Christians have a special sympathy for unmarried pregnant teenagers, especially during Advent. Jesus Christ was born to one. Our particular religious history is one reason why the news that Britney Spears’ 16 year-old sister Jamie Lynn is three months pregnant is an important cultural moment.
Jamie Lynn is a star in her own right, the lead character in the Nickelodeon TV show Zoey 101. After her pregnancy became public, Viacom issued a vague statement about their respect for Jamie’s “decision to take responsibility” for her pregnancy.
Although her pregnancy is being portrayed by the media as an anomaly in the life of teens, in at least one way, Jamie Lynn is right on target with her peers: The average American loses their virginity at 16. Jamie’s decision to keep her baby was met with brutal scrutiny that few pregnant teenagers have ever had to endure. In some ways, the easier thing to do would have been to privately terminate her pregnancy. She and her family would never have had to endure this kind of media exploitation.
There are many good people within the Church and outside it who have dedicated themselves to serving women like Jamie Lynn. In doing so, they model the Christ of John’s Gospel, when during the Last Supper, He set himself to wash his followers feet as a sign of Christian charity. Christians follow Christ in that way, to love the sinner and hate the sin, to judge not, but show love through humane service.
Young women across the country are taking note of the uproar. Will the message they receive be that unplanned pregnancies bring deserved shame, or that women experiencing unplanned pregnancies also deserve unplanned joy?
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