Sadly, the man is often forgotten in the fight for life. Once a woman becomes pregnant the attention goes to her to reach the unborn child. And in the tragic event that she chooses abortion we desire to minister to her loss and pain. There are very minimal efforts to reach out to the man either during the pregnancy and after an abortion decision. I applaud and encourage the intentionality to reach out to women and unborn children. Yet in our efforts, we cannot forget the man. I am convinced that we will be even more effective in our outreach and see more lives saved (physically and spiritually) if we choose to be intentional in ministering to the man as well. This must become a priority for those doing ministry on the front lines through Pregnancy Help/Resource Centers and the local church.
Where is the man to go?
My girlfriend was pregnant and I was a sophomore in college. This was not a part of either of our plans. Society told my girlfriend that it was ‘her’ decision to make. Yet almost every conversation that we had after she found out that she was pregnant was her asking me what ‘we’ should do. She was looking for me to lead. All the voices around me were telling me to think of me, my plans and how much having a child now would ruin my life. If anything, having a child now was an obstacle to fulfilling my dreams of graduating from college and having a successful life. There was not one voice in my life that was telling me the value of the life that God was knitting together in my girlfriend’s womb or of the trauma that abortion would cause my girlfriend or me.
I must admit I still wrestled a little with the decision of encouraging my girlfriend to have an abortion. Yet where was I, a young man, to go to hear anything different? I had grown up going to church and sadly had never heard a message on the sanctity of human life or the sacredness of sex in marriage between a man and a woman. So, I did not think that going back to church was the answer. I had never heard of a ‘crisis pregnancy center’ back then and I can guarantee you that I would not have gone into a place with the name ‘pregnancy’ or ‘women’ in the title thinking that they could help me. In my situation, there was nowhere to go to hear a different perspective. With all that I was hearing, I concluded that the best decision was to encourage my girlfriend to have an abortion so that we could get on with our lives.
Help in an Unexpected Place
Who would have thought a man could find help at a pregnancy center? I for one did not and would not even today had it not become a part of my own story. It has been more than 26 years since my ex-girlfriend and I made the dreadful decision of aborting our unborn child. This decision has led to great hurt and pain in my life in many areas and for many years (go here to read and listen to some of my story). Six years after the abortion of my child, God revealed His Son Jesus to me and I knew that I was forgiven for every sin that I had ever committed. By His grace, God began to bring a measure of healing and transformation to my life that I did not know was even possible. And yet there were areas in my life where I was ‘stuck’. I struggled with outbursts of anger, often directed towards my wife and kids. I found it very hard to bond with my kids. I would fall into deep valleys of depression. I would often feel paralyzed when faced with big decisions. And I found it extremely hard to grieve loss in my life.
I would have never correlated any of these things with the decision to abort my unborn child. Yet a phone conversation with a man 4 years ago was a turning point for me to begin to get unstuck in some of these areas. After hearing of the story of the abortion my ex-girlfriend had, this gentleman asked me a question at the time that I thought was weird. He asked me, ‘How have you invited Jesus to heal the pain you have from the abortion?’. I told him that I had never specifically asked Jesus to heal me from the pain of the abortion. He sent me a book to read, ‘Fatherhood Aborted’, and connected me with a male peer counselor at a Pregnancy Center. From this, I began to see that some of the areas where I was stuck were effects of the abortion. I went through an 8 week post abortive Bible study, at a Pregnancy Center, with the male peer counselor. As a result of that, God has allowed me to experience new levels of healing and forgiveness that I had never known possible. The male counselor was a volunteer from a local church that the pregnancy center reached out to in partnership.
I would have never gone to a pregnancy center had I not been directed there by another man. And I may not have gone even then if I were not directed to another man. What would have happened had a man engaged me at the front end of my story and challenged me to consider the value of 3 lives (my unborn child’s, my ex-girlfriend’s and my own)? No one knows for sure but perhaps there would be a 26-year-old young lady alive today, perhaps my ex-girlfriend would have been spared of the trauma of an abortion and the painful aftermath, perhaps I would have come to know the forgiveness of the Savior sooner, and perhaps I would have been spared of the hurt and pain of the loss of fatherhood due to the abortion.
We Need to Think Differently
Have you ever thought why are there not more men involved in the fight for the life of unborn children and speaking out against the scourge of abortion in our nation? For the most part, our culture has placed the sole responsibility on the woman to decide whether a child she is carrying is given birth or aborted. And I think that many of us in the ‘Pro-Life’ movement have accepted this narrative. For often, she is the only one we offer counsel to during the crisis of an unintended pregnancy. The thinking is if we reach the woman we can help to save the life of the child.
We know that a woman did not become pregnant on her own. There was a man involved. And just as she is the mother of an unborn child, the man, who we have often overlooked, is the father of that unborn child. Though society may deem him irrelevant, he often yields considerable influence on the woman’s decision to have the baby or abort. This was true in my own personal story and research shows that many women have stated that the reason for terminating a pregnancy is related to the man. We must be intentional in reaching out to the man during this pivotal time. By not doing so we fail to validate the man and his role in the conception of this child. This has allowed the man to shirk his responsibility which leaves the woman with an overwhelming burden that she was not meant to carry alone.
We cannot allow the societal mantra of ‘a woman’s right to choose’ to shape how and what we do. We must take our cues from God, the Author of Life. He cares and is concerned for the unborn child in the womb that He made in His image (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16). We can also see from God’s word that He hates the shedding of innocent human blood (Exodus 20:13; Proverb 6:17) and calls His people to defend the weak, rescue the innocent and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 24:10-12, 31:8-9). So, we must continue to fight with all the energy that God provides for the life of the unborn.
It is often easier for us to do all that we can to save the baby rather than minister to the parents. Why? The baby is innocent. They are in the womb because of the choices and actions of the parents. Often, what makes the pregnancy a ‘crisis’ is the fact that the man and woman were engaged in having sex outside of God’s design and purpose. They are in desperate need of God, His forgiveness, help and salvation. A baby being born into the world is a wonderful thing. God longs for parents to choose life for their unborn children! But we must also recognize that God longs for the mother and father of that child to be born again to new spiritual life because they came into a relationship with Jesus Christ. This changes everything for mother, father, and child both now, for future generations, and for eternity.
God has called us to minister to both parents – mother and father. Yet we often only minister to the mother. Why? Because she is the one who shows up looking for help in her time of need and he is often nowhere to be found. We tend to think that the man is a deadbeat and does not care about the life of his unborn child. Yet what have we done to set ourselves up to minister to him in his time of need? How many men are wondering around like I was wrestling with the hardest decision of their life and only hearing one side of the story?
This is true not just during pregnancy but also after an abortion decision has been made. Because men have not been validated, minimized at best, while their children were in the womb. It is not surprising that most people never think about men being affected by an abortion decision. The woman is the only one validated in her right to hurt after the loss of a child due to an abortion. Yet there is a man who has lost a child as well. And men are profoundly impacted and hurt by an abortion decision, whether they pushed for it or not. In my life, the results were extreme depression, increased alcohol consumption, increased sexual activity with women, drive to succeed in education/career, inability to bond with children, uncontrollable rage, low self-esteem, inability to make decisions, and difficulty in grieving death of loved ones.
Though men may be experiencing various effects from the loss of fatherhood due to an abortion, most will never correlate it. I did not until someone made me aware of it. The same has been true as I have shared my story with other men and they’ve said to me ‘I’ve experienced some of those same things after my partner’s abortion.’ Some men who realize that the hurt that they are experiencing is tied to a partner’s abortion often feel like they do not have a right to hurt because they either pushed for it or were silent. While others are bitter because they did not have a say in the decision. Just like the millions of women who have been hurt and wounded by an
abortion decision these millions of men need a place where they can go to invite Christ to heal their wounds and free them from the pain, guilt, and shame of their pasts.
We Must Be Intentional in Reaching Men
Could it be, that of all places, that Pregnancy Centers would lead the way in ministering to men who find themselves in a ‘crisis’ due to the pregnancy of their partner and the place of healing for those broken by an abortion in the past? I believe so if reaching the man becomes an intentional priority in the days ahead.
Here are some ideas in reaching out to men with greater intentionality:
- Pray for God’s heart for the unborn child, mother, and father and wisdom on how to minister to each one.
- Train staff and volunteers with materials and resources that apply to men (net is great place to find some)
- Think of changing name to a neutral name and not one that has ‘women’ or ‘pregnancy’ in it.
- Think of decorating waiting rooms of centers neutral – not feminine (make it an inviting place for men to be by having magazines that apply to men, pamphlets, and materials for men, perhaps a TV)
- Reach out to local churches to recruit male volunteers
- Ask local church men’s ministries to collaborate in offering Bible studies/small groups to men (in areas such as fatherhood, finances, marriage, post-abortion Bible studies)
- Encourage women to invite their partners to the appointment. If man comes then ask woman after the initial appointment if she is ok with bringing him back to discuss what was shared with her. If the man does not come then have some men’s materials available that she can take to him.
- Put information on the website for men (click here to see a good example of this)
- Focus your annual fundraising event on the topic of ‘Men and Abortion’
- Put on a men’s breakfast with collaborating churches and bring in a speaker to talk about Men and Abortion (net for potential speakers)
As we move forward to minister to men with greater intentionality we will validate men in their roles as father’s, from the womb, and their right to hurt after the loss of fatherhood due to an abortion. This will provide us with greater opportunities to help save the lives of unborn children, and minister to both women and men the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which provides the forgiveness of sins, healing for hurts and a transformed life through a relationship with the living God for all who trust Him. And as we do this, the result will be more men rising up and taking their rightful place on the frontlines as champions for their unborn children, ministers of compassion to others in crisis and instruments of God’s healing to others.
The intentionality of a few has blessed my life, marriage, fathering and ministry in ways that I would have never imagined possible. May that also be the testimony of multitudes of men for the glory of God. God bless!!!