Can God Forgive Me for Having an Abortion?

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Can God Forgive Me for Having an Abortion?

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You’ve heard it said, “Everybody makes mistakes.” And while never truer words were spoken, some mistakes we make in life are easier to deal with than others. If you drive a little too fast and get a speeding ticket, you’ll likely have a fine to pay. Not fun, but something you can deal with and move on from in a short amount of time. Dealing with having an abortion, or being a part of one, however, doesn’t leave behind the kind of feelings and emotions that can be dealt with quickly.

In the years after an abortion, the women and men who would have been parents often deal with crippling guilt and grief. Guilt over the decision to abort a life, and grief over the loss of what might have been. These feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide. Help does exist for those dealing with these feelings after an abortion, and we urge anyone who feels they may harm themselves or others to seek professional help.

One of the key factors in dealing with the guilt and grief of an abortion is the concept of forgiveness. While forgiving yourself will perhaps be the first area of forgiveness that comes to mind, there are quite a few other people in your life that you will need to work through forgiveness with as well. Emotions on the topic of abortion run deep and often vary widely by age and culture. If you’ve had an abortion, you might find that while your friends and co-workers understand and are supportive, your parents and grandparents might not be. Then there’s the matter of the man who fathered the baby. How is he coping with his emotions? Has it strained or perhaps ended your relationship? Did he seem okay with it at first, only to become cold and detached later? All of these scenarios will require forgiveness at some level eventually.

Perhaps most important in dealing with the concept of forgiveness is to consider what God says on the matter. Can God forgive you for having or being a part of an abortion? While many would simply answer “Yes! God will forgive you, that is His nature!” and cite such scriptures as Psalm 103:8 or Ephesians 1:7, that answer might seem a little shallow and leave you feeling a bit insecure.  After all, aren’t children considered a blessing? (Psalm 127:3, Mark 10:14). The better question to ask, then, is not if God can forgive you, but how.

Real forgiveness starts with another important concept—repentance. Consider this scenario for a moment: You’re in a grocery store, looking at a variety of foods on the shelf. As you look at the grocery list you’ve made on your cell phone, another customer arrives, clearly in a hurry. They let out a huff of disdain at the fact you are standing where they need to be, then push by you, grabbing their selection and accidentally knocking your cell phone to the ground. Fortunately, it’s not broken, but as you bend down to pick it up, they mumble a half-hearted ‘Sorry’, and they speed away to the next aisle. Not much of an apology is it? By contrast, if they had stopped, helped you pick up things and been genuinely apologetic for their behavior, you’d probably feel considerably different, right?

God feels the same way about our sins. Having regret over having an abortion is one thing. But do you feel truly remorseful for what happened? What are your thoughts on abortion now? Do you simply go on living as you did before and think to yourself, “Well, I hope that doesn’t happen again”? Or does your sorrow go deeper than that? Has it affected who you might date and your views on sex before marriage? In this process of seeking forgiveness from yourself, God and others, have you begun to change how you think?

If you’ve truly changed how you think—and don’t just regret what happened—you are on your way to repentance and forgiveness! Note what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT), “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” Paul says God expects us to change our behavior—our thought patterns—in a way that goes beyond simple sorrow.

In verse 11, Paul goes on to say, “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm…”  Paul points out that when we truly regret our sins, it produces real change in us. Such a change that we can look back at our former selves and honestly say, “I don’t think the way I used to.”

It is only when we are truly repentant that forgiveness can begin to take place. To be repentant is to acknowledge not just a sinful action, but a sinful attitude, and commit to changing it. Once we do that, we can have real forgiveness! 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  In Acts 3:19 we read in the NIV translation, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” What is forgiveness if not refreshing?

Abortion is a terrible tragedy. And quite frankly, it is a sin. But like any other sin, it can be forgiven by our loving Father. This comes through genuine repentance and a renewed will to live a truly refreshed way of life!