Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has a 2016 article by Sam Parkison excoriating Christian men for not marrying single mothers. Parkison calls Christian men’s preferences in this regard vanity, and repeats the charge three times:
But functionally, marriage is still idealized to be something vainer than what Scripture calls it.
1. Single Christian moms are as pure as the sinless Son of God, which is more than you deserve in a wife.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” (Proverbs 18:22) Period. A wife is a gift of God’s grace, and grace is undeserved. If this is the case, then having the vain expectation of marrying a childless virgin is unwarranted.
We are not told in Ephesians 5:22-31 that marriage is intended to satisfy vain expectations, or that it’s the entitled reward of a virgin for a virgin…
Parkison opens with a lengthy criticism of the Evangelical purity movement. What he gets wrong however is the problem with the movement is not that it stresses purity while delaying marriage, but that it focuses on waiting instead of marrying. His frame is that the sin of single mothers is that they failed to keep themselves pure during what modern Christians euphemistically call “the wait”. The biblical perspective however is that they chose fornication instead of marriage. As the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Cor 7:8-9 (ESV):
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Parkison assures us that all of the single mothers in the church know they sinned (facts not in evidence), but he is oddly silent regarding repentance:
Many of the single moms in our churches became single moms by virtue of having sex out of wedlock. As a Christian, I make no bones about the fact that such an act was sinful. In fact, the Christian single mom also acknowledges that her act of sex outside of marriage was a sin.
In fairness to the unrepentant single mothers, men like Parkison stressing what a gift their out of wedlock child is to their future husband, and what a boon it will be to their marriage has to make repentance seem unnecessary. The fruits of her past sin will make their marriage (and therefore her husband) more holy! (emphasis mine)
…a biblical understanding of children leads us to conclude that the baby produced by this sinful act is an unimaginably grand and beautiful gift!
…such a marriage also has the potential of reflecting the gospel to an even greater degree, since it reflects not only Christ’s love for his Bride, but also the Father’s love for his adopted children! Far from being a burden, marriage to a single mom is brimming with gospel-displaying potential.
None of this is to say that single mothers don’t repent, or that Christian men should never marry a repentant single mother (I respect another man’s personal decision on this). But what Parkison and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are doing here is cruel to all involved. It is cruel to single mothers for encouraging them to count their past sin as a gift to their future husband, instead of helping them see that while our sins are forgiven in Christ, the temporal consequences of our sins remains. Instead of encouraging humility regarding their past sins, he encourages them to see themselves as a more attractive prospect as a Christian wife. It is cruel to the Christian men reading as well, because it teaches them to deny the sins of women and therefore sets them and their families up for even more misery.
Lastly, the whole perspective betrays a contempt for Christian married fathers, especially the Christian men who marry repentant single mothers with full understanding of what they are taking on. Instead of treating these men with respect, Parkison dismisses their graciousness by pretending it wasn’t gracious at all! Parkison is stealing other men’s graciousness for himself.