Acknowledging the Pain

My friend J.P. sent me the link to this article a couple of days ago, and it set me to thinking.

Here in the United States you hear a lot of discussion and argument about abortion.  Within church culture, the polemic is fairly uniformly (rightly so) against the practice.  It’s easy to slap a bumper sticker on a car.  We can preach against the evils and dangers of abortion from the pulpit and reprint literature to insert into bulletins and tack up in the narthex. 

But how often do we actually acknowledge the pain and loss of those women who have already had abortions, and offer in a very specific, very pointed way the healing and forgiveness that they may hear (or may not hear) more generically in general confession and absolution?  Why doesn’t the church offer opportunities for women (and men) to come and to hear the words of absolution specific to them, to their situation?  To hear Jesus proclaim to them that they are forgiven, and that they don’t have to carry around the pain, the regret, the hurt, the loss any longer?

I want to offer this sort of a service.  I’d love to hear from folks with ideas about what that might look and sound like.  Maybe you can be talking with your congregations and pastors about this idea as well.

5 Responses to “Acknowledging the Pain”

  1. Nancy Campbell Says:

    Attempting to not come across as anything but respectful of your point of view…. Perhaps the first step would be to not discuss abortion from the pulpit or to not post up posters/attach papers into the bulletin. I say this because people who have had an abortion (I imagine) already feel a sense of loss, of pain, of despair, or many other emotions. I’m not sure a sense of shaming/isolation will bring them closer to Christ/a sense of forgiveness. Whenever I speak or hear someone else speak of abortion, I always think, “You just never know what people have experienced. You just don’t know.” Perhaps we should allow Christ to work in these peoples’ hearts. We can acknowledge the pain without being a Pharisee about the whole thing. Quick, not yet fully detailed thoughts, but there you go…

  2. Melani Says:

    hmmm I am shocked first by the article that you linked. I get confused as to what woman would use abortion as birth control…..jeez over 10 times! why don’t they just get their tubes tied? oh well, back to the main discussion. I think the subject of abortion is a touchy subject and I don’t know if women who have had one would feel comfortable hearing about it in church or in the bulletin. I think a different way, some way the pastor could talk privately to the woman or couple would be better and more accepted. I tend to agree with Nancy, but there has to be an easier way to discuss this sort of thing.

  3. Paul Nelson Says:

    I don’t know about the healthcare system in Vietnam, but I’m imagining that elective surgery like having your tubes tied is either not very available or cost prohibitive or both.  However, thanks to some very concerted efforts across the globe, abortions apparently are more readily available or less expensive.  I found this article to be eye-opening.  Forty-one million abortions worldwide.  And that’s a decrease from levels in 1995.   Abortion is talked about all the time, but rarely in the church (other than to denounce it as wrong, which it is).  I find it interesting that we’re so leary about talking about it in church.  I would think (and of course, this is mostly conjecture on my part, but not entirely, based on articles such as the one about the services in Vietnam) that there would be a lot of women who would be grateful to hear abortion spoken about, but rather than as purely law, as law and Gospel.  I think there are a lot of hurting women out there, women who have to deal with the pain of abortion silently, in fear and shame.  I would think that a church servcie that acknowledged this, and was focused on proclaiming forgiveness and healing through Jesus Christ could be very powerful.  And I think part of the powerfulness would be in the shared experience, in realizing that you are not as alone as you feel you are, that there are others who have struggled with this guilt or loss, and that you can be of support to one another.It’s interesting to hear other perspectives though.  I have no doubt that we’ve been pretty conditioned culturally to feel as though abortion is not an appropriate topic for the church in terms of a liturgical or service setting.  I wonder how and why that is?

  4. Dianne Says:

    I’ve thought about this for a day or two. I’m sure there are many women who,for whatever reason,had an abortion and are berating themselves for it. My belief is that they need to know that they are forgiven and I have no problem hearing that from the pulpit. After all, God forgives everyone. My prayer is that those who have had an abortion will find peace with God and themselves.

  5. vetrolet Says:

    I’m afraid of radiation! What should I do?

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