Can I Be Forgiven If I’ve Had an Abortion?
If a woman has been involved in abortion, God does not require that she spend the rest of her life walking around with a red “A” on her chest.
Written by R.C. Sproul | Tuesday, January 26, 2016
“True repentance acknowledges the reality of the guilt and does not try to justify it. Anyone who approaches God with true humility, contrition, and an earnest resolution not to commit the sin again will surely receive the forgiveness of God.”
Since the Bible mentions an unforgivable sin, there has been much speculation concerning its specific identity. Some people have jumped to the conclusion that abortion is the unforgivable sin, because murder is one of the most heinous of sins and abortion has been considered a form of murder. Is this a valid conclusion concerning the unforgivable sin? No.
Without delving into the theological technicalities, let me say categorically that there is no biblical evidence to support the idea and considerable evidence to deny that abortion is the unforgivable sin.
King David was guilty of murder; for his personal gain, he conspired to have Uriah killed. David wanted to marry Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. David’s remorse over his sin is a model of biblical contrition. His prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 is classic. We have every reason to believe that, even after his compound sins of adultery and murder, David was forgiven and restored to fellowship with God. There is no less reason to believe that those who undergo abortions may be forgiven, too.
To experience the profound liberation of forgiveness, one must simply go to God and confess the sin with a humble heart and a contrite spirit. Contrition involves a genuine and godly sorrow for having disobeyed God. It differs from the repentance of attrition, which is a false form of repentance motivated by a fear of punishment. Attrition is seen in a child who, when he sees a paddle in his mother’s hand, is sorry that he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. True repentance acknowledges the reality of the guilt and does not try to justify it. Anyone who approaches God with true humility, contrition, and an earnest resolution not to commit the sin again will surely receive the forgiveness of God.
We often hear the question, “If you had the opportunity to live your life over again, what would you do differently?” Sometimes people answer by saying they would do everything exactly the same. I have a hard time believing that. All of us have things in our past for which we are ashamed. In my case, there are things I have said that I wish I hadn’t spoken. But once a word escapes from my lips, I cannot call it back. It is like an arrow released from a bow. I can change my words or apologize for my words, but once they are uttered they cannot be recalled. What has been done cannot be undone. It is a matter of history.
Though what I have done cannot be undone, I can be forgiven. Forgiveness is one of the marvels of God’s grace. Its healing power is magnificent. If a woman has been involved in abortion, God does not require that she spend the rest of her life walking around with a red “A” on her chest. He does require that she repent of her sin and come to Him for the cleansing of forgiveness. When God forgives us, we are forgiven. When God cleanses us, we are made clean. That is a cause for great celebration.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isa. 1:18)
This article previously appeared on Ligonier.org.