A lot of churches today conduct premarital pregnancy tests on ladies who are about to get married, with a view to ascertaining the conceptional status of the woman. The aim is to refuse to wed a woman who is pregnant. Is it biblical for the church to conduct prenuptial pregnancy tests on women? Is it scriptural to refuse to wed a pregnant woman? We shall examine the Bible to find the scriptural position on these issues.
I’ll be upfront about the fact that premarital sex is condemned by the Bible. God’s ideal scenario is for people to marry as chaste virgins. In the Old Testament, if a woman lost her virginity before marriage, she would be considered to have played the harlot in her father’s house, and she would be stoned to death! That’s how sinful God considers premarital sex!
Deuteronomy 22:13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her
Deuteronomy 22:14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,”
Deuteronomy 22:15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin.
Deuteronomy 22:16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her.
Deuteronomy 22:17 Now he has slandered her and said, ’I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town,
Deuteronomy 22:18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him.
Deuteronomy 22:19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
Deuteronomy 22:20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found,
Deuteronomy 22:21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you (NIV).
Thankfully, no one gets stoned again for marrying as a non-virgin (at least in Christianity and in Western-style democracies). However, remaining a virgin till one marries is still a highly desirable virtue, because it not only protects one against unwanted pregnancies and a host of sexually transmitted diseases (including incurable diseases like HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer), it also preserves reproductive health and prevents sexual bonding with too many people. Above all, it’s an act of obedience to God’s commandment! Sex sins are the only sins one commits against one’s own body. Your body directly bears the consequences of sex sins, be it sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies or damages to one’s reproductive organs. It pays to keep your virginity till you’re married, because the moment the sexual dam is broken and you experience sex, the moral, emotional, psychological and health implications of sexual relationships can be destructive, apart from the bonding with each sex partner that can affect your marriage later! God isn’t joking when he commands single people to flee from fornication! Fornication can negatively impact your life in so many ways!
1 Corinthians 6:15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body? Should I take the parts of Christ’s body and make them parts of a prostitute’s body? That’s unthinkable!
1 Corinthians 6:16 Don’t you realize that the person who unites himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her? God says, “The two will be one.”
1 Corinthians 6:17 However, the person who unites himself with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don’t affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies (GodsWord).
Despite God’s preference for people to marry as virgins (which is for their own good), God does forgive sex sins, like all other sins, and the blood of Jesus cleanses from all unrighteousness, including the unrighteousness of premarital sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is not the unpardonable sin! Christ’s atonement covers sex sins too, and his blood can blot them out if we place our faith in his complete redemptive work at Calvary.
1 John 1:8 If we say, “We aren’t sinful” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong (NIV).
Now, let’s get back to the issue of premarital pregnancy testing by churches. Churches who insist on premarital pregnancy testing want to make sure a lady is not pregnant before marriage. If she is, the church will not wed her, because they don’t want to wed two people (the woman and the baby in her womb) to the man! So, the pregnant lady is denied wedding until after childbirth. Do churches who act this way have any biblical mandate for such practice? There is absolutely none! To the contrary, the Old Testament taught that having sex with an unengaged virgin (with the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the encounter) was reason enough for the man who violated her to marry her immediately!
Exodus 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.
Exodus 22:17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins (NIV).
Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
Deuteronomy 22:29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives (NIV).
In the Torah, a man must immediately marry a virgin he seduced or raped, and the rapist/seducer was forbidden from ever divorcing the woman so married! Such sexual encounters from rape or seduction of a virgin carried the possibility of getting the woman pregnant. Apart from the danger of marrying as a non-virgin stated earlier, the practice of compelling a rapist/seducer of a virgin to marry her immediately was probably also to prevent any resulting pregnancy from being extra-marital, and so save the lady from the shame of siring children in her father’s house. No one will advocate for a rapist to be so punished these days. Rape carries a more severe and just penalty of prolonged imprisonment nowadays. No one also will be compelled today to marry a lady just because he seduced her and had sex with her. But the point is that, having premarital sex that could lead to pregnancy was a reason to marry off a lady, and not a reason to prevent her from being married!
Let’s now consider a strikingly similar scenario in the New Testament, to buttress the fact that God is not against the marrying of a couple when the bride is pregnant. We’ll examine the circumstances of the marriage between Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ foster parents, as recorded in Matthew’s gospel.
Matthew 1:18 This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:19 Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.
Matthew 1:20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.
Matthew 1:21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet,
Matthew 1:23 “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).
Matthew 1:24 So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.
Matthew 1:25 But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus (GNT).
Here’s the clincher! Mary got pregnant (by the Holy Spirit) after her engagement to Joseph, but before they were married. Joseph decided to cancel the engagement and put her away, on perceived grounds of sexual immorality and unfaithfulness, having never had sexual relations with her. However, an angel of God appeared to him and reassured him about Mary’s faithfulness, and the supernatural nature of her pregnancy. The angel further encouraged him to go ahead and marry Mary. Joseph, having had his doubts about Mary cleared, went ahead and married her in her pregnant state! Joseph married Mary while she was pregnant, according to the instructions of God’s angel! The angel didn’t tell Joseph to wait until the child was born before marrying Mary. He told him to marry her right away, in her pregnant state! If God will authorise a couple to marry when the bride was pregnant, who are the churches to forbid people to marry when the bride is with child? What an affront to God, that supposedly men of God will enact traditions that stand in stark opposition and rebellion to the word of God?! If God approves a practice, who are mere mortals to say otherwise? How dare you challenge your Maker? How dare you portray yourself as being more righteous than God? Let God be true and let every man be a liar!
Let’s examine the implications of this policy of some churches with regard to premarital pregnancy testing. A number of ladies have been known to induce abortions of unplanned pregnancies for men who were ready to marry them, just because they didn’t want to be denied a church wedding! The church is complicit in such abortions conducted to meet its stringent requirement of pregnancy-free brides at the altar. Next, traditional marriage rites have usually been completed for such couples who were just trying to fulfil all righteousness with the church wedding, which is only ceremonial in value, since the traditional and court marriages are the real marriages in Africa. Why will the church deny a ceremonial marriage to a couple who have already been married traditionally and legally? That’s not only absurd, it’s actually senseless! The validity of a church wedding that requires a prior traditional wedding is being rightly questioned, as church weddings have no basis in Scripture. To now add an unscriptural roadblock to an unscriptural ceremony makes the whole practice comical and clownish! We’re making the modern day church a real laughing stock among people with common sense, with our unbiblical and unreasonable practices! With such unbiblical practices that put the traditions of men above the word of God, we end up making hypocrites out of believers!
A couple who engage in sex after being married traditionally have committed no sin, because they’ve been married lawfully, having been married according to the only way the Bible prescribes. Such a marriage is honourable, blessed of God and the fruit thereof should be celebrated by all! Even if the lady got pregnant before she got married traditionally, all she requires is confession of her sin of premarital sex to God, and the Lord will forgive her. Having been forgiven of her sins, the Lord does not hold the pregnancy resulting from her sin against her. Why should any man of God hold a sin against someone whom the Lord has forgiven?
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life.
1 Corinthians 7:2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband (NLT).
As we can see from the Scripture above, to avoid sexual immorality, people should be encouraged to marry, and not have obstacles put in their way of marriage! The church should be making it easier for people who want to get married to do so, so that people avoid sexual immorality! Rather than doing worthless pregnancy tests to determine who should be married or not, let’s obey scripture and marry off those that are ready to get married. It’s better to marry off an intending couple immediately, so they can have a legitimate outlet for their sexual passions, than to allow them burn with lusts and keep committing sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:8 Now I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.
1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust (NLT).
Let me summarise the utter hypocrisy of some churches on this issue for all to see: a couple who cannot keep their passions under control and had been having illegitimate sex now decides to get married inorder to have lawful sex. The lady has gotten pregnant along the way. The couple is disqualified from getting married because the lady got pregnant before the church wedding. What the church is saying is, ” keep living in sexual immorality till the woman delivers, we’ll wed you after she has put to bed”! Isn’t that the height of hypocrisy and violation of God’s word by a stupid tradition of men? After delivery, the church will not hesitate to conduct naming ceremony and child dedication for the baby they’ve allowed to be delivered out of wedlock. The only thing that comes to mind at this point is Jesus’ withering rebuke of the hypocritical Pharisees!
St. Mark 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
St. Mark 7:7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
St. Mark 7:8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
St. Mark 7:9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (NIV).
The reason churches give for refusing to wed a pregnant woman is to avoid wedding the baby in the womb also to the man! Can anything be more absurd or more comical? By marrying Mary while she was pregnant, did Joseph also marry Jesus who was in her womb? When a man has sex with his pregnant wife, does he have sex with the baby in the womb too? When an employer hires a pregnant woman, does he employ the baby in her womb also? When people stop acting based on the word of God and common sense, they will soon start believing any myth! When you depart from the word of God, you’ll give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Before long, such a church will become a pillar and ground of fables!
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth (AKJV).
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
2 Timothy 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (ESV).
In conclusion, premarital pregnancy testing has no basis in Scripture. Worse still, the idea of forbidding pregnant women from getting married while they’re pregnant is unscriptural and unreasonable. Sexual intimacy between an unmarried couple is a compelling reason to hurry them to get married. And if a pregnancy has resulted from such sexual encounter, we should hasten the marriage procedure, rather than prevent them from getting married! Joseph married Mary while she was pregnant for Jesus, following the instructions of an angel of God, forever settling the matter that marrying a pregnant lady is scriptural and approved of God. Therefore, for as long as a couple continue to live in sexual immorality because the church declined to marry them on account of the woman being pregnant, the church is an accomplice in their sexual immorality! And should a pregnant woman induce an abortion in order to be allowed to wed in church, the church too bears responsibility for the murder of the innocent baby.