Shotgun Weddings

By A Concerned Father

There is an increasing incidence of so-called “shotgun weddings” among members of our Lord’s church. It is apparent that the primary cause of this is fornication. In fact, statistics show that more than I million teenage girls get pregnant each year! But does fornication that leads to conception necessarily demand a wedding? Or do parents (because of social pressures and embarrassment) force young people to get married under such circumstances? It is my conviction that the latter is the case most of the time when there is a shotgun wedding.

I have chosen to write this article without including my name or situation in life to say something that I never heard anyone say before. You see, I was married at an early age because I committed fornication, and she became pregnant. My parents didn’t know about this until the baby was due, and we were not forced by anyone to go ahead with the marriage. But, we felt the social pressures that prevail among “respectable people,” and so we were married. Since that time, I have seen a multiplicity of cases like ours which have ended in divorce. This has caused me to wonder how wise it is to encourage (yea even force!) young people to go ahead and get married when they get “caught” in fornication.

It may be that we are forgetting a very basic, biblical fact: fornication can be forgiven, but a marriage cannot! Perhaps the lax attitudes among some so-called “gospel preachers” these days, would cause some to take issue with this statement, but I firmly believe that the Bible so teaches! Is it not better to endure the shame of bearing a child out of wedlock, than to face the possibility of spending the remaining days of your life alone because of an unscriptural divorce? These are serious questions that are seldom considered by those who are “caught in fornication,” but I am convinced that they should and in fact must be considered by those who truly love the Lord.

I would also like to give attention to some of the cases (many which I know of personally) where God-fearing young people do marry as a result of fornication, and stay together! There can be no doubt that in most of these cases, one or the other partner has felt that he was trapped into the marriage – especially when things aren’t going just right! It is true, that those who care about their souls will work it out, but some will simply throw in the towel and get a divorce!

There is the possibility that some will feel a sense of resentment toward the child conceived in fornication! This can lead to an unwholesome atmosphere in the home and result in emotional problems for the child. I am thankful that this has not been the case in my family!

Then, there are the problems that come from “mathematicians” (even now I can see some with their calculators checking their preacher’s wedding anniversary against the age of his oldest child!). Couples who were married because of fornication, and who have made public acknowledgment of their sin (which I believe is necessary, 1 John 1:9; James 5:16) often live in fear that someone will “add-it-up” and say something about it! This has never happened to us, but we have never said too much about our anniversary date in an effort to avoid such a problem! Again, this does not encourage happiness in a marriage! A wedding anniversary should be a happy time, not a time to dread each year!

And of course, there is the fear of the time when your children reach an accountable age, and you must explain the situation to them. I don’t know how others have deaft with this, but I am thankful that our children have not held this against us. I would like to think that our attempt to live the life that God directs has caused them to respect us for what we are now, and not for the sins we have committed in the past. But this is something that few if any who force marriage on young couples, ever think about!

Without any doubt, the solution to this problem is to avoid fornication! And I am thankful that our children are striving to live after God’s divine plan! But would I force one of them to marry if they were “caught” in fornication? No! And in fact I would discourage it — even if they thought they were hopelessly in love! Why? Because they can always repent of fornication and be forgiven, but they cannot repent and be forgiven of a marriage!

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 24, p. 737
December 19, 1985