COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — As a pastor, father and follower of Christ, I have often found myself with a heavy heart when I think and pray about abortion. I’m saddened. I’m sickened. I’m burdened for the life of preborn children who are precious in the sight of God. And I have a deep conviction that there’s more that I can do for the preborn, their mothers and their fathers.
While pro-choice supporters advocate that abortion is a “women’s rights” issue, we cannot deny the deeply profound implications that abortions have on the male partners. While we continue to fight for the preborn and pray and provide for the mothers, let us not neglect the men who are struggling.
A harsh reality for men
When a man is faced with his partner’s unplanned pregnancy, there is a temptation to abandon her and think, This isn’t not my problem. And if he is advocating for an abortion, he often provides the same reasons women do: income, marital status, reputation or loss of future plans.
Yet, some men would choose to stay when their unwed partners become pregnant. They want to make things right. They want to fight for the baby. They can experience a deep sense of helplessness if their partner doesn’t choose life.
In most states, there are few to no laws that advocate for fathers to have a legal voice with regard to their partner’s abortion. A man can become frustrated if he has no say and often experiences grief if his partner has an elective abortion. The result is a loss of trust in the relationship as well as sadness that he could not change the situation. Most romantic relationships do not persevere through having an elective abortion; research shows that only 37 percent of couples are still together two years after an abortion.
What the church can do
A few months ago, I sat down at my computer in my office and began asking the Lord to guide me to go beyond giving money for the care of preborn children and their mothers. I want to be an active participant. After exploring opportunities in my local area for serving at a pro-life and counseling center, I was discouraged by the reality that while there are a plethora of opportunities for serving children and mothers, there are none in my area for the fathers. I found myself asking who is helping the men.
As I reflect on how men are affected by abortions, I realize there is more the church can do to help. There’s more that I can do. Specifically, here are a few things your church can do to help men who have suffered loss from an abortion.
- Seek out training for your church leaders in grief and premarital counseling regarding sex, pregnancy and abortion.
- When possible, include men in pre/post-abortion counseling.
- Understand that a man’s involvement during the pregnancy greatly enhances a woman’s (and consequently the baby’s) health.
- Communicate the reality of the grief and pain associated with an abortion for both the woman and the man before it is performed.
- Whenever you preach or teach against abortion, preach the gospel, and point out the forgiveness and hope that is found in Christ.
- Preach that biblical manhood is displayed when a man supports his partner, fights for the life of the baby, and does not abandon his responsibility to them.
- Implement discipleship opportunities for men to disciple men, and create an atmosphere of openness so suffering men can share and be ministered to.
- Teach how the Bible provides us with a salvific message and a clear framework for understanding sex, intimacy, leadership and stability in relationships.
Yes, there are clear physical and mental consequences for sin, yet the gospel of Jesus Christ provides the grace and forgiveness we desperately need. He doesn’t wait for us to have our lives in order before He saves (Romans 5:8). If He did that, no one would be saved. The gospel tells us that He died for us when we were at our very worst.
Many men realize that in moments of deepest grief (like grief over supporting his partner’s abortion), conviction and regret, Jesus offers forgiveness of sins when they repent and believe in Him. Studies show that many men reference God and the importance of faith in Him as a way of staying strong during an abortion crisis.
The gospel meets both the mother and the father involved in an unplanned pregnancy. As ambassadors of Christ, may the church serve and care for both mothers and fathers as we advocate for the preborn.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Justin Mullins is the Young Families pastor at Collierville First Baptist Church in the Memphis area and serves as an adjunct professor of Christian education at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.)