It was “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” at this church. I was a guest speaker for the morning worship. The pastor invited me to come and preach on the very controversial subject of abortion. The message I gave addressed not only the wanton destruction of human life, but also addressed any woman who might be considering an abortion, as well as any woman who may have already had one.
Afterward, a woman came up to me and said with an expression of tremendous gratitude how glad she was my message spoke to women who had had an abortion. She never divulged whether she ever had an abortion or not, and I didn’t ask. But she said to me with great emotion: "Thank you for telling women that God will forgive them for their abortion. Sometimes I think we give them the impression they are automatically damned to hell. They need to hear that Christ will forgive them of anything."
Another lady who overheard our conversation then chimed in and interjected, “Yes, but some women say they have no regrets and are happy they had an abortion.” To which the first woman replied, “You know, I think most of them are just projecting. The guilt can be profound.”
That short conversation impacted me like never before. Women who suffer the emotional pain of having destroyed the life in their womb need to hear there is healing and reconciliation.
Too often, the blood-guiltiness of the willful destruction of human life in abortion is vilified (and rightly so), but without emphasizing God’s offer to be cleansed and forgiven. Abortion has two victims — the child and the mother.
According to Live Action, in June of 2020, a poll on the abortion pill demonstrated 77% of women regretted their abortions. The study found:
- 83% of the women said they were changed by their abortions, with 77% saying the change was negative.
- 77% said they regretted their abortions.
- 60% reported feelings of isolation and alienation.
- 38% reported problems with anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and/or suicidal thoughts as a result of the abortion.
- 50% said the baby’s father or other family members “used negating language as a means to justify a woman’s need for an abortion.”
A few years ago, I was trying to recruit a woman to run for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly. I knew her background well and thought she would make a sensational candidate. While we talked, she suddenly and unexpectedly burst into tears. The grief in her voice was severe and distressing. She said: “Perhaps I should run for office. Because of what I did, I need to give back something of what I took away.” She had had an abortion when she was younger and still bearing the anguish many years after.
In a small and powerful 59-page book titled, Spiritual Reflections of a Pro-Life Pilgrim, Michael T. Mannion explains how critical it is for the pulpit to speak to this aspect of the abortion issue. Please forgive the long quote by Mannion, but it’s worth it. He most eloquently writes:
"[M]any women who have had abortions…are presently suffering in a painful, lonely and silent world of guilt…looking for a way out. Each Sunday, they might listen intently for one word – one phrase – one motion of compassion that tells them that their church or congregation is open to help heal the pain – that there is a way back. These women need to hear the words of Jeremiah being personally spoken to them:
"‘There is hope for your future, says the Lord’…. (Jer. 31:17)"
"The guilt and loneliness felt by a woman who has had an abortion are more often than not accompanied by a sense of worthlessness, inadequacy, and inability to help others, let alone herself. These feelings present a unique faith opportunity to the person in the pulpit. As we begin our homily or sermon, we can seek a spiritual and emotional affiliation with that woman in the pew. We can ask her to pray for us as we speak, that our words might help heal and console her, that our words might help prevent some of her sisters in distress from making the same tragic mistake. We can speak out with honesty and compassion, without betraying either [the mother or the unborn child], and show there is hope for the future – for the woman who has had an abortion, for the woman facing the decision."
"We can speak of our church’s desire to be an instrument of the Lord’s healing by welcoming her back to wholeness and reconciliation and of the need for her prayers for women facing the decision she once faced. We must speak out. The harvest of pain and the destruction of life will be too great if we don’t."
"We can tell her that we all, in one way or another, abort God’s will in our lives, perhaps not as dramatically as in a physical abortion but certainly spiritually through selfishness, greed, anger, pride, and resentment. For all these ‘spiritual abortions,’ we all must seek forgiveness, for they have helped to create a world where the physical abortion is common and promoted."
Yes, let us speak boldly from the pulpit against abortion, let the laity courageously speak out too. Abortion is a cruel practice in our culture, and it must be stopped. But let us also say with equal tenderness there is room at the Cross for anyone – no matter how egregious the sin. “If we confess our sins, he [Christ] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
It’s a message from the pulpit many women desperately need to hear.
Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.