Illegitimate vs. Legitimate Parenting

Main Entry: il·le·git·i·mate
Function: adjective
Date: 1536

1 : not recognized as lawful offspring; specifically : born of parents not married to each other
2 : not rightly deduced or inferred
3 : departing from the regular

Society has for far too long labeled human kind born in adverse circumstances. Back in the day, children born out of wedlock were labeled ‘illegitimate‘ (I was one of them); and children born whose father abandoned the mother or wanted nothing to do with becoming a parent were labeled ‘bastards‘. How unfair to the child. . . I and children like me, were considered less than those who had both parents. Many families turned their backs on their daughters, put them out and shamed them while the men walked freely without much ridicule – they were ‘being a man’. I have a saying: times change but human nature does not.

The new term ‘illegitimate parents’ does not mean a man and woman are bad parents. When you reverse the term “illegitimate child” and “illegitimate parent” it means the parents have gotten the order of things wrong. They became parents before becoming spouses. . .God’s order is marriage, then children. While there are women/men/couples who intentionally have children without the covenant of marriage, I believe there are many who got caught up in “lust” and the passion of the moment whose end result was pregnancy. For those who chose to keep the child rather than abort, the private sin between two people became very public.

Children are precious in God’s sight regardless of the timing of their appearance. I thank God that even when we get things out of order, because of His permissive will, we are still able to receive His mercy and grace in our times of need.

Does that mean that God abandons us when we get the order wrong? No. . .especially not when we are broken, we’ve confessed our sin and dis-order before Him, and make that 180 degree turn. God requires all parents to raise their children up with reverential fear and love for Him. He says to teach His laws and precepts to our children at all times and to not forbid children to come to Him.

There are many couples who were ‘pregnant’ before they were married, but because they ‘rushed’ to the altar it was perceived as acceptable – but we all can do the math. There are many couples who got under the radar of the church because they were ‘not in church’ when they were in their foolishness; thus, no one knew nor could condemn. I’m in no way condoning the pre-marital sexual actions of men and women; but we must look through the loving lenses of our heavenly Father if those actions result in the birth of a living soul. Don’t walk away from the church, but lean in to it. God offers forgiveness, mercy and grace.

We all have sins and past actions that we are not proud of. Many of them are hidden from the masses. We must protect what is precious in God’s sight by building our children up, instilling confidence, strength, love, compassion and faith.

What are your thoughts on this?

About Author

Karen is an Associate Pastor at CrossWord Christian Church in Moreno Valley, CA. She is also the dynamic leader of the Winsome Women's Ministry there. Karen is also a Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula. In addition to walking in her purpose as a doula and encourager, she is the proud wife of Bishop L. Kirk Sykes, a beloved mother of 5, and "Mim" to six grandchildren.


  • Alicia
    April 20, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Pastor Karen, one of the reasons I love Cross Word Church is our leaders and their ability to address real life issues that Christians in this day and time face. Your statement that we all have sins and past actions that we are not proud of hit home for me. Personally, I am thankful that I serve a merciful and forgiving God. I praise God that although we got things out of order by living together before we were married, He continues to bless our marriage and our family. Without His forgiveness, we All would be in terrible shape.

  • Stephanie
    April 20, 2010 at 3:41 am

    You know I’ve never been one given to LABELS or LABELING. I firmly believe that people, thus life and situations just are what they are. Yes of course we constantly choose our path by decisions. The decisions that you make throughout (each and everyday) have a profound influence on all aspects life. I need HIM, GODs’ goodness constantly covers and transforms my life.

    That’s why I’ve always felt that Labeling was somehow: cold, unfair, unjust in essence dishonest. Dishonest to self, society and I dare say that I believe to GOD. As if we haven’t all been there. Your there may have been different from mine but if we are truthful with ourselves we all know where there is.

    I suspect that people label attempting to categorize somehow to make life (situations) easier to quantify/qualify. This seems so futile to me. How inept are my concepts and/or perceptions to rank, rate, or tag? For you see I did not make the master key, or plan for anything. As I think about it we’ve been called to love not necessarily to understand. How do you wrap your mind around the sovereign GOD of this world? HIS thoughts and ways are high above ours. But you can believe HIS purposes in all things are true.

    In no way will I understand everything that life will offer, you know the (who, what, when, where, why) I have resolved that some things I won’t understand until I get to Glory. I can and will see my way through when I keep my hands, arms, feet, toes, eyes, ears….. (you get the picture) in Gods’ hands. I praise HIM that HE does a new thing daily in (our) lives, I’m grateful for his unfailing Grace, Love that shelters, picks us up when we’re down and surrounds us with hope and encouragement….. that oftentimes we don’t receive from this world not even our own family members. As women of GOD and mothers I hope and pray that we will always have the following hands………

    Bill Withers sang a song “Grandmas Hands”… A few verses went a little something like this….Grandma’s Hands clapped at church on Sunday morning, soothed the local unwed mother, used to ache sometimes and swell, used to give me a piece of candy, said Billy don’t run so fast. It’s a symbolic picture of hands that have experienced life, cared for and supported GODs’ people in sundry ways. What a picture of JESUS. Grandma knew “Living in a Glass House, Don’t Throw No Stones”.

    The bible says that children are indeed a blessing from GOD, precious jewels. Isn’t it ironic that the new Jerusalem’s foundation is various precious stones/jewels? Even upon this present earth GOD uses HIS children to build HIS kingdom. He told Peter upon this rock I will build my church….We all play a very integral part in GODs’ Master Plan.

    So for me the impetus is not to Label How or the Way of anything, but more deeply WHOM. Through-It-All, We are HIS jewels, precious in HIS sight chosen, formed, made, in the image of GOD for HIS ‘Best, Ultimate Purposes’!


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