Christian Ministries Internship I
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Dick Pritchard & Dr. Steve Gerali
"CASE STUDY: Crisis Pregnancy"
Case Study: "Crisis Pregnancy"
(Group 2 – Borgmann,
Buys, Comfort, Cronin, Kappen, Krill, Nation, Werner, and Williams)
Meadows Community Church is a fairly conservative church in a small bedroom community. The church has a rich history in the community, having been established over 80 years ago. Many of the "pillar" families of the community are regular attendees of this church of about 500. The church is known for its strong commitment to "Christian family values". This became an attractive distinctive for John (a recent seminary graduate) and his new wife of two years, Laura; thus convincing them to accept the church's call to be their Youth Pastor.
The senior pastor is highly respected. He has been at the church for over a decade. His wife is active in the community and the church and his daughter, Sarah and son, Jack attended and graduated from the only public high school in the county. The church has been talking seriously about starting a private Christian high school as an alternative to the "secular education" that is being delivered. Parents at MCC have been supportive of this effort because they want a curriculum that will be "God-honoring" particularly in the area of science, sexuality and culture.
When John came to be the Youth Pastor of MCC the Pastor's kids were just starting high school. There was an immediate attachment with both kids. The Pastor and his wife are very supportive of the Youth Pastor and have affirmed their confidence in his ability. They trusted John's care over their children even with confidential issues.
Sarah went away to a Christian College after her graduation. She kept in constant touch with John and his wife. Spring break of her junior year, Sarah decided to spend the break at home. She reconnected with John and Laura. One evening in their living room, Sarah confessed in confidentiality, that the previous summer she got pregnant and secretly had an abortion. Her parents didn't know about this and she planned to never tell them. She didn't want them to experience hurt or the residual consequences of her sin. Through her tears she stated that living with the secret pain of her abortion was the better alternative than living with the cruel rejection and condemnation of the church.
As the youth pastor in this situation, it is clear that the church and the senior pastor have set the precedent of trusting the youth pastor in situations that are deemed confident, including situations with their children (line 17-19). Given that the pastor's daughter came to him in confidentiality, the youth pastor has both an ethical and historical claim that he is not responsible to inform anyone regarding the situation. The larger issue facing the youth pastor is two-fold: 1) the restoration of the young woman, and 2) the future actions that can be taken by him and others in church leadership to create an environment that prevents this situation like this from happening, while concurrently creating a body that can accept situations like this in love. It seems that the young woman does have unresolved pain from the situation, but to what extent, and how much the pain consumes her life is unclear. We also are unaware at this time how much of her actions were due to a lack of teaching on the topic, or simply adolescent rebellion, as this would help determine what steps in the future need to be created. It is also unclear whether the young women's perception of the church is accurate but it could be assumed that it potentially is correct, and therefore, her desire to keep this a secret would be advantageous for her family position.
The theological issue of sanctuary comes up in regards to this case study. There are many in the church that feel the proper thing to do in this situation would be to inform the daughter's father about what happened during her collegiate experience. However, we must step back and consider if this is the most appropriate theological decision to be made. It is true that there are many situations in the biblical text where sin is exposed to the surrounding body (John 8, Acts 5). However, in these cases the Bible appears to say one of two things: 1) it is up to God to do the exposing (Acts 5) or 2) that it was inappropriate for the body to do the exposing (John 8). What then must be examined is the issue of sanctuary or asylum. From the beginning of the Israelite culture after fleeing Egypt, God had established six cities where people could run for refuge (Numbers 35). It was important to God that His people had a place they were able to confide and run to with out fear of repercussion. In addition to that, the narrative regarding David and Bathsheba indicates that there was also the context of sanctuary. Although this narrative appears to be a public story for the contemporary reader, it is not as clear whether or not this story was exposed to the surrounding members of the kingdom. If anything, in 2Sam 12:21 it appears that those surrounding King David were surprised by his actions, thus indicating that even in as public of a scandal as this, the body of God provided sanctuary to David and allowed God to be the one who brought the consequence of his sin. While there may be other theological issues at hand here, what can be concluded is that it appears God leaves His people to be a place of sanctuary, before a place of exposition, and this sanctuary should be upheld in order to provide restoration and healing.