Clergy need to get this one right! Save The 1 has published two recent stories in which the pregnant rape victims’ clergy not only advised them that’s it’s acceptable to abort, but actually encouraged them to do so. One rape victim went through with the abortion, and the other did not. In other words, a pastor was responsible for the death of an innocent unborn child.
Nicole W. Cooley, in her story, A Tale of Two Mothers Who Were Pregnant By Rape, writes: “Unfortunately, the only specific advice came from my pastor. She told me, ‘Let me put your heart at ease. In the eyes of the church, any decision, prayerfully considered, is okay. In your case, I think you should have an abortion. You need to be able to move past this. You should have an abortion.’
“She went on to tell me about her two daughters who had also faced unplanned pregnancies. One had chosen adoption, the other abortion, and both were equally good decisions, she said. She dismissively added, ‘There’s a couple in the church who want to adopt, but, no, you shouldn’t talk to them. You need to have an abortion.’ I remember my heart telling me, ‘Isn’t there something in Psalms about this?'”
Nicole deeply regretted her abortion, and suffered for many years as a result. She says a key component to her healing was her godly husband telling her, “I love you, but what you did was wrong.” Women need to hear the truth.
In her testimonial, From Victimhood to Motherhood, I Chose Joy, Paula K. Peyton explains, the morning after the rape, “I spoke to my priest who was very supportive of me as a rape victim. But she actually took me to Walgreens to buy Plan B, which I never took because it wasn’t something I was comfortable with. I don’t take birth control because I’m not comfortable with it. I already knew Plan B could have the effect of preventing implantation if an embryo was already created. I was worried about STDs, and of course, I was concerned about pregnancy since I knew the timing and that I could be ovulating. I’d had discussions with friends in the past about Plan B and we had talked about not knowing if you would have lost a baby or not, and I had already concluded that it would be horrible not knowing.” When she found out she was pregnant, this same priest also advised her to abort. But Paula says, “the Lord had taken one of the worst things in my life — something so dark and damaging — and He had created life.”
With Save the 1, we now have a network of nearly 550 who became pregnant by rape, as well as those conceived in rape, and I’ve repeatedly heard other stories like this, where the pregnant rape victim sought counsel from her clergy, and the priest or pastor advised her to abort, telling her that God will forgive her — and it wasn’t just female clergy. But the issue is not whether God forgives our sins — the critical question for clergy is this: Is it a sin to abort when the pregnancy is the result of rape? Yes, it is! Theologians, ministry leaders and pastors need to be clear on this. Abortion intentionally ends the life of an innocent living human being. Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 clearly command: “You shall not murder.” Killing an innocent unborn child after rape through the premeditated act of abortion fits the definition of murder: “You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” — James 5:6 Punish rapists, not babies.
Pastors and priests should know better — as with any other sin, there is accountability for the shedding of innocent blood. Genesis 9:5,6 warns: “And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Just do a Bible search of “innocent blood,” and you’ll see a plethora of Scripture verses — how relevant innocence is, and how God detests the shedding of innocent blood. Here are the most common questions asked when it comes to theology of abortion in cases of rape, and clergy must get these answers right:
1. Is abortion murder?
Yes. This is critical to know the answer to this question when being asked for biblical advice on whether to abort. While it’s not helpful to condemn post-abortive friends by saying, “You’re a murderer,” many of our post-abortive rape victims from Save The 1 have used this kind of language toward themselves, and several sexual abuse survivors moms who contemplated abortion use that language in describing what they almost did to their child, or what others urged them to do. Certainly someone who has been asked for a biblical perspective should be able to answer this question accurately.
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Abortion always involves bloodshed — babies do not just magically disappear. No woman takes a pill and the baby just vanishes into thin air. And the unborn baby is always innocent.
Consider Exodus 21:22-25, which is the first place in the Bible where the law of “an eye for an eye” is declared. This passage demonstrates the seriousness with which God takes the injury to a pregnant woman or her unborn child: “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” I’ve seen liberal theologians actually argue that the verse only pertains to harm to the woman, but this standard necessarily includes harm to the unborn child, or the verse would not be talking about a pregnant woman! The injury or death to the unborn child is what’s critical here.
In Amos 1:13, God says that for Ammon’s sins, He “will not relent. Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead.” So it’s clear that God expressly counts the ripping open of pregnant women as a sin. That’s exactly what abortion is. Again, the fact that the women are pregnant is relevant — not because of her autonomy, but because of the harm to her unborn child.
Abortion involves the killing of one’s own children and is just another form of child-sacrifice. Making the rape exception to your pro-life views is modern-day child sacrifice. Look at Psalm 106:37-38: “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” The child conceived out of rape is still the rape survivor mother’s own son or daughter — innocent blood.
I shudder when I read Jeremiah 20:17, “For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever.” Abortion turns a mother’s womb into a grave.
2. But what about in cases of rape?
The Bible is clear that only the rapist is to be punished for the rape: “But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.” — Deuteronomy 22:25
However, it’s estimated that, in the United States, only 1% of rapists are ever convicted for the crime of rape. According to the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Coker v Georgia and Kennedy v Louisiana, rapists and even child molesters don’t deserve the death penalty — that it’s “cruel and unusual punishment.” So how could the innocent child conceived out of that rape deserve the death penalty?
Proverbs 17:15 warns: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the Lord detests them both.” And Proverbs 18:5 tell us: “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice,” which is what the Supreme Court has done, along with every law passed banning or regulating abortion with a rape exception included. Clergy do the same when they encourage the innocent child to be killed, which also happens to destroy the evidence of the rape, protecting the perpetrator!
1 Kings 8:32 and 2 Chronicles 6:23 both say: “Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.” The rapist is guilty, while the child is innocent, yet there are some clergy and other Christians who are prepared to allow the innocent child to be put to death, but not the rapist!
In Deuteronomy 24:16 and 2 Kings 14: 6b, God makes it very clear: “Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.” As a child conceived in rape, God’s word affirms that I did not deserve the death penalty for the crime of my biological father. I’m appalled that any pastor or priest would suggest otherwise.
In Ezekiel chapter 18, it’s further explained: “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things. . . . He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin. . . . “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” — verses 14, 17 b, 18a, 19-20
There is ample scripture regarding God’s concern for the fatherless, and no one is more at risk to end up fatherless than the child conceived in rape. “Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3 Clergy are “doing wrong” when they give the okay for the innocent child to be aborted.
3. Isn’t this “the rapist’s baby” or “demon seed?”
No! Every child is created by God, in His image, for a purpose. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” — Genesis 1:27 And Job 31:15 explains: “Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?”
Psalm 139:13-16 is true for every child, regardless of the circumstances of his or her conception:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
God is the author of life and we are not to question what He has divinely created. Isaiah 45: 9-12:
“Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘He has no hands?’
Woe to him who says to his father,
‘What have you begotten?’
or to his mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’”
“This is what the Lord says —
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
It is I who made the earth
and created mankind upon it.”
Like any other child, I was created by God, in His image, for a purpose — and that purpose was not to be aborted! I actually had a Christian woman once suggest to me that God might create some children for the purpose of being aborted. I have to wonder where she got this theology. It is the responsibility of clergy to be teaching that none of us are to question to the work of God’s hands, and that’s exactly what’s happening when you contemplate abortion, or when you give the green light to abort.
In Matthew 18, Jesus speaks at length about the little children, and says the following in the parable of the lost sheep: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” — verses 10:14
Jesus was specifically talking about the little ones who are despised who are at risk of perishing, and he makes it clear that God is not willing that any of them should die! In today’s society, are not these despised little ones children conceived in rape? There is no other people group today that are as systematically targeted and despised as the child conceived in rape. But God isn’t about making exceptions. These children are His priority!
4. So does that mean that God intends rape?
No! God gave people free will because love requires free will. He wants us to be obedient out of love. Tragically, against the law of God, some use that free will to harm others, as when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. But what they intended for evil, God used it for good. See Genesis 50: 19-21. It’s a theme we see throughout Scripture, including the death and resurrection of our Savior. In Isaiah 63:3, we see that for those who are grieving, He will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” It’s what God does, and what He’s famous for! Bringing good out of evil is one of His trademarks. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28
God is not pro-rape, just as valuing my own life does not make me pro-rape. Mothers can love their children conceived in rape without being pro-rape. Being Christians does not make us pro-crucifixion, and neither is God. Sorry if the question seems absurd to some of you, but please keep in mind that these are actual questions I get asked.
5. If a woman has committed the sin of abortion, is it unforgivable?
No! Jesus died on the cross once for all, for every sin. See Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18, and Hebrews 9:28. “If we confess our sins, his is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 “Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” — Acts 3:19
I’ve been stunned over the years by how many women have come up to me after they heard me speak, confessed their abortions to me, then asked, “Do you forgive me?” I tell them “I don’t feel it’s my place that you would need my forgiveness.” It’s not my place to condemn them. Then I inquire as to whether they’ve asked God to forgive them, and the answer is always in the affirmative. I further ask, “Do you believe God forgives you?,” and they tend to answer with shrugs, “Yeah. Yeah, I guess He forgives me.”
When I ask the next question, “Have you forgiven yourself?,” these women often have a more difficult time of it. I tell them what someone once told me when I was struggling to forgive myself for something painful I’d done: “When you fail to forgive yourself, it’s like saying that what God did by sending His son to die on the Cross for you isn’t good enough for you — that it was in vain, and that what you have to say it is more important than what God has to say.” Forgiving yourself is what it really means to say that God’s grace is sufficient — what He did is good enough for me.
But even when they understand this truth and are able to repent, to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive themselves, they still have asked me if I forgive them. And I know why they ask me. Because I am someone who was conceived in rape and nearly aborted by my birthmother, they see me as a surrogate for their children, and they think that if I can forgive them, then maybe — just maybe, their children will forgive them. What they are really asking is, “Will my baby forgive me?” This is another theological question clergy better be prepared to answer when asked by a post-abortive mother. What I offer these women is, “All I know is that there will be no more tears in Heaven,” and to the extent they need to hear it from me, my answer is “Yes, I forgive you.”
It’s important to offer grace and mercy, but please, please, don’t let your good advice be a day late. Many clergy are experts at giving advice on forgiveness — as they should be, but fail miserably in giving sound, biblical advice on life-ending sin. Murder is a sin, abortion is included in murder, which involves the shedding of innocent blood. Only the rapist is to be punished for his crime. A child is not to be punished for the sins of his or her father. Every child, including children conceived in rape, is made by God, in the image of God, for His purposes. God does not intend rape, He makes beautiful things come out of evil, and God is able to forgive those who have committed the sin of abortion.
It is clearly against the law of God to have an abortion in the case of rape or incest, and I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful to those who defended my life and protected me when my birth mother was vulnerable and sought to abort me. The church is often the first place where a pregnant woman will seek counsel. Clergy and the body of Christ should be the first to come to the defense of the innocent child.
LifeNews Note: Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, attorney, wife, mother of 5, founder and President of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, and author of the Heritage House ’76 pamphlet “Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope.” Visit her website at www.rebeccakiessling.com