A Compassionate Christian Response to #ShoutYourAbortion

Social media is full today of the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion in response to the consideration of a federal ban on late term abortions. Those who started the hashtag are encouraging women to share their stories of abortion in an effort to remove the stigma associated with it.

I read some of the tweets, as well as a few articles by women who have had late term abortions, and it seems that they generally fall into 2 categories: those who chose abortion because their baby had serious birth defects and/or brain damage – and those who chose abortion because it was advantageous to them in some way, usually relationally or economically.

I noticed that Christian Today posted an article stating that what was lacking was a compassionate Christian response to those who have had abortions. Instead, the majority of responses from Christians have been angry and accusative, calling those who have had abortions murderers and the like.

I am grieved by this on so many levels:

I’m grieved by the stories of couples who had sick children, many of whom were deemed “incompatible with life” and my heart breaks for them. Particularly the stories from women who have babies that are basically brain dead, but their bodies twitch or seize inside the womb, giving the impression that the baby is well and kicking. My wife being pregnant right now herself, I consider what it would be like to receive such news, that my child would have to be restrained and be so uncomfortable for his/her whole life, that they would not be able to sleep until the point of exhaustion. It is certainly a terrible position to be in.

I am grieved by the stories of women who choose to abort their child for other reasons: because they were scared or thought they were too young or too poor to raise the child the way they would like to. It is these abortions that are most tragic. I had a couple contact me recently; they are poor and pregnant and considering abortion. I recommended they give the child up for adoption. If they are not prepared or willing to raise the child, then at least give him/her a chance to live with one of the scores of couples who would love to raise that child and shower them with love and provision.

I am grieved that Christians are not responding more with the Gospel. Instead the main response is the hashtag #ShoutYourMurder – rather than the promise of forgiveness and restoration for all who have sinned if they turn to Jesus and embrace the Gospel.  I believe in the sanctity of human life, and that we have no right to end a human life, and that an unborn human is absolutely a full-fledged human being. I believe that Planned Parenthood’s selling of body parts for profit is shameful and utterly evil and that government funding of them is completely inappropriate and should end immediately.

I am grieved because I know that people who have chosen to end their own child’s life carry a burden of shame and guilt – the #shoutyourabortion hashtag campaign itself acknowledges that. Having personally known people who chose abortion, my heart goes out to them, because I know that they live with deep pain, sorrow and regret and deep shame and guilt over what they did. Although an abortion provides momentary relief, it is deeply scarring to the body, mind and soul.

To anyone who has had an abortion, for whatever reason, I would say this: the way to cope with your feelings of guilt and shame is not by trying to make yourself feel better about what you’ve done by celebrating it or attempting to justify it. Rather I encourage you to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through whom you can be forgiven, healed and restored. Whatever is in your past, the message of the Gospel is that God loves you and Jesus gave his life for you, so that through him your past can be forgiven and you can have a new life and a new start in Him, in which you can be right with God and free of shame.

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Infertility and the Will of God

I received this question yesterday:

During a sermon you talked about people having it in their hearts to be parents. But then you said if that doesn’t happen God has another plan. In the Old Testament, whenever a woman was barren, it was a bad reflection on that woman. Please comment on why that isn’t the case now. It seems like in old testament it was intended for all women to be giving birth.

I know that there are many godly women who struggle with infertility and wonder about this very question.

It is important to remember that in the time of the Old Testament, the view that barrenness was a curse was generally held by all cultures and societies, and was not unique to the people of God.
In ancient cultures the measure of a woman’s worth and value was often based on how many children she could produce, since having children was essential for livelihood and security.
However, the Bible’s view is that all people have intrinsic value, being created in the image of God – and one’s value is not determined by what or how much they can produce.
The Bible, including the Old Testament, has a more nuanced view of barrenness than that it was always a bad reflection on the woman. The Bible recognizes that even godly women struggle with infertility. If you look at a list of women in the Bible who struggled with infertility, you find that almost all of them were godly women, such as Hannah at the beginning of 1 Samuel. One commonly mentioned exception to this is Michal, who we studied about last Sunday in 2 Samuel 6, but in her case, we do not know exactly what the reason for her barrenness was: Was it because after she mocked and criticized David he refused to share a bed with her any more? Was it because God didn’t allow her to have children because of her disdain for David’s heart for the Lord? Was it for some totally unrelated reason, yet it is mentioned because of it’s poetic justice in the context of that story? We can’t know for sure.
To the point that God’s intention in the Old Testament seems to be that all women would be able to give birth: infertility and miscarriages are listed in Exodus and Deuteronomy in the same category as sicknesses and afflictions which are part of the result of the Fall – and the broken world we live in. That means that infertility and miscarriages are not God’s design, and therefore we should pray for those who want to have children but struggle with infertility just as we pray for the sick.

Furthermore, God created women to be life-givers, and that is not limited only to childbearing.

On a personal note, good friends of mine, great godly people who loved the Lord and served alongside us, were not able to get pregnant for many years. Finally they came and asked us to pray for them; we had not realized they were wanting to get pregnant but couldn’t. So we prayed for them and less than a year later we welcomed their daughter into the world. It was a glorious thing.
Other friends of mine have wanted to have children, have prayed, and yet they were not able to conceive. Does God sometimes say “No” to our requests? Like we see in 2 Samuel 7 – yes, and in those cases we must trust Him, that there is a reason, even if I know it not – much like David, not knowing for years why God told him no. However, we must ask and seek and knock!

I would encourage anyone struggling with fertility issues to ask for prayer.