Woman to Woman: "Will God forgive me for this?" PDF Print E-mail

by Terry Schlossberg

The most often-asked question in abortion clinics
A recent email news service from the Re-Imagining community (Sept 4) announced a meeting "focusing on the most often asked question in abortion clinics: 'Will God forgive me for this?'" Until I read the notice, I did not know that this is the most often asked question in abortion clinics. It wipes away all the pretense that most women who have abortions are happy about their decision and have no lingering regrets.

Women have been having abortions in such huge numbers for so many years that, even in a cultural atmosphere that shrouds the event in secrecy, we now are hearing more and more of their testimonies. They tell us that they felt desperate before their abortions and afterward they felt thrust into despair that overwhelmed their initial relief at ending their "problem."

The question women are asking, "Will God forgive me for this?" is strangely out of place in a clinic where the livelihood of the personnel depend on acceptance of abortion as a reproductive right and a "health" issue. Most of these women are living their lives completely apart from the political sphere where the debates over abortion rights are taking place. The women are seeking a solution to a problem that has overtaken their lives and they know that in spite of all the reassurances they receive, God is an ultimate factor in their decisions. Studies show a higher incidence of suicide and attempted suicide among women who have had abortions than among those who give birth, belying the idea that this is just an issue of health.

Women know abortion poses spiritual questions
As the question shows, the women seeking abortions know, in spite of the denials by even its religious supporters, that abortion is a spiritual and moral matter. It is seldom a matter of health by any reasonable definition of "health."

Many of the women who have abortions are church-goers. But the only teaching they ever have had about abortion is in their health classes at school. They have never heard a sermon that applies God's value for human life to the unborn child. So the humanity of the unborn child is a puzzle to them. But when they find themselves pregnant, they know they are "with child." This "most asked question at abortion clinics" shows how deeply they miss the moral instruction and fellowship of accountability from the church that might have helped them avoid the trap they now feel they are in. And they want to know if there is a way back from the decision they have made that led them to the abortionist's table.

Women need a pastoral response
Their help comes from the Lord. It is the church that can, if we are willing, extend the hand of merciful support and tangible help to women when they find themselves in an unwelcomed pregnancy. And it is the church that bears the life-giving redemptive message of the Gospel to us all. Sin is the reason Jesus gave his life for us.

But here--on abortion--the church is failing her members. The greatest moral evil of our time is rarely addressed by our churches--in preaching, in teaching or in pastoral care ministry. If the surveys are correct, it is never addressed by most of our churches. And so, it is not to a pastor that the question of God's forgiveness for abortion is addressed by the women who have them.

We in the church need to hear the cry of the women asking this question. We need to find ways to respond long before the question is posed-for the sake of those women. And for the sake of their babies, who are our human brothers and sisters.

 

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