On the priest and the unwed mother

There is a video of a priest apparently "humiliating" an unwed mother during the baptism of her child. It is going viral on Facebook and elsewhere. Here is the video and I've added a translation from Interaksyon.com

"You agree to sleep with a man who is not your husband. Is that what the church teaches you?… This child is not at fault but women and men who sleep together outside of marriage live in sin. The disgrace will be passed on to the child. In other words, you shouldn't have indulged yourselves and now have a child. Yes, the child is a blessing but it was conceived in sin. He was not conceived in… are you married?… As a Christian should you be proud of this, that you have a child but not a husband? You should be ashamed and even hide yourself. We should close this church for the shame because you would have the child baptized without a husband; you slept with a man not your husband. Did you hear me? Are you not ashamed? That should be a source of great shame. What about you, will you follow suit? (unintelligible)… This child is full of grace because he has been baptized. You have been baptized but you have not kept your baptismal vows. You should help the child fulfill these duties, but because you are crooked, there are others who will help bring up the child so he will not be crooked like you, not be like you who does not follow the Commandments of Christ. That is why this is not right, this should not be continued…"

The Catholic church in the Philippines is generally more dogmatic and conservative. This explains, perhaps, the attitude of the priest who "humiliated" the unwed mother. 

But I think what we should look at is Jesus' response to similar cases as recorded in the Bible. This is a classic case of, “What would Jesus do?” 

There is the story of a woman caught in adultery in the Gospel of John. The religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus by asking Him to judge her for violating God’s Law. 

The Law of Moses was clear. The adulteress (and supposedly, the adulterer) should be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). This is the Holy God's justice- sin is punishable by death (Romans 6:23). Such is the case to underline the weight of sin and God’s holiness or sinlessness. But amazingly, Jesus' response highlights two things. 

When pressed for an answer, He replied, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 

First, Jesus reminded the religious leaders that the Law exists to show who we are before God-- sinful men and women. It is a standard that measures a person against God. It should never be used as a standard to measure one person against another. 

We often think that being "less" sinful gives us the right to condemn others, who we judge as "more" sinful. But in God‘s sight every sin is an offense against His character, deserving the just punishment of eternal separation. Using a very good illustration: The height of skyscrapers is leveled when viewed from above. 

The issue is not on the number of sins (and all of us have countless!!!) but on the commission of even just one sin (James 2:10). 

Thus, no one has the right to condemn others on the basis of perceived righteousness. The only one who has this right is the person who has never committed a single sin in his life. This is no other than Jesus (Hebrews 4:15), who also bears the very holiness of God (Colossians 2:9).

Second, (this is humbling) the only person in the group who had the right to condemn, chose, instead, to demonstrate grace. Jesus did not condemn the adulteress but forgave her. Grace is a gift that stems from the love of God. By all standards, the woman is worthy of punishment. There was nothing she could offer to turn the verdict around. She was really guilty. 

But at that moment when she expected death, the amazing thing happened. The God of the universe granted her pardon. One may think that justice was thwarted, but listen to Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” 

He acknowledged the sin. He did not brush it aside. His verdict was guilty but he sentenced her to freedom, new life and forgiveness. This makes sense only when we look at the cross.

Jesus can grant her forgiveness because several chapters later, He took up the woman’s death sentence as his own on the cross. Jesus became her substitute, and the substitute of every sinner-- past, present and future-- on that cross. Thus, by forgiving, Jesus showed God’s love, and by dying, He fulfilled God’s justice. What amazing grace!

The woman’s story is the story of each one of us. We are all sinners condemned to eternal death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). But in God’s grace, He gave us Jesus who took on our punishment and provided a way of salvation to all who trust in Him as Lord and Savior (John 3:16).

The unwed mother did break God’s Law, and the priest pointed this out accurately. In the eyes of the world, she is a sinner, but in God's eyes the mother, the priest and all of us, in fact, are sinners. (Romans 3:23). Thus, when dealing with such cases, we must ask God to help us respond the way Jesus did. We acknowledge her sin but only as fellow sinners. We should not sweep sin under the rug. But we must acknowledge it, remembering that we are also condemned just as she is.

More importantly, if we have a relationship with Jesus, we offer to journey with her to the cross where she can also find the forgiveness that has cleansed our sins the moment we placed our faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God, afterall, is a God not just of second chances, but of third, fourth, fifth, sixth and nth chances.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)."
Next Next


  1. true. priests are so condescending. Diba nga sabi sa bible Jesus came for those who were sick and those were the sinners. Instead of humiliating, why not help the mother to pursue a healthy Christian life?

  2. Thanks, Pao. Reminds me of Jesus's reaction when a woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned to death: He forgave her. "Forgiving" her meant so much more, of course. By letting her live, Jesus had to die in her stead.

  3. That isn't called "humiliation" for what the Priest is doing, The PRIEST is chastising the "mother" Which is severe criticism, or rebuke or strong reprimand: A BIG DIFFERENCE. Actually, any affectionate "FATHER" would scold his "CHILD".