I recently read an interview with Oprah Winfrey about how, when she was fourteen years old, she became pregnant, and while she did not have an abortion, she was so relieved when the baby died, because she was so terrified of her father, and felt that the baby’s death gave her a ‘second chance’. It broke my heart to read that she had gone through such a painful ordeal as a young girl!
I understand why women would feel compelled to choose an abortion. I remember the shame that was once associated with an underage, ‘out-of-wedlock’ pregnancy. I had a friend who got pregnant in 8th grade, and was sent to ‘Alternative School’. Back then, teenage pregnancy was punished by society, as a whole. We were still a society that believed in ‘sin’, after all, and nobody wanted to see a daily, visible reminder of somebody’s sin!
I also remember thinking that if I ever got pregnant before I was married, I’d rather die than face my father. He was a terrifying unmerciful man, and I’d rather deal with God. Fortunately, that was never a decision I had to make.
I’ve heard the horror stories about back-alley and coat hanger abortions. I cannot begin to imagine the terror those women felt to even consider such dire, life-threatening options!
Today the battle rages furiously between those who think abortion is a “right” and those who believe it is “murder”. Personally, I have always believed that abortion is murder, and I still do. But I believe it is absolutely mandatory for us to put ourselves, as much as possible, inside the minds of the women who would choose to kill their own babies.
With the exception of those women who see abortion as a form of birth control, most of these women are not cold-hearted killers. They are not monsters. They are, however, misguided. Misinformed. They may be threatened or coerced by others who are just as misguided and misinformed. Some of them simply (amazingly) do not realize that their babies are real, are alive, and can feel pain. And many of them feel that if there is any sort of a god, he/she has totally abandoned them, and so why bother with the ‘rules’ of religion.
And finally, because if one is to commit a crime against oneself, they have to rationalize why it’s not only ‘okay’, but a really good idea. They become defiant, and rail against God and all of His people, because we remind them, if only on a dim and primal level, that what they are doing is deeply, horribly wrong. They believe they must move forward with their “choice”, and so must blame anyone who stands in their way.
In the final analysis, they feel a deep loathing for their actions and for themselves. But they don’t recognize that they, themselves, made the choices that brought them to this point, and they misdiagnose the cause of their anguish, and direct it at those who would remind them of it. Us.
So, what to do? We do exactly what Jesus told us to do: LOVE. We do not stand around with signs condemning them to hell. We do not scream angry words at them. They have already condemned themselves enough in their own hearts, whether they are conscious of it or not, and they do not need us to seal their fate by agreeing with them!
We need to remember that we are all sinners, or to put a more secular spin on it, none of us is perfect. We all screw up from time to time. That doesn’t mean that we should give up and not try to get it right next time, but it does mean that we need to remember our own vulnerabilities before we start judging and condemning others. (Jesus said something about logs and planks and eyes. . . )
Seriously, if every time you messed up, someone was there to yell at you that God hates you and you’re going to hell, would you even bother to consider their point of view? I sure wouldn’t! Whether I had originally thought I was right or wrong, I would dig my heels in and take the opposite position.
So, again, while I am firmly convinced that abortion is a sin, I think it is important to try and figure out why someone would want to commit such an atrocity, to try and understand their hearts, before judging them. And I think that, if we do, then we will not feel compelled to judge them, but to love them, just as Jesus commanded. And if we love them, and reach out to them gently, they will hear us, and they will no longer feel the need to be defensive and angry toward us, or our God. They might even fall in love with God, and want to do the right thing, just to make Him happy! Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Like Oprah, many of them believe that abortion gives them a second chance at life, but the truth of the matter is that the only way any of us gets a second chance is through the love of Christ, and it is our responsibility to share it with one and all. Those who stand on street corners, vehemently spewing forth vitriolic diatribes against these women, are, I believe, as responsible for the abortions as the women and the doctors who perform them, because they do not leave any room for a real ‘second chance’ in their condemnation.