Please Note: In order to conserve space, footnotes are not included in this article but are marked with an asterisk and may be found in Why ProLife? by Randy Alcorn, Chapter 18, pages 102-107.
Millions of women and men, both in society and in the church, are suffering under the guilt of abortion. Nearly one out of five women getting an abortion identifies herself as an evangelical Christian.* This means a quarter of a million abortions are performed on Christians each year. Many of the fathers of these children are also part of our churches.
If you’re a woman who’s had an abortion, or advised another to have one, this chapter is for you. If you’re a man who’s been involved in an abortion decision—whether it concerned your girlfriend, wife, daughter, or anyone it’s also for you.
It’s counterproductive to try to eliminate guilt feelings without dealing with guilt’s cause. Others may say, “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” but you know better. Only by denying reality can you avoid guilt feelings. Denial sets you up for emotional collapse whenever something reminds you of the child you once carried. You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not pretense.
Because the Bible offers that solution, I will quote from it. Ask your pastor, women’s group leader, or a Christian friend or family member, to help you understand.
The Work of Christ
The good news is that God loves you and desires to forgive you for your abortion, whether or not you knew what you were doing. But before the good news can be appreciated, we must know the bad news. The bad news is there’s true moral guilt, and all of us are guilty of many moral offenses against God, of which abortion is only one. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Sin is falling short of God’s holy standards. It separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin deceives us, making us think that wrong is right and right is wrong (Proverbs 14:12). “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, loved us so much that He became a member of the human race to deliver us from our sin problem (John 3:16). He identified with us in our weakness, without being tainted by our sin (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16). Jesus died on the cross as the only one worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by God’s holiness (2 Corinthians 5:21). He rose from the grave, defeating sin and conquering death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 54-57).
When Christ died on the cross for us, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word translated “it is finished” was written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It meant “paid in full.” Christ died to fully pay our debt.
Because of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf, God freely offers us forgiveness. Here are just a few of those offers:
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities....
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him (Psalm 103:10-14).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
A Gift that Can’t be Earned
Salvation is a gift—”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This gift cannot be worked for, earned, or achieved. It’s not dependent on our merit or effort, but solely on Christ’s sacrifice for us.
God offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, but it’s not automatically ours. In order to have the gift, we must choose to accept it.
You may think, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.” That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. That’s the point of grace. Christ got what we deserved on the cross, so we could get what we don’t deserve-a clean slate, a fresh start.
Once forgiven, we can look forward to spending eternity with Christ and our spiritual family (John 14:1-3; Revelation 20:11-22:6). You can look forward to being reunited in heaven with your loved ones covered by Christ’s blood, including the child you lost through abortion (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
No Need to Dwell on Past Sins
A promiscuous woman wept at Christ’s feet, kissed them, and wiped them with her hair. Jesus said to a judgmental bystander, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). Jesus offers the same forgiveness to all of us.
God doesn’t want you to go through life punishing yourself for your abortion or for any other wrong you have done. Your part is to accept Christ’s atonement, not to repeat it. Jesus said to an immoral woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:47-50). Women rejected by society came to Jesus, and He welcomed them with compassion and forgiveness.
No matter what you’ve done, no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. There are no limits to his forgiving grace. And there is no freedom like the freedom of forgiveness.
You may feel immediately cleansed when you confess your sins, or you may need help working through it. Either way, you’re forgiven. You should try to forget what lies behind and move on to a positive future made possible by Christ (Philippians 3:13-14). Whenever we start feeling unforgiven, it’s time to go back to the Bible and remind ourselves, and each other, of God’s forgiveness.
Joining a group for post-abortion healing can help you immensely. There are post-abortion Bible studies designed for women, and others for men. Many online resources can help you find the support group you need.*
Forgiveness Followed by Right Choices
Many women who’ve had abortions carry understandable bitterness toward men who used and abused them, toward parents who pressured them, and toward those who misled them into a choice that resulted in their child’s death. God expects us to take the forgiveness He’s given us and extend it to others (Matthew 6:14-15).
You need to become part of a therapeutic community, a family of Christians called a church. (If you’re already in a church, share your abortion experience with someone to get the specific help you need.) You may feel self-conscious around Christians because of your past. You shouldn’t. A true Christ-centered church isn’t a showcase for saints but a hospital for sinners. You won’t be judged and condemned for sins Christ has forgiven. The people you’re joining are just as human and just as imperfect as you. Most church people aren’t self-righteous. Those who are should be pitied because they don’t understand God’s grace.
A good church will teach the truths of the Bible, and will provide love, acceptance, and support for you. If you cannot find such a church in your area, contact our organization and we’ll gladly help you.
A healthy step you can take is to reach out to women experiencing unwelcome pregnancies. God can eventually use your experience to equip you to help others and to share with them God’s love. My wife and I have a number of good friends who’ve had abortions. Through their caring prolife efforts they’ve given to other women the help they wish someone had given them. Telling their stories has not only saved children’s lives, and mothers from the pain of abortion, but has helped bring healing to them. It can do the same for you.
For more information on this subject, see Randy Alcorn’s book Why ProLife?
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.