How do we talk about abortion as a sin without hurting women who have had an abortion or who defend it as a personal or political issue?
In the church, we talk about sin all the time. That’s because we are sinful people. We fail to put God first in our lives. We fail to remember the commands of God and do them. We fail to put our trust in God’s Word and use it for making decisions of life. We fail to love our neighbor as ourselves. All of this is sinning against God. Not one of us is innocent. In fact, the whole earth is groaning under the weight of sin. But, the Creator of our lives did not leave us without hope. Jesus left heaven to become the only sacrifice needed by a holy God. Jesus took the punishment for sin that we deserve. Because of Jesus’ death and victory over evil, we don’t have to remain captive to the deception of abortion. We don’t have to carry the burden of abortion… or any other sin.
For the sake of women, we must talk about abortion… with discerning care. Some say, “How could a woman do such a thing!” This statement is not intended to be cruel, but is heard as a judgment. Others, hoping to be less judgmental and more politically correct, say, “I would never have an abortion myself, but I believe every woman should have the right to choose.” This statement may seem compassionate, but to the woman who has had an abortion, it sounds like a comparison: “Abortion is wrong and because I am a good person I wouldn’t do such a terrible thing, but women who are incapable of doing the right thing should have a choice.” Both of these responses are condemning. Neither offer hope before or after an abortion.
There is a third response. It is to speak the truth with the welcoming manner of Christ. It does not matter if we are speaking to a group or visiting with only two or three others. We can explain how the piercing blade of abortion ends the life of a pre-born baby even as it wounds that baby’s mother. The wound may be physical or psychological. It is always spiritual. Mary is the mother of two aborted children. She wrote, “I believed that abortion was the sin too big to be forgiven . . . the reason I am writing you is to thank you. If, years earlier, I had heard the words of compassion and forgiveness that I heard from you today, I would not have had a second abortion. I would have been reconciled to God and turned my life around a lot sooner instead of wallowing in the muck of sin and accusation.”
“Marys” are everywhere. Some are still in denial. Some are angry, resentful or depressed. Others are waiting . . . for a word of hope. To be sure, the Word of Truth presses hard on the source of pain. But, when confessed, forgiveness is real (Psalm 32:3-5). In Jesus, the captive is set free (Galatians 5:1). We must not keep silent at the risk of offense. We must not speak harshly with arms crossed and backs turned. We must not keep Jesus’ promise of hope to ourselves.
Instead, with carefully chosen words, we can welcome the wounded. The wounded are those who are convicted by their “choice,” but also those who still defend that “choice.” We can do this beginning in our own congregations by placing abortion healing brochures in the women’s restroom. (Don’t be surprised by how quickly they disappear.) We can lead a post-abortion Bible study. We can host a Titus 2 Retreat where women in all circumstances and seasons of life contrast the deception of the world with the life-changing Word. We can help men and women see themselves the way God sees them. Identity matters. How we see ourselves and others affects our choices. We are not bound to sexual identity nor lives lived in fear. We do not need to see our children as sacrifices we have to make. Baptized, we are sons and daughters of God in Christ who can “love [even] their [littlest] neighbor as themselves” (Mark 12:31).