I get it. The school doesn’t want to celebrate the girl getting pregnant but obviously they’re sure happy that she kept herself pregnant. But it seems to me that disallowing her to walk in her graduation is erring on the side of…unmerciful. I get that you don’t want premarital sex to be glorified by celebrating her pregnancy but my goodness, we are all sinners.
Seems to me that Kristan Hawkins has it right.
Maddi Runkles has never been a disciplinary problem.
She has a 4.0 average at Heritage Academy, the small private Christian school she attends; played on the soccer team; and served as president of the student council. But when her fellow seniors don blue caps and gowns at graduation early next month, Runkles, 18, will not be among them.
The reason? She is pregnant.
The decision by school officials to bar Runkles from “walking” at graduation – and to remove her from her student council position – would have remained private, but for her family’s decision to seek help from Students for Life. The anti-abortion group, which took her to a recent rally in Washington, argues that she should be lauded, not punished, for her decision to keep her baby.
“She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed,” said Kristan Hawkins, the Students for Life president, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade the administrator of Heritage Academy to reverse the decision. “There has got to be a way to treat a young woman who becomes pregnant in a graceful and loving way.”
David Hobbs, administrator at Heritage Academy, a nondenominational independent school in Hagerstown, Maryland, where students take daily Bible classes, declined to discuss Runkles. In a written statement issued on behalf of the school’s board of directors, he said she would earn a diploma, and called her pregnancy “an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place.”
Runkles’ story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.
“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity – or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”
Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.
“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Kempton said. Of Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option’.”
This is exactly the kind of thing that makes people look at Christians and say “ewww.” You can love the girl without celebrating her decision to have premarital sex. And yeah, keeping the baby is a great thing she’s doing. And while the school shouldn’t glorify her pregnancy, maybe as a Christian institution they should be doing everything they can to help her through this very difficult time in her life.