Recently, The Blaze recounted a story of a young woman who had recently received an abortion and subsequently hanged herself, both out of guilt and other factors such as mental illness. A chilling and devastating tale such as this, however, is not necessarily isolated, and how we embrace post-abortive or potentially abortive women reveals the true intentions motivating our posturing toward the abortion debate.
Tragedies such as these remind us of the ghoulish specter that can haunt women: the decision to receive an abortion. For a number of reasons, it is vital to embrace women who have received abortions or women who are in a position to receive an abortion with care, love, and gentleness, for if we do not, we place the perceived superiority of our political preferences above our alleged pro-life position, which is often, though certainly not exclusively, informed by a Christian worldview. To do so indicates hubris or selfish pride rather than a legitimate concern for the sanctity of each human life, including the mother.
When I hear about women who have received abortions and are struck by guilt, I am reminded of a story in Scripture from the Book of John’s eighth chapter. When a woman who had been caught practicing adultery, a crime punishable by stoning in ancient Israeli society, was brought before Jesus, the Pharisees inquired Christ as to what her punishment ought to entail.
“The world already lost a child; let it not also lose a mother because of our lack of love.”
Instead of punishing the woman, however, Jesus first asked whether any of those preparing for the stoning were themselves without sin or malfeasance. When none answered in the affirmative, they slowly began to abandon the execution, their chagrin inspired by a degree of hypocrisy and self-elevation. Jesus approached the woman and asked if anyone had condemned her, and after she answered no, Jesus assured her that neither did He condemn her, and as a result he urged her to “go and sin no more.”
It is with this attitude that we ought to surround women who have received an abortion: not one of condemnation, but one of love and reform. Indeed, abortion is a gruesome and cruel practice, but no human, and especially no Christian, should believe that they are any less wretched or sinful than another. Instead of casting stones at post- or pre-abortive women, condemning their character and worthiness to death, we must approach them with love and gentle rebukes.
One life has already been lost; let us not allow pride and politics to foster an environment wherein further lives and characters perish. The world already lost a child; let it not also lose a mother because of our lack of love.
“But we cannot counter or neutralize sin unless we emulate He who was without it.”
For these reasons, it is also important never to drive unwed pregnant women into shame; again, who among us is without sin? Indeed, our treatment of women whose intercourse we know to be sinful must be characterized by love, compassion, and gentle rebukes, for if it is not, we risk fostering an aura of utter alienation, painting the miraculous child as nothing more than the result of sin.
Certainly, he or she is worth much more, but absent the right posturing toward unwed pregnant women, he or she may perish as a result of the social stigma he or she is perceived to entail for the mother. Is a human life worth the attempt to elevate one’s perceived self-righteousness?
The answer ought to be an irrevocable no. By humbling ourselves, we can begin to understand the iniquities of others, and we can, therefore, help them to rectify their paths, to seek forgiveness, and to reform their ways and spread the same gentleness to others.
It is clear that abortion is a practice that must be removed from society, for a civilized culture does not discard its most innocent members for the sake of their supposed inconvenience. But we cannot counter or neutralize sin unless we emulate He who was without it, and that requires of us a great deal of love and patience, all the while persistently expecting reform and contrition.