Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Power of a Man

Men as Leaders

That's a post I wrote last June, but I wanted to take a moment and expand upon it this morning.

Thinking about mens inherent ability to lead shows their importance in the pro-life effort. It proves that all men have something to offer this effort -- their strength. In Bible study, we discussed the fall of mankind. We discussed how while Eve was the one to first eat the fruit, the text from Genesis does not suggest that Adam was far away. Thus, he plays a part in this act even before he takes a bite. He committed the sin of silence. He didn't help Eve to do the right thing, he did not validate her feeling that was wrong. He took the stance that it wasn't his issue, it was HER problem and HER choice. As a result, she couldn't rely on his strength in the face of temptation -- the snake. So, ultimately, she gave in and took a bite of that forbidden fruit. What Adam failed to see ahead of time is how Eve's action would affect them both.

I see some great parallels with unplanned pregnancy. Studies have shown that the reactions of the woman's partner and her family can greatly influence her decision. When a man's reaction is one of horror or distance, a woman is left in an even harder situation. The man has either told her that her pregnancy is a huge inconvenience for him and therefore is a problem to be solved, or he has told her that it is her problem and she needs to figure out what she's going to do about it because he's not going to help. In either case, the man has turned a difficult situation into a desperate one that the woman feels unable to handle. The likelihood of her choosing life at that slim...because if she chooses life, she's alone in her decision.

Now, I believe that resources need to be available in communities so that these women can see that they're not alone. That someone is there to help them and be a friend and help them figure out how to make choosing life actually work. However, that's not the focus of this post.

So, rather, I want to show you all this man's testimony, in which he discovers that his decisions had consequences for both him and his partner at the time.

The Secret I Buried for 20 Years. I thought my girlfriend’s abortion would make my life easier. I was wrong.

By Steve Arterburn

In front of 2,200 Baylor University students, I confessed a sin: "Twenty years ago I came to this school to get a Christian education, but what I got was a girl pregnant my first year here."

Being invited to speak at my alma mater was a great honor. As I thought about how I could challenge these students, it would have been more fun to play up my accomplishments. But I had to admit who I really was and what I had done.

Twenty years ago, I helped pay for my girlfriend’s abortion. My immediate reaction to her news was it was an inconvenience that must be eliminated. I never stopped to think about what I was doing. I never considered that a real life was inside her that I had helped create. I simply thought the doctor was removing some unwanted tissue.

My wife and I struggled with infertility. Once I could create life, but ended it. Now I could do neither.

Years later I faced the truth. I had selfishly destroyed a human life because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced. My rude awakening was "male post-abortion syndrome," a flood of guilt, confusion, and denial that often follows an abortion. Post-abortion syndrome is typically associated with mothers of aborted children, but I’m one of the thousands of abortion fathers who have also gone through this ordeal. In my case, it resulted in 80 ulcers eating at my stomach, intestines, and colon. The pain was excruciating and made worse by the knowledge that it was a result of my secret sin. Accepting God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ was the miracle I needed. Over time the internal physical scars disappeared; subsequent tests revealed no trace of the trauma. The guilt of my secret sin had destroyed my health. However, God restored it.

Shortly after speaking at Baylor, the woman I had gotten pregnant more than two decades earlier called me. She had heard about my talk. It was wonderful to hear that she, too, had experienced God’s healing from that horrible act.

She had only one suggestion: "The next time you tell the story be more honest about what really happened. You didn’t just help pay for the abortion; you pressured me to get it."

It was true. She never wanted to do it. She wanted to keep the baby. It was my forcefulness that finally led her to do what she didn’t want to do.

I came face-to-face with who I really was – a coward who preyed upon someone else to make my own life easier.

Studies show the most significant factor in a woman’s decision to get an abortion is lack of support from the man to keep the child. As painful as it was hearing it, I was glad this friend from years ago had the courage to confront me.

-For the record, I'm not talking about he and his wife having fertility problems. I'm talking about the emotional and psychological distress that he suffered from later in life regarding the abortion of his child years before.

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