Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:1-3)
There are many reasons why some pastors do not speak about abortion from the pulpit. Some of us are not convinced of the evil of abortion, particularly in its effect upon women. Some of us do not want to drive people away. Some of us see abortion as a political issue, and therefore leave it out of the pulpit.
Two aspects concerning abortion warrant special comment. The first is its scope. Since 1973, more than 50 million children have been killed. The number of people involved in that killing includes mothers, fathers, friends, and parents who have encouraged or enabled abortion, abortionists and clinic workers who have carried it out, as well as many others who did nothing when we could have done something. The exact number is unimportant, but it is vast.
The second aspect of abortion that deserves comment is its depth. Simply put, the sin of abortion is being party to the killing of a child. The effects are deep—particularly for the child and the parents—and irreversible. Many yearn to take back the decision to participate in the killing, but cannot.
The convergence of the scope and the depth of abortion bring us to the precious and hope-filled passage above. The psalmist cries from the depths. Why? Because of his sin. He cries out for mercy and forgiveness, knowing that he could not stand if God were to count his iniquities. But he does cry out. Why? Because he knows that “there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.” In other words, he is able to face his sin precisely because he knows that there is a place to go where he can find mercy and peace. Apart from that knowledge, he would never cry out. Rather than running toward God, he would run from him.
Millions of people in our country, and in our churches, will never come to the Lord until they know that God forgives abortion. For many, it will not be enough to speak of God’s forgiveness in the general and in the abstract. They will need to hear of God’s forgiveness of abortion in particular. And, until they do, they will hold God at arm’s length, and know nothing but guilt, fear, or hardness. In fact, failure to speak about abortion will also cause people to leave our churches, for people will seek help where they can find it. And we will have failed in what is a massive opportunity to make the good news of Christ plain to a hurting world.
A final note. A church where forgiveness is not central may unwittingly contribute to abortion in that many unwed mothers and fathers may never come to find mercy and grace to help in their need if they fear that the church will condemn them for their sexual sin. The church should be the first place people come in crisis, and it is our call to create an atmosphere that invites the weary and heavy laden.