I have purposely been avoiding most of the press and debate surrounding the Gosnell trial. It’s too painful to think about, let alone watch on tv or read in print. I don’t want to drum up controversy. I’m just thinking about women I know who have had abortions and wondering how they are processing this. I want to offer hope to women who feel a sense of guilt over their abortion. To those women, I would like to say:
I know this must be painful. Reliving your own past, revisiting the circumstances that led to your abortion, telling yourself again and again that you did the right thing at the time for yourself and for your baby. Trying not to think about it too much for fear of the reality of your actions hitting and breaking your heart. Crying into your pillow at night, thinking about how old your baby would be right now, and the times you have missed caring for your own. Coming to the realization that the better life you hoped would result from not bringing a child into this world, is not that much better. Wondering if the better life would have been one in which you joyfully embraced motherhood and allowed family and friends to help you as you finished school and worked long hours. Imagining what it would have been like to hold your baby, cuddle him to sleep, watch her take those first steps, cheer him on in football, encourage her in academics. It must be painful to consider what actually happened in that abortion clinic—to you and to your baby.
My heart breaks for you. My heart longs for you to be free from guilt.
The great news is that God is willing to forgive you of this particular sin, but He is willing and able to forgive you of all your sin-past, present and future. In reality, there are many other sins for which we would stand before the Lord as guilty. Jesus died so that we would not have to pay the penalty that we deserve for our sins. When we repent, meaning turn away from a life of sin, and trust that Christ’s death satisfies God’s anger over our sins, then the Lord clears us from the debt of death we owe God for our sin, and makes us new and holy people.
If you’re already a Christian but struggle with the weight of guilt over your sin, remember what Christ has already done for you. Live in the freedom that He purchased for you. Remember that though your sins were like scarlet, Christ has made you white as snow. Pray on behalf of others who are considering the path you have walked. Pray that they would run the other way and trust in the Lord to care for them and their baby.
May this be your comfort, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).
You may wonder how you could “prove yourself innocent” when you feel so guilty. Three hundred years ago, a pastor named Matthew Henry offered this clarity and encouragement to you who feel the weight of guilt, and to us who don’t want to hold you in condemnation:
“Not that they were innocent, but that they were penitent, and therefore clear of guilt before God, who would pardon and not punish them; and they ought no longer to be reproved, much less to be reproached, by men, for what they had truly repented of.”
May the Lord give you a heart of repentance, and may He give us a heart to care for you in love.