Response to The Gospel Coalition and Kendra Dahl Regarding Preaching to Hurt Women

Woman caught in adultery

I recently got involved in a somewhat intense discussion on Facebook in response to a post by The Gospel Coalition. The writer of the referenced story was Kendra Dahl. Her column was titled, “Pastor, Preach Like Hurt Women Are Listening’ dated Feb. 14 2019. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/pastor-preach-hurt-women/

My first thought was, “Of course!” Much of what she says goes without saying. It’s only common sense that people in pastoral and preaching ministries need to be compassionate and carrying toward hurting people in their churches. That’s what Jesus is doing and if they properly represent Him they should do likewise. I think the vast majority of preachers are doing a good job at this. It is surprising to me that women are singled out, as if to imply that their pain is greater than men. I’m not sure that Jesus makes that distinction. But, apparently Kendra Dahl, and by extension The Gospel Coalition, think that preachers need to be more careful to not hurt women who have been hurt by abortion. She identifies post abortive women as “victims” because they are hurt by the words that people say about this sin. She emphasizes women who have been victims of sexual abuse and lumps them in with all women who are wounded by what they have done and what people say about this grisly practice. I’ve heard statistics that abortions resulting from rape may only account for 3% of all abortions. Even if we are to be generous and estimate that 10% are true victims of abuse, that still leaves 90% of abortions being done for simple convenience. Some people attribute abortion to ignorance, but, forgive me, I think that’s a cop out. It’s hard to believe in this sophisticated age that women don’t understand that they are eliminating what will be a child. That’s why they are going to the abortionist. If they thought they had a tumor, they would go to a surgeon. So we might estimate that 90% of post abortive women are not really victims, except that they are victims by choice. When a woman decides to kill her child, I don’t think Jesus sees her as an innocent victim. The child that she decides to kill is the innocent victim.

Dahl cites an abhorrent statistic that 25% of all women will have had an abortion by age 45. Millions of children are being killed for convenience. I have seen estimates from Barna research that the rate of abortion, and other sins, is relatively the same in and out of the church. So, it’s safe to say that one in four women sitting in the pew have had an abortion or properly speaking have committed infanticide and 3.6 of them have done for convenience. Dahl and the Gospel Coalition want to remind preachers not to hurt their feelings. She writes, “Consider the shame that post-abortive women can feel as abortion is lamented from the pulpit.”

Dahl is correct in stating that, “Everyone in the congregation needs to hear a call to repentance and receive the assurance of forgiveness in Christ.” Yes, we all need to hear the call, but she neglects to remind us that we must answer the call in order to be healed. True healing and forgiveness only comes when we confess our sin to God and turn away from doing it again. In my experience in pastoral ministry I find that when people refuse to admit and confess their sin, they never get healed from it. Unfortunately, I have encountered too many post abortive women who make excuses for their sin instead of confessing it. Thinking of one’s self as an innocent victim is not conducive to confession. Consider what she writes, “We limp into the pew having been assaulted by headlines and social-media commentary—words and pictures that trigger memories, shame, fear, and disgust. Despite the healing power of the gospel, the effects of our traumatic experiences linger. Our consciences accuse us day and night, and we are spiritually weary. We doubt our belovedness; we wonder if we really belong to Jesus; we wonder if the gospel is sufficient to heal our bleeding wounds.”

There is quite a tone of doubt in her comment. Doubt in the power of the gospel, doubting God’s love, doubting her salvation, etc. The first step to complete healing is to believe the gospel and trust Christ completely! The power to heal and forgive is not in the message alone. It is in Jesus Himself. Never doubt Him.

Note that she feels assaulted by headlines and social media comments, not preachers. Why isn’t the story aimed at journalists and media commentators? I don’t know of any preachers assaulting wounded women, but TGC thinks that preachers need to hear this. Could this be subtle pressure to avoid the topic altogether? In fact, that is exactly what the vast majority of America’s preachers are doing for fear of offending 25% of the women in the congregation. I admit that some social media commentators are mean spirited and I would never encourage that. But, the reason that the outcry against this holocaust is coming from social media is because it is not coming from the pulpits. Some of us feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak up. As it was with the Nazi Holocaust and American slavery, the pulpits are virtually silent. They’re too busy building mega churches. When we do speak up we are accused of lacking compassion. Some anti abortion ministries show graphic images and are attacked by rabid baby killers and Christians alike. There is a group known as Created Equal that travels college campuses with a jumbotron showing graphic images. They cite tremendous progress in changing minds and hearts. William Wilberforce is credited with ending slavery in Britain by showing graphic images. Abortion is a grizzly evil. It may never be eliminated unless people are awakened to the horror.

The church is failing to be a biblical witness to this evil. I have held a baby who was born because I did reach out with the compassion of Jesus to convince the mother to keep her child. I support our local crisis center that offers post-abortion counseling. My concern here has to do with the influence of TGC on America’s pulpits. Preachers lacking compassion is a miniscule problem from what I have observed. On the other hand, 99% of preachers in this land never address the subject. That is a glaring problem that TGC should address.

To never discuss this great national sin fails to provide truth or compassion. I’ve walked with Jesus for 37 years. My sin was heinous and I am grateful for God’s mercy and compassion. I’ve been in pastoral ministry. I’ve visited many Bible believing churches. I am a faithful member of a strong Bible preaching evangelical church. But, in all these years, I rarely hear a message about this holocaust. I don’t believe that mean preaching is a serious problem. It’s a straw man. Ignoring the problem is a serious problem. I think I know why it happens.

 

 

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