What do you say to a mother who initially chose life but then veers back to abortion? What if she asks you, “Will God still love me if I have the abortion?“
This is not just an academic question or a hypothetical. This happened to me this week and it is not the first time. I wrestle to answer this question because I know it can be used to validate their choice for abortion in their mind; however, I don’t want to remove hope of redemption from them if, in their weakness, they do have the abortion. I know God loved ME while I was yet lost in my sin. How does one deal with this dilemma?
As I actually lived through this exact situation this week, I formulated many strategies to dealing with this issue. I have listed them below as a guideline that might help others.
The art of counseling
Being a sidewalk missionary involves the ability to counsel effectively. Some of it can be learned, but some of it is following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It also is an “art” of learning to listen carefully, asking a lot of questions, reflecting and reframing the responses so the person knows they are heard, and relying on biblical guidance for all advice!
The power of the Holy Spirit
Always be prepared with the core issues: what God says about the baby, the humanity/development of the baby and resources. It is necessary to know what happens in an abortion and to be able to describe it. Beyond that, trust that the Holy Spirit can and will guide you in tough situations and difficult questions like this.
The necessity of relationship
You may or may not have much time to develop a relationship; but in whatever time you have, show that you are trustworthy. Stay connected with texts, phone calls, sending Bible verses and emails. If you have a good relationship and the mom trusts you, she is more willing to hear hard truths.
Remember where power to convict comes from
Never forget that no matter how well you counsel, YOU do not have the power to convict someone’s spirit. GOD does that. You can convince someone with skillful communication, but if you can convince someone, someone else may un-convince them. True heart change comes only through heavenly conviction.
When to introduce hard truth
This is tricky. It goes back to the “art” of counseling, but also discerning the optimal timing. If you introduce hard truth before a relationship or beginning trust is established, it often shuts down communication. If you don’t introduce it at all, you risk being too soft and helping the decision to abort feel easier to them. For sure, when I feel all is lost, I open the flood gates of hard truth. Sometimes when you have nothing else left to say, it is time to be brutally honest. Always, of course, speak those hard truths in love.
Below is a screen shot of an actual “hard truth” segment of a discussion with a teen. She had chosen life and I had been counseling her for many weeks. She had also submitted her life to Jesus. Then suddenly, she cancelled her ultrasound and told me she was going to abort. She asked me, “Will God still love me if I abort?” I knew she trusted me and we had a good relationship. I also knew she was now set on abortion. She was rationalizing why abortion was the right choice. I felt I had to begin speaking more forcefully.
How hard-hitting should you be depends on what the woman is saying
In the case of the mom above, she was talking only abortion. Every argument were ones we had already addressed for weeks. Tangible help for every single issue had been offered. She was determined, clearly deceived, and closing her eyes to truth. Hearing her circular, irrational reasoning made it clear to me it was time to hit with the heavy artillery.
When to introduce mercy and forgiveness
Be very careful with the forgiveness message. It is not unusual for moms to use this as a rationale to abort. I would not talk about it unless it is to talk about how repentance is critical and repentance means turning from the sin, not just saying I am sorry. When I sidestepped her first question, she asked if God would forgive her? She asked if I would still love her? I didn’t know how to answer so I deflected. (More on how I ultimately answered later…)
When to give up and give God time to convict
There are times when the best response is silence. In the case of this teen, I was so upset that I knew I might say things I would regret and I did not seem to be getting through to her anyway. I knew it was time to go to bed and just pray. God doesn’t need me. It is a privilege that He uses me, but He can…and will…do what needs doing when we are out of steam. The next morning, I was recharged and entered back into the fray. God had been working on her all night!
When to call in the team
The team is critical in addressing varying concerns. The sooner you can call in helpful experts, the more you can build a case in defense of the child. Also, it helps you to know you are not alone. Those new eyes seeing the situation from different angles are crucial. I had called in at least ten other team members over the course of weeks counseling this teen. They would take over when I was worn out, or out of my area of expertise. Fortunately, we have a GREAT team and network we can call upon. It is so important to develop such a team in your area!
Practical things to say when the woman asks “Will God still love me if …”
This is a trick question and there is no way to answer it that doesn’t backfire that I know of. My response is always, “That is not the question you should be asking. The question you should be asking is should a mother ever kill her own child? Is it right? Is it good? What does the Bible tell us?”
Cop-out? Maybe. In this case, I really could not resolve how to answer it without her making a choice to kill her baby.
I do wrestle with the tension that if the woman does abort and never gives me another chance to speak with her, will she believe she has committed the unpardonable sin? Will she drown in her grief and despair when I could have given her the assurance that God will love her if she repents and turns back to Him?
I don’t know the answer to this.
I know that if I answer yes, she will see it as a green light to abort. Why else would she be asking the question? If her question is truly reflective of a desire that she please God, then directing her in actions and thoughts that please God is a proper answer. That is the tactic I took early on in the discussion with her.
I may be wrong, but this is the approach I take most often. In the end, I was sure she would abort. During one of the REALLY hard conversations, she suddenly was caught in her on illogic trap. She suddenly saw the truth. Her question then clearly reflected the change in her perception. I then asked, “What will you choose?”
“I will not abort,” she said. (As I write this, I know she may yet change her mind … but I pray this story has a happy ending.)