November 30, 2011

The couple sat in church listening to the Life Sunday sermon as they had many times before, trying to block out the thoughts of condemnation that had been occurring ever since the abortion—20 years ago. Guilt ridden, unsure of God’s forgiveness, they sat in the pew trying not to squirm or look uncomfortable. They knew that Christ had died for everyone’s sins, but, it seemed to them, their sin was so terrible, so horrific, that no one even talked about it. Then, suddenly, the preacher’s words pierced through the veil covering their hearts:

“And for those of you that have an abortion in your past, welcome. It is not the sin of abortion that separates us from God, but sin. The church is for you. Welcome from a fellow sinner in need of God’s forgiveness.” 

That day changed their lives. For the first time they heard the words of forgiveness and acceptance applied to them and they felt the heavy blanket of guilt lift from their shoulders!

I wonder, if you can’t hear the message of forgiveness at church, where will you hear it?

The young preschool teacher stopped at the Lutherans For Life booth. She told me she had come to talk to someone from our ministry. Then she started to cry. She told me her abortion story, shared the enormous feelings of regret and guilt. She said no one warned her, not her sister, not her church. If only one person had told her not to have an abortion, she wouldn’t have done it. 

If you don’t tell them, how will they know? 

The sad truth is that when the Church fails to address the abortion issue, it fails to warn our women and men of the horrific consequences of an abortion choice and it fails to reach out with compassion and healing to the many men and women sitting in our pews who made that choice in the past. (Sixty-three percent of women who choose abortion claim a Christian affiliation.)

Yet many pastors don’t speak up For Life. Some are intimidated by vocal parishioners who believe that the life message does not belong in the Church. Others believe that they are actually helping post abortive women by not speaking about the life issue. But I believe that many just don’t know how to do it. Here’s how you can help: 

  • Encourage your pastor to preach and teach on this issue with both compassion and truth. Begin with the Gospel, offer forgiveness. Many people’s minds shut down when the object of the sermon is to rail against abortion. And worse, people in need of forgiveness for that specific sin, won’t hear it. 

  • Equip and encourage your youth to respect God’s gift of life, to make good decisions, and to know how to help others facing a crisis pregnancy.

  • Stock your women’s bathroom and tract racks with brochures (available through CPH) on post-abortion trauma and unplanned pregnancy help.  

  • Become known within your congregation as the person who listens and cares—not just someone who talks about abortion. Be non-judgmental in your approach and offer unconditional love. Be careful and sensitive with your language.

  • Connect with your local pregnancy center and encourage someone to come in to talk about the real-life situations that women face when in a crisis pregnancy. Hopefully your young people will get the message that your congregation is an accepting place. 

  • Talk about the consequences of abortion on our culture and how it has affected the care of the elderly and handicapped, even embryos. The abortion issue does not stand alone. The prevailing cultural ethic no longer values the uniqueness of human life, let alone sees it as created by God. What has been the effect of this changing ethic on law, government, medicine, etc. (LFL has many resources to help!)

We live in a world of hurting people who are desperate to hear the truth and to feel God’s love through the compassionate acts of Christians. When we are faithful to our calling, people will learn through the work of the Holy Spirit that the best choice in any life crisis is to know what God says in His Word and then make a decision that is God pleasing. Christians need to trust God and choose life. But if we don’t talk about it, how will they know?

“And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14)