By Dave Andrusko
When I mention that you can read an article that I am drawing from in its entirety, I do so because my goal truly is to persuade you to go to the original. That is particularly the case with “Jesus Died for Someone’s Sins, But Not For Hers” by Russell E. Saltzman. I re-read it (for the third or fourth time) today and it still moved me nine years after it first appeared.
We often write about abortion “stigma.” To the zealous abortion advocate (is there another kind?), this soul-erosion is not internally generated but the product of externally imposed judgmentalism, usually from [you guessed it] the Patriarchy.
They counsel the aborted woman, “Tell your story” [preferably in the company of other women who have aborted] “and not only will you come to see there is nothing to regret, but you will also help eliminate the public shaming [stigma] of women.”
But in so doing, they have to keep their own hearts in check, lest they, too, lapse into “judgmentalism.”
Buried underneath self-deception and misdirection, they know what they had done—and to whom—which is why they have to insist that what is scorching their own consciences must come from without.
The story that Mr. Saltzman tells is quite different. A former dean of the North American Lutheran Church (who later became a Catholic), Saltzman describes this as “a parish experience I prefer not to relive.”
He introduces his story with a lyric from a song from punk rocker Patti Smith: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but he didn’t die for mine.” Without getting into a discussion of the theology behind this lyric (or subsequent ones in the song “Gloria”), Saltzman writes that he does not see pride as the underlying attitude.
I did read of someone ensnared by sin, deceived into helplessness with no ready means of rescue, someone resigned.
Which brought him back to a young woman he called “Rachel.” A regular attendee at worship, she was saving to go to college when one day she up and left her home. Saltzman tells us subsequently he met Rachel for lunch and “fussed at her about never letting us see her at worship.”
It turned out that Rachel had undergone an abortion—her boyfriend insisted—and after all these years Saltzman remembered only two things she’d said:
“I can’t go there anymore.” Did she mean church or home? But before I could ask her to expand she let it out, eyes down, voice soft, right there in a restaurant. “I had an abortion; God will never forgive that.”
Saltzman heard Rachel’s lament in Smith’s lyric when she sang, “Jesus died for somebody’s sin, but he didn’t die for mine.” And there is Saltzman’s own lament
I never saw Rachel at worship again, and though she did graduate college she never again received communion from my hand, and I weep at that as I write it.
I am a Lutheran but not a theologian, so I would not pretend to be able to ably summarize Saltzman’s explanation of “confession and absolution as Lutherans practice it.” My point, in any case, is something Saltzman alluded to earlier.
The Abortion Establishment is desperate to convince abortive women that what they are hearing in their hearts is implanted pro-life propaganda. False memories, as it were. You didn’t really then, you don’t really now, regret what you did, right? Why would you, they tell her.
They continue to tell the woman who has aborted why she should never, even for a moment, talk as if the “product” had an independent existence and worth of her/his own. They meant nothing, they were in the way, and—if you insist on mentioning the Other— “it’s” better off wherever “it” now resides.
Abortion was right for you.
Rachel knows better. She knew she had not protected her baby, particularly difficult because of the pressure the boyfriend was putting on her. (As is so often the case, he left anyway after she aborted.)
The next tragedy was to think that God will not—could not?—forgive her.
That is the level of regret that women can experience when they betray themselves and what they know is right: The conviction that their offense is so awful that not even the Creator of the Universe and the Author of Life will forgive them.
To the pro-abortion set, this is beyond nonsense. It’s just irrational guilt, the product of a culture that “doesn’t value women.”
But I have talked with women post-abortion. (Better put, I’ve listened.) One time, out of the blue, a friend of mine told me she’d had three abortions. It was one of the most intense, troubling experiences of my adult life. Most often the story of their abortion—or too often abortions (as was the case with my friend) surfaced seemingly unbidden.
I knew how much they hurt. I knew how overwhelming their remorse was. I knew that their regret was welling up from deep inside. They didn’t need me or anyone else to remind them that they wished with all their heart and soul that they had chosen otherwise.
Pro-lifers don’t condemn. How could that help the woman or the lost baby (or any subsequent baby), or the family? What would it say about us?
We come to console and to succor and to remind them that forgiveness is what grace is all about.
All they need to do is sincerely ask.