. Baby showers, as we know them today, became popular after World War II. I’m confident the structure of these parties has changed over the years, but the purpose has remained the same.
Baby showers not only provide emotional support for the mother-to-be, but they also allow friends and family to celebrate new life and help provide necessary items for the care of the baby. This tradition is a public way of recognizing a woman’s transition into motherhood. And this might be more important than you think. You aren’t just showing up with a gift to help fill her baby care needs - your presence shows that you are someone she can count on as she grows in her womanhood and learns to raise and nurture this baby.
I’m speaking to women here because, traditionally, women make up the guest lists for baby showers. Think about Titus 2: 4- 5, which says, “And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
I challenge you to think about how you can pour these principles into the life of an unwed mother. How can you pour into her and prepare her for the day she is married? Can you speak into her life and help her grow into a godly woman if you aren’t participating in one of the most important seasons of her life?
What You Aren’t Celebrating
It’s important to remember what you are and are not celebrating by attending a baby shower for an unwed mother. It may feel like, by attending, you’re turning a blind eye to her sexual union outside of God’s design. You may fear others in attendance will assume you support her relational decisions. You may fear judgment from those who aren’t in attendance but know you attended after seeing pictures shared on social media.
This is a good time to consider if you are struggling with fear of man or fear of God. We don’t have to look far into Scripture to see examples of Jesus spending quality time with those living in sin. In Luke 19, for example, we see Jesus seeking out Zacchaeus. We are told that Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home, and in verse 7, we see that “when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Mark 2:15 says, “And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples,” We aren’t Jesus. We are followers and imitators of Jesus. While I would not apply these verses to every relational moral dilemma, I do feel comfortable applying them to attending a baby shower for an unwed mother. Remember, attending does not mean you are celebrating her lifestyle or celebrating sin. You are opening a door for a deeper, more meaningful relationship that could lead to future discipleship opportunities. What you are doing is imitating Jesus by showing love and extending grace.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Estradaanton
What You Are Celebrating
Simply put, by attending a baby shower for an unwed mother, you are celebrating life. Statically, 25% of women in the United States will have an abortion by the end of their childbearing years. The majority of these women are unmarried. This woman may have a dedicated man in her life. They may even live together. But if they are unwed, she is single. If you have the opportunity to attend a baby shower for an unwed mother, you can most definitely celebrate the fact that she chose life.
Most Christians are opposed to abortion. We sign petitions, we volunteer at rallies, we give money to pro-life organizations, and these are all good things. But we need to be willing to live this out practically, and a very practical way to live out your pro-life beliefs is to come alongside a single woman who has chosen life for her child and celebrate her decision and the life growing inside of her. I would also suggest that the love and support you show this woman and child should continue long after the baby shower.
Something else to consider is that the woman carrying this child is a human being, made in the image of God. She will face judgment, scrutiny, discrimination, and dehumanization over the choices she has made. Just as your own sin struggles have a backstory that most people don’t know about, so do hers. You don’t know the generational cycles she’s a part of, the lessons she’s learned from the men in her life or the objectification she’s received from our culture. She likely questions her value. Celebrating her as an image-bearer can be a glorious way to imitate Jesus and demonstrate his undeserved love.
These situations are delicate and should be thought through, prayed about, and handled with care. Whether or not your conscience allows you to attend a baby shower for an unwed mother, I encourage you to be able to articulate the reasons behind your conviction. But articulate your conviction with love, compassion, and tenderness towards those whose convictions are different from your own.
In all these discussions, may we be reminded of the love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy that our heavenly Father has given us. May we all strive, in light of difficult decisions, to remember 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and mother of two adult sons. She is a freelance writer and author of Sister Sunday, My So Much More, and His Power, Our Weakness: Encouragement for the Biblical Counselor. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and OCD. Beth has a heart for homeschooling, women’s ministry, and is an ACBC-certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.