I recently read some statistics from Lifeway Research revealing that mothers in significant numbers were regularly attending church services during the time they chose to have an abortion.
A total of 43% were attending at least monthly, 20% were attending weekly, and 6% were attending services several times a week.
How can this be? What does this tell us about our churches? Doesn’t a church-going woman know it’s wrong to have an abortion?
When surveyed women were asked what reaction was either received or expected to be received from a local church as she considered her decision, 33% said “judgmental,” and 26% said “condemning.”
The survey sample consisted of over 1,000 post-abortive women. We don’t know when the abortions took place, so to attach the perceptions or realities experienced in the past to the church today would be unfair.
In my observation, the church is doing a better job than it did in years past with addressing the issue of crisis pregnancy, as well as the truth about abortion and post-abortion trauma – a heavy and varied mass to balance! Still, we can learn from the results of this survey. And, by God’s grace, we can do more. We can do better.
The bottom line, according to Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, appears to be the church’s deficiency in creating an environment where a mother believes she will be helped through her crisis.
Typically, it is sex outside of marriage that leads to crisis pregnancy situations. We know this. The need to proactively address sexual integrity issues within the home and church is, without question, underestimated. Our culture feeds us images and ideologies that work non-stop to undermine God’s sacred intentions for the marriage bed.
“Proactively” is the operative word. If we try to teach or correct a woman after she has become distraught by an unexpected pregnancy, our reaction is likely to be perceived as judgmental or condemning. That’s just the way it is.
A sweet, 17-year-old girl who attended my home church became pregnant. Her father was a well-known and respected professional in the community and a leader in the church. I’ll never forget what the young lady’s mother told me when I asked about their response upon learning of their daughter’s predicament.
She described the encounter. They sat quietly as Sarah (not her real name) struggled to expose her sin, and the current, pressing reality of its consequences.
I can imagine her turmoil. Can you?
She awaited their response as she fidgeted with the cording on the arm of the sofa, unable to look into their faces.
Finally, it was done. Her news was out. What would Daddy say? What would he do?
“Sarah,” he said calmly. “There are three things I want to tell you.”
I can only imagine what must have been going through her mind at that point. What were the three things?
She raised her head. He continued, “Number one, I love you. Number two, I love you. Number three, I love you.”
An embrace followed.
Now, that’s enough to make any girl’s heart melt. This daddy could have thought about himself and his reputation, quickly devising a cover-up plan or corrective action. But he didn’t. Instead, the family took it one day at a time … together … and they got through it. Beautifully.
What if we all responded in like manner?