Did you know that when you’re sitting in church on Sunday, you’re surrounded by women and men who have been touched in some way by abortion? It’s a sobering thought, backed by research.
According to a 2015 Lifeway Research study sponsored by Care Net, a nonprofit organization
supporting more than 1,100 pregnancy centers across North America, researchers gained interesting insights about abortion, women, and the church. Here are some statistics that might surprise you:
Seven in 10 women who have had an abortion identify as a Christian. Specifically among self-identified Christian women who’ve had abortions, 23% say they are evangelical.
More than four in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy. At the time of their first abortion, 36% were attending church once a month or more, including 6% who were attending more than once a week, 20% attending once a week, and 11% attending once or twice a month.
Only 7 percent of women discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church.
Three-fourths (76 percent) say the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
How Should the Church Respond?
In light of this sobering reality, the church remains a beacon of hope, love and forgiveness in
Christ. But what can be done to turn the tide on abortions and offer the loving support that
women need? Based on this CareNet blog by Roland Warren, here are some practical ideas that every church should consider:
Speak truth from the pulpit. The blog author states, “Christian churches have a long track record of helping individuals and communities deal with a host of tough issues. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, sheltering the homeless – these are centuries-old stables of church ministry. More recently, many churches have added parenting and marriage education, and ministries for those dealing with harmful additions, such as drugs and pornography. But none of these issues, despite their deeply personal nature and difficulty in overcoming, have been nearly as politicized as abortion. The result is that too many pastors have withdrawn, and rather than dealing with the polarizing fallout of discussing abortion from the pulpit, they have largely remained silent. As a result, they have let a moral issue become defined as a political issue.”
Offer ministries and/or resources that support the abortion conversation. Many churches have dedicated time and money to building robust ministries to help troubled people at difficult crossroads. But they don’t offer anything specific to those challenged with an abortion decision. The church has an enormous opportunity to create ministries that support pregnant women and the fathers of their unborn children—by promoting realistic, life-affirming alternatives to abortion and showing them that abortion is not the best or only choice. Churches should make themselves a safe place talk about pregnancy options including parenting, abortion and adoption.
Be prepared to give a loving reaction. Demonstrate that the church community is a body of loving, caring individuals that will help pregnant women and the fathers of unborn children choose life and then provide the life supports to help them after their life decisions.
Know how to offer practical support—even if the pregnant woman chooses abortion. Today’s churches should definitely be prepared to provide material, emotional and spiritual support to women who choose to keep a child resulting from an unplanned pregnancy. But churches should also support women who choose abortion. This can include one-on-one prayer, counseling and promotion of the Abortion Recovery Class (available at LivingWell Pregnancy Centers).
If you’ve had an abortion, have you suffered from feelings of guilt or shame? Forgiveness is freely available to you through Jesus Christ, whose sacrificial death on the cross covers all of our sins and makes us right with God. We invite you to find comfort and encouragement by praying the following prayer:
Dear Father, I know I have sinned deeply but your forgiveness surpasses even my worst sin.
I accept your forgiveness, and even though my great sin is an offense to You, I am washed clean from it by the Blood of Christ. And because of Your great pardon, I trust that you will work even this together for my good. Though I weep and mourn from the harm I have caused, even in this deep place you are there and hold my tears in Your bottle. Furthermore, you are the God of all comfort and will not leave me in despair, but give comfort and will use me in the lives of others to comfort them as well. Please guide me in faithfulness to trust you more, knowing you do exceedingly abundantly beyond what I can imagine, and lead me in the way everlasting through greater understanding of Your perfect Word. Amen.
For more information about abortion recovery support services, contact Care Ministries with LivingWell Pregnancy Centers.