If you’ve been on social media at all in the last week, you’ve probably heard about Maddi Runkles, a teenage girl in Maryland who is being denied the ability to walk in graduation because she had sex before marriage. How do we know this? Because she is pregnant and chose life for her unborn child. This is a hard decision for a teenage girl to make and if we are truly as pro-life as we claim to be, now is the time to support, not shame, this girl.
Maddi has been removed from leadership, apologized, and repented of her actions. To further punish her is taking this too far and not honoring to our Christian faith.
When Jesus was confronted with an adulterous woman in John 8, He did not punish her with the law, instead, He told those ready to punish her that if they were without sin, they were welcome to start throwing stones. They all quietly left.
Jesus was in the business of grace. It hurts to see those in Christ living as if they are under the law. We must have standards as a Christian community. If someone is outside those standards, we are charged to call them to accountability and to, as Paul says in Galatians, restore them “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6). The school’s actions in the name of Christ are not gentle, they are unnecessarily hurtful. Banning and barring to make an example is the opposite of restoration, it is exclusion because of sin.
People, it’s time to put our stones down and restore those around us. Grace does not bar, it welcomes with open arms. If Maddi has repented and is no longer living in sin, it is time to welcome her back into the flock with the same grace we have been shown. Her sin, sexual immorality, is listed along with envy, drunkenness, anger, rivalry, and divisions in Galatians 5. We are not without sin. It is wrong of us to throw the stones. If those who are angry or envious can walk, why can a repentant girl, who made the difficult decision to own her sin, not?
In addition, we need to consider what undo burdens, such as the inability to join in graduation, might lead to. This not only provides an additional reason for another girl to choose a quiet abortion over the hard walk of choosing life, it minimizes the Gospel.
Christ’s work is sufficient to cover her sin. If we add on additional punishments, we are taking away from His work instead of glorifying Him for restoring broken people to the Church, His bride.
Maddi, You belong in our churches. Jesus is enough to cover your sin. It is wrong of us, those also with sin, to deem you less worthy than we are. I am sorry you cannot walk in graduation, but know that you can walk into our churches with your head held high. If you have repented, you are restored to the Body of Christ and we welcome you and your child.