Monday, February 13, 2017

What can be done with guilt and shame? .......... Parables 549

March 10, 1997

Certain pro-choice advocates claim that women who have had an abortion suffer less trauma than those with an unwanted child. This argument supposedly comforts anyone who struggles with the emotional aftermath of the choice they made to terminate their pregnancy.

It seems to me that comparing the degree of trauma people experience depends more on individual personality and maturity than it does on the differences in their experiences. However, actions that people take after a trauma can indicate the measure of hardship they personally felt.

Statistics provide information in this area. For instance, one country reports women who undergo abortion have a suicide rate three times higher than normal and six times greater than the amount of suicides associated with childbirth. According to those statistics, trauma after an abortion seems very high.

Those who experience this say their feelings include guilt, a sense of shame and even grief over the loss of their child. It is important to remember that feelings like this are not restricted to women who have had abortions. Mothers who cannot take care of their children also feel a certain sense of guilt and shame. All parents in the process of raising children struggle with difficulties and sometimes feel guilty about their performance.

Guilt, shame, grief, sorrow and pain are part of the human experience, as are poor choices. Even if we could perfectly choose our experiences, sorrow and pain would not be avoided. Next best to avoiding negative situations is learning how to deal with them and the consequences. In the case of emotions like guilt, shame and loss, they can be overcome but not by denying the degree to which they are felt.

It is normal to feel terrible when we violate our own standards, never mind God’s laws. Denial of those feelings prevents us from discovering guilt’s remedy. Acts 13:38 says, “Therefore, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

Like guilt, shame is also a natural emotional response to behavior that violates our conscience. We feel embarrassed and humiliated before other people and before God. Again, to deny its reality or its severity also prevents us from finding God’s remedy. The Bible says, “Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame” that we might know the freedom of sins forgiven.

It also says that “anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Forgiveness not only clears our hearts of guilt but wipes away shame’s pain and protects us from any further threats of shame.

In one sense, loss has no cure. A dead child cannot be restored to life, nor will having more children fill the emptiness or assuage the grief. This is one horror of abortion. It is so final. However, God also has an answer for grief and even a reason. Jeremiah wrote: “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”

We experience grief because we are designed by God to feel loss and the consequences of our destructive choices. However, He intends that those feelings draw us closer to Him. He knows He is the only one who can give us comfort and peace.

Abortion critics need to recognize that guilt, shame and grief can bring a woman into such deep despair that she may commit suicide. After-the-fact judgment is not going to help her. It may even push her deeper into that pit.

Instead, women, or anyone in despair, needs God’s protection from the dark powers of suicidal depression and the good news of His love, forgiveness, comfort and hope.

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