Restoring Fatherhood Lost
by Warren Williams
Fathers become involved in an abortion in one of five ways: (1) they encourage or support the woman to choose abortion; (2) they pressure her to abort; (3) they abandon her to make the decision alone: (4) they unsuccessfully oppose the abortion; or (5) they learn about the abortion only after it has been done.
No matter how they were involved, most men will try to “stuff it away.” They are embarrassed and ashamed. They seldom want to talk about it, even if they are experiencing a great sense of loss and pain.
Most men are very reluctant to enter a process of healing. If they do share their loss with others, many will only partially reveal their pain. When they do this, they have an immediate release of all that pent-up hurt, and they feel better. Sometimes they mistake this for the end of their healing process, when it is really just the beginning. I tell this to men before we meet, so they will not think just one meeting and a “quick fix” conversation will be a cure-all for them
Abortion Undermines our Human Design
God has made us in His image. Our main mission in life is to find fellowship with God, acknowledge and feel his blessing on our lives, and to worship Him. (Is. 43:21) God has placed a kind of homing device within us. (Heb. 8:10). He did this when He created and blessed us (male & female) and instructed us in our life dimensions.
God created within each of us certain fundamental needs and desires. It is useful to number look at these the seven P’s. Chief among these are the desire to Praise God and to Preserve our heritage (our seed). These destinies are pursued through Procreation (whereby we cooperate with God in bringing forth new life) and by Parenting (whereby we pass on our faith, wisdom, and values to our children). Integral to our role as procreators and parents is the built-in desire to Protect and Provide for our offspring, which in turn depends on our ability to Perform well in our daily duties. Our happiness in life will largely be measured by our ability satisfy these God given desires. When these needs are attacked or frustrated the integrity — or wholeness — of our personhood becomes disordered.
Abortion is a major frontal assault on all these dimensions of our God-given design. Needless to say, when a child is lost to abortion, the parents and grandparents have failed to preserve their heritage. While they may have subsequent children, a line of their heritage is irretrievably lost. In becoming pregnant, they experienced God’s gift of procreation but in a rejection of God’s gift, their child died an unnatural death. Abortion signifies one’s failure to protect and provide for one’s child. These failures may in turn undermine one’s confidence making it difficult to perform in one’s daily duties. Each and all of these failings can become obstacles in praising God either because one has set his or herself up against God or because he or she feels unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness.
Abortion deeply wounds the nature and spirit of both men and women. This wound threatens trust for one another — and for God and His love. Just as Adam and Eve were hiding from God in fear of His retribution, so men and women hide in fear for the mistake of an abortion. “Anyone who participates in the death of another shall forever be a fugitive” (Prov. 28:17)
In the years since 1978 I have met with some 75 men in counseling situations dealing with their pain over a past abortion. They have given me many insights into the profuse pains and disruptions of life which abortion wreaks on families. With the permission of these men who have done their grief work and settled up with God, I offer the following vignettes. Each account reflects a sample of the kind of problems millions of men face after losing an aborted son or daughter. Each vignette includes both intake statements before the bible study began and an exit statement. Many of the men described in these vignettes have healed. Others are still in the process of fully restoring their spiritual health.
While both women and men face may hesitate to seek help in post-abortion recovery, it is my experience that this may especially hard for men. Men may feel more obligated to mask or hide their pain or to “tough it out” alone.
As you read these brief “snapshots” of the disruption abortion caused in these lives, look for the ways in which the abortion has undermined the ability of these men to praise, preserve, procreate, parent, protect, provide and perform.
Fear of ChurchBefore: The last thing I wanted to do was go to church. I couldn’t just show up and smile like nothing had happened. What I did when I helped her get the abortion . . . well, I was just as guilty of killing my child as she was. I couldn’t face those other people with that on my chest, so that’s why I quit going to church. Besides, even if I went and go things right, who would ever really deep down forgive me? I mean I probably wouldn’t have even found anyone to talk to about it.
After: It was better for everyone that I left, that’s truly how I looked at it, before I got into this Bible study and started healing up. Now I can go back to church and feel better. I don’t have to hang my head now.
Love Relationship AffectedBefore: I was relieved after the abortion was over, but it was kind of eerie. When Beth and I drove home we didn’t talk about it. We were kind of distant from each other in a real strange kind of way. We both knew something had changed but we weren’t sure exactly what. I mean we knew about the baby being gone and all, but there was something else. Still its not something you just talk about, you know. Later our relationship just kept deteriorating and we finally just broke-up. We just got to the place where we just fought all the time, and we didn’t have that trust you need to keep going, you know.
After: After going through this group, I know now it was the abortion that did it, but if you’d asked me at the time I would’ve denied it. Denial is so strong. I can’t believe I just lived with the pain all those years.
Fathering QuestionsBefore: Sometimes when I get close to Jimmy (my three year old son), I become saddened by the memory of my aborted child. He would have been Jimmy’s stepbrother. He would be five now. I try to shake these feelings, but they won’t go away. Its like he knows something’s going on. He just looks at me sometimes and says “What’s wrong daddy?” I wish I knew myself. I wonder if I’ll ever get over this.
After: I found in this Bible study a group of men who were going through the same thing. It was like having “high church” when we prayed together. God has healed me. No more fears! Jimmy and I have a wonderful father/son relationship and I will tell him of his stepbrother when the time is right. He’s one of my children too. I just won’t see him ’til heaven.
Domestic ViolenceBefore: (Wife’s comments.) I left him, because I couldn’t take the beatings anymore. He never forgave me for the abortion. He would get so angry, then just start — breaking things — and then hitting me. Then he would leave for hours or sometimes days. Sometimes I’d try to talk it out. He would never admit it was the abortion. But I know it was, cause he wasn’t like this before. I know I really hurt him when I left, but I just couldn’t take it no more.
After: God has worked a miracle. Roger is a changed man. I don’t know all that those guys did and prayed about in that group, but it gave me my husband back and we are working through our problems!
Hollow RelationshipsAfter: I was in medical school. Having a child would have been awkward, at the least, and we were not married, so it would have been evidence of an embarrassing failure to my family. I didn’t know having the abortion would change the rest of my life, and my wife’s as well. After our wedding we spent years just going through the motions of marriage. Our hollow relationship and the consuming loss was overwhelming. Now, God has given us wholesomeness through forgiveness. We have named our son, and we will see him someday in heaven. Thank God for His Healing.
Employment ProblemsBefore: I’ve had five jobs in the last six years, and it’s been six months since I’ve worked now. I’ve thought about just workin’ for myself, cause I just don’t get along with my supervisors. They are pretty much all the same. You can’t be yourself on the job, you know. If you just keep your mouth shut its OK, but I’m not that way. I mean when I have a good idea to do somethin’ or change it for the better, I just do it. They don’t appreciate me. No one does, now. But before (the abortion) I worked for one company for seven years . . . Janet doesn’t want kids anyway, ’cause how could we support them, with me not workin’ steady.
After: Now I’m so different. Jesus has healed me, He’s healed me. I’m back on track and I’m working, and we’re pregnant again, He healed both of us. We named our lost son Michael.
Fear, Distrust, and ParanoiaBefore: (Wife’s comments) He is just acting more and more possessive of my time. He accuses me of running around on him. It isn’t true, but he’s just real paranoid. He won’t let Johnny out of his sight when he’s home and he sometimes questions me for hours about whether I’m watching Johnny close enough when he is at work. He calls a hundred times a day to check on me. He wasn’t this way before Johnny was born. He finally told me about the abortion he paid for seven years ago, with another woman. It crushed me, but now I know why he is acting this way. He needs to get help, so that’s why I called you.
After: I know it was the love of those men and that Bible study that kept us together. Paul’s a wonderful father now. The restoration is ongoing because he has the tools to deal with it now.
Drug AbuseBefore: After the reality hit me that she’d (my first wife) aborted the only child we could have I just couldn’t take the pain so I started on it and got her hooked too. Cocaine is so hard to stop, because we could always forget our problems with cocaine, but they never went away. After that we went broke, and then we just drifted apart. I can trace it (the divorce) all back to the abortion. That’s what did it. It was the pain and us blaming each other.
I was using a lot of the stuff when I married my second wife. My wife was real patient, and she got me off the stuff finally. Then I found out she had an abortion too. I almost went back, but we fortunately found a bible study group and they said there were support groups for post-abortion stuff, so we went.
After: I finally realized the whole reason I was using Coke was to dull the pain of my memory of my little boy. He was aborted in 1981. He would be, well he is, 12 now, in heaven. I’m believing God that I’ll see him someday when I get there. Thank God for the Bible study group. I love you guys. I’ll never forget these past weeks when we prayed.
Estrangement from GodAfter: What I didn’t realize was that I was looking at God as though he was trying to get even with me for supporting my girlfriend’s abortion. I never thought He could possibly love or forgive me. When I found out that God and my baby both forgave me for what I did, I could start living again. It’s scary how many things I avoided because I was afraid of God, faith, prayer, church, fellowship with others . . . and I didn’t even read the Bible much. I was just projecting my own fears onto God. I really just wanted to get even with myself. Isn’t that weird? Thank God I’m straightened out now. I can’t believe how forgiving He is.
Abortion’s False Promise
Abortion has left a wake of God size problemswith our culture. Millions of men and women just like the ones in the stories you’ve just read are hurting everyday because of the loss of one or more children to abortion. Over thirty-five million babies have been aborted since 1973. Each has a mother, father, grandparents and siblings. In some way, post-abortion stress affects all of them. It becomes a secret which must be guarded. Many men and women would rather end relationships, end employment, family, or church attendance than ever divulge their scary past abortion experience. Suffering in silence is preferable to the public shame and embarrassment felt in confessing the problem. Abortion is one experience which is taboo in conversation for both women and men.
This shame-induced silence allows us to continue to believe in the myth that abortion solves social problems. In the early 1970’s, the promise of abortion was that it would free women to control their destinies, reduce the rates of domestic violence and child abuse, reduce the welfare rolls, and ensure that children are “wanted.” It was a false promise. The experiment failed.
Abortion has encouraged irresponsible behavior, and worse. Women are being coerced into unwanted abortions or abandoned to raise their children alone. Divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, and welfare costs have all risen on a parallel track with the increasing number of women and men who have suffered the trauma of abortion. Hosea 4:1-3 reminds us “because there is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land . . . there is cursing, lying, and murder, stealing and adultery, they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed, therefore shall the land mourn . . . and all who live in it shall waste way.
Abortion never solves social problems; it can only make them worse.
The Lord’s Remedy — “Reverse the Curse”
In reading the vignettes above, could you see where the pains of fatherhood lost required corresponding victories in the process of healing? Could you see that abortion hinders praise for God and undermines self-confidence in one’s ability to be a responsible parent and citizen.
After being involved in an abortion a host of men and women just quit going to church. Others go, but they stay sidelined because of their great fear that God is still mad at them and couldn’t use them for His service.
This is a great tragedy. At this crucial time, abortion has rendered many women and men powerless and too discouraged to act. Many men have trouble praying because an unresolved abortion experience blocks their worship. To others, church represents a scary place where they may be found out. Still others feel ineffective in life; they cannot understand how the power of Christ can change much because they feel so unworthy of His blessings.
Can you relate to the need of Christian men and women to be bold in their manhood, womanhood, fatherhood, motherhood, and marriage? Can you see that abortion makes such bold living difficult? This is necessarily so because abortion involves a secret shame and pain, and as Abraham Lincoln once said: “A bold man has nothing to hide, but a man who has something to hide can never be bold.”
These vignettes also show that through the healing and reconciliation offered by God, our Lord builds up stronger and bolder men and women. Could it be that by offering these wounded people a sanctuary of healing within the Church, we will be restoring to the Body of Christ a legion of bold witnesses to the mercy and love of God?
I call upon all Christians, pastors, and lay leaders; take a look at the world, the Father’s object of love (Jn 3:16). The world is very confused, very hurting because of lost fatherhood, lost motherhood — lost courage. We live in a culture which has lost its confidence in God as our helper. At best we tend toward mediocrity, at worst, brokenness, death, and destruction.
What the world desperately needs is the compassion and encouragement that only believers can offer — God has accepted us! Can we not accept others and encourage them in their capacity to be parents with a calling to raise Godly children?
God can use even our worst human failing to turn us into better people. From the secret, paralyzing pain of abortion he can fashion children of God who are a bold testimony of His great healing love and mercy. He can turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, and reverse the curse of abortion.
If the Church does not offer healing, who will? If not now, when?
May God bless you in answer to this call to be bold in your witness to His mercy and love!
Warren Williams, a Christian Lay Counselor and member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, is founder of Fathers and Brothers in Boulder, Colorado, which specializes in ministry to men who have lost one or more children by abortion. Warren can be reached at Fathers and Brothers Ministries, 350 Broadway, Suite 40, Boulder, CO 80306, (303) 494-3282. Copyright 1996 Warren Williams. Published in The Post-Abortion Review 4(4) Fall 1996.
Who I Want To Be
I wasn’t in the room; I wasn’t even in the clinic that day. But in my mind, I’ve been there a million times since. I’ve been there watching, breaking, wanting to rescue you. In my mind I need to be a hero not a killer, the man who didn’t flee. But I am not. I am the man I fear to see. (Testimony cited in Rue, Ethics & Medics, April 1996)
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