Restoring Fatherhood Lost
by Warren Williams
Fathers become involved in an abortion in one of five ways: (1) they
encourage or support the woman to choose abortion; (2) they pressure her
to abort; (3) they abandon her to make the decision alone: (4) they unsuccessfully
oppose the abortion; or (5) they learn about the abortion only after it
has been done.
No matter how they were involved, most men will try to "stuff it away."
They are embarrassed and ashamed. They seldom want to talk about it, even
if they are experiencing a great sense of loss and pain.
Most men are very reluctant to enter a process of healing. If they do
share their loss with others, many will only partially reveal their pain.
When they do this, they have an immediate release of all that pent-up hurt,
and they feel better. Sometimes they mistake this for the end of their
healing process, when it is really just the beginning. I tell this to men
before we meet, so they will not think just one meeting and a "quick fix"
conversation will be a cure-all for them
Abortion Undermines our Human Design
God has made us in His image. Our main mission in life is to find fellowship
with God, acknowledge and feel his blessing on our lives, and to worship
Him. (Is. 43:21) God has placed a kind of homing device within us. (Heb.
8:10). He did this when He created and blessed us (male & female) and
instructed us in our life dimensions.
God created within each of us certain fundamental needs and desires.
It is useful to number look at these the seven P's. Chief among these are
the desire to Praise God and to Preserve our heritage (our
seed). These destinies are pursued through Procreation (whereby
we cooperate with God in bringing forth new life) and by Parenting
(whereby we pass on our faith, wisdom, and values to our children). Integral
to our role as procreators and parents is the built-in desire to Protect
and Provide for our offspring, which in turn depends on our ability
to Perform well in our daily duties. Our happiness in life will
largely be measured by our ability satisfy these God given desires. When
these needs are attacked or frustrated the integrity -- or wholeness --
of our personhood becomes disordered.
Abortion is a major frontal assault on all these dimensions of our God-given
design. Needless to say, when a child is lost to abortion, the parents
and grandparents have failed to preserve their heritage. While they
may have subsequent children, a line of their heritage is irretrievably
lost. In becoming pregnant, they experienced God's gift of procreation
but in a rejection of God's gift, their child died an unnatural death.
Abortion signifies one's failure to protect and provide for
one's child. These failures may in turn undermine one's confidence making
it difficult to perform in one's daily duties. Each and all of these
failings can become obstacles in praising God either because one
has set his or herself up against God or because he or she feels unworthy
of God's love and forgiveness.
Abortion deeply wounds the nature and spirit of both men and women.
This wound threatens trust for one another -- and for God and His love.
Just as Adam and Eve were hiding from God in fear of His retribution, so
men and women hide in fear for the mistake of an abortion. "Anyone who
participates in the death of another shall forever be a fugitive" (Prov.
In the years since 1978 I have met with some 75 men in counseling situations
dealing with their pain over a past abortion. They have given me many insights
into the profuse pains and disruptions of life which abortion wreaks on
families. With the permission of these men who have done their grief work
and settled up with God, I offer the following vignettes. Each account
reflects a sample of the kind of problems millions of men face after losing
an aborted son or daughter. Each vignette includes both intake statements
before the bible study began and an exit statement. Many of the men described
in these vignettes have healed. Others are still in the process of fully
restoring their spiritual health.
While both women and men face may hesitate to seek help in post-abortion
recovery, it is my experience that this may especially hard for men. Men
may feel more obligated to mask or hide their pain or to "tough it out"
As you read these brief "snapshots" of the disruption abortion caused
in these lives, look for the ways in which the abortion has undermined
the ability of these men to praise, preserve, procreate, parent, protect,
provide and perform.
Fear of Church
Before: The last thing I wanted to do was go to church. I couldn't
just show up and smile like nothing had happened. What I did when I helped
her get the abortion . . . well, I was just as guilty of killing my child
as she was. I couldn't face those other people with that on my chest, so
that's why I quit going to church. Besides, even if I went and go things
right, who would ever really deep down forgive me? I mean I probably wouldn't
have even found anyone to talk to about it.
After: It was better for everyone that I left, that's truly how
I looked at it, before I got into this Bible study and started healing
up. Now I can go back to church and feel better. I don't have to hang my
Love Relationship Affected
Before: I was relieved after the abortion was over, but it was
kind of eerie. When Beth and I drove home we didn't talk about it. We were
kind of distant from each other in a real strange kind of way. We both
knew something had changed but we weren't sure exactly what. I mean we
knew about the baby being gone and all, but there was something else. Still
its not something you just talk about, you know. Later our relationship
just kept deteriorating and we finally just broke-up. We just got to the
place where we just fought all the time, and we didn't have that trust
you need to keep going, you know.
After: After going through this group, I know now it was the
abortion that did it, but if you'd asked me at the time I would've denied
it. Denial is so strong. I can't believe I just lived with the pain all
Before: Sometimes when I get close to Jimmy (my three year old
son), I become saddened by the memory of my aborted child. He would have
been Jimmy's stepbrother. He would be five now. I try to shake these feelings,
but they won't go away. Its like he knows something's going on. He just
looks at me sometimes and says "What's wrong daddy?" I wish I knew myself.
I wonder if I'll ever get over this.
After: I found in this Bible study a group of men who were going
through the same thing. It was like having "high church" when we prayed
together. God has healed me. No more fears! Jimmy and I have a wonderful
father/son relationship and I will tell him of his stepbrother when the
time is right. He's one of my children too. I just won't see him 'til heaven.
Before: (Wife's comments.) I left him, because I couldn't take
the beatings anymore. He never forgave me for the abortion. He would get
so angry, then just start -- breaking things -- and then hitting me. Then
he would leave for hours or sometimes days. Sometimes I'd try to talk it
out. He would never admit it was the abortion. But I know it was, cause
he wasn't like this before. I know I really hurt him when I left, but I
just couldn't take it no more.
After: God has worked a miracle. Roger is a changed man. I don't
know all that those guys did and prayed about in that group, but it gave
me my husband back and we are working through our problems!
After: I was in medical school. Having a child would have been
awkward, at the least, and we were not married, so it would have been evidence
of an embarrassing failure to my family. I didn't know having the abortion
would change the rest of my life, and my wife's as well. After our wedding
we spent years just going through the motions of marriage. Our hollow relationship
and the consuming loss was overwhelming. Now, God has given us wholesomeness
through forgiveness. We have named our son, and we will see him someday
in heaven. Thank God for His Healing.
Before: I've had five jobs in the last six years, and it's been
six months since I've worked now. I've thought about just workin' for myself,
cause I just don't get along with my supervisors. They are pretty much
all the same. You can't be yourself on the job, you know. If you just keep
your mouth shut its OK, but I'm not that way. I mean when I have a good
idea to do somethin' or change it for the better, I just do it. They don't
appreciate me. No one does, now. But before (the abortion) I worked for
one company for seven years . . . Janet doesn't want kids anyway, 'cause
how could we support them, with me not workin' steady.
After: Now I'm so different. Jesus has healed me, He's healed
me. I'm back on track and I'm working, and we're pregnant again, He healed
both of us. We named our lost son Michael.
Fear, Distrust, and Paranoia
Before: (Wife's comments) He is just acting more and more possessive
of my time. He accuses me of running around on him. It isn't true, but
he's just real paranoid. He won't let Johnny out of his sight when he's
home and he sometimes questions me for hours about whether I'm watching
Johnny close enough when he is at work. He calls a hundred times a day
to check on me. He wasn't this way before Johnny was born. He finally told
me about the abortion he paid for seven years ago, with another woman.
It crushed me, but now I know why he is acting this way. He needs to get
help, so that's why I called you.
After: I know it was the love of those men and that Bible study
that kept us together. Paul's a wonderful father now. The restoration is
ongoing because he has the tools to deal with it now.
Before: After the reality hit me that she'd (my first wife)
aborted the only child we could have I just couldn't take the pain so I
started on it and got her hooked too. Cocaine is so hard to stop, because
we could always forget our problems with cocaine, but they never went away.
After that we went broke, and then we just drifted apart. I can trace it
(the divorce) all back to the abortion. That's what did it. It was the
pain and us blaming each other.
I was using a lot of the stuff when I married my second wife. My wife
was real patient, and she got me off the stuff finally. Then I found out
she had an abortion too. I almost went back, but we fortunately found a
bible study group and they said there were support groups for post-abortion
stuff, so we went.
After: I finally realized the whole reason I was using Coke was
to dull the pain of my memory of my little boy. He was aborted in 1981.
He would be, well he is, 12 now, in heaven. I'm believing God that I'll
see him someday when I get there. Thank God for the Bible study group.
I love you guys. I'll never forget these past weeks when we prayed.
Estrangement from God
After: What I didn't realize was that I was looking at God as
though he was trying to get even with me for supporting my girlfriend's
abortion. I never thought He could possibly love or forgive me. When I
found out that God and my baby both forgave me for what I did, I could
start living again. It's scary how many things I avoided because I was
afraid of God, faith, prayer, church, fellowship with others . . . and
I didn't even read the Bible much. I was just projecting my own fears onto
God. I really just wanted to get even with myself. Isn't that weird? Thank
God I'm straightened out now. I can't believe how forgiving He is.
Abortion's False Promise
Abortion has left a wake of God size problems with our culture.
Millions of men and women just like the ones in the stories you've just
read are hurting everyday because of the loss of one or more children to
abortion. Over thirty-five million babies have been aborted since 1973.
Each has a mother, father, grandparents and siblings. In some way, post-abortion
stress affects all of them. It becomes a secret which must be guarded.
Many men and women would rather end relationships, end employment, family,
or church attendance than ever divulge their scary past abortion experience.
Suffering in silence is preferable to the public shame and embarrassment
felt in confessing the problem. Abortion is one experience which is taboo
in conversation for both women and men.
This shame-induced silence allows us to continue to believe in the myth
that abortion solves social problems. In the early 1970's, the promise
of abortion was that it would free women to control their destinies, reduce
the rates of domestic violence and child abuse, reduce the welfare rolls,
and ensure that children are "wanted." It was a false promise. The experiment
Abortion has encouraged irresponsible behavior, and worse. Women are
being coerced into unwanted abortions or abandoned to raise their children
alone. Divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, and welfare costs have
all risen on a parallel track with the increasing number of women and men
who have suffered the trauma of abortion. Hosea 4:1-3 reminds us "because
there is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land
. . . there is cursing, lying, and murder, stealing and adultery, they
break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed, therefore shall the land
mourn . . . and all who live in it shall waste way.
Abortion never solves social problems; it can only make them worse.
The Lord's Remedy -- "Reverse the Curse"
In reading the vignettes above, could you see where the pains of fatherhood
lost required corresponding victories in the process of healing? Could
you see that abortion hinders praise for God and undermines self-confidence
in one's ability to be a responsible parent and citizen.
After being involved in an abortion a host of men and women just quit
going to church. Others go, but they stay sidelined because of their great
fear that God is still mad at them and couldn't use them for His service.
This is a great tragedy. At this crucial time, abortion has rendered
many women and men powerless and too discouraged to act. Many men have
trouble praying because an unresolved abortion experience blocks their
worship. To others, church represents a scary place where they may be found
out. Still others feel ineffective in life; they cannot understand how
the power of Christ can change much because they feel so unworthy of His
Can you relate to the need of Christian men and women to be bold in
their manhood, womanhood, fatherhood, motherhood, and marriage? Can you
see that abortion makes such bold living difficult? This is necessarily
so because abortion involves a secret shame and pain, and as Abraham Lincoln
once said: "A bold man has nothing to hide, but a man who has something
to hide can never be bold."
These vignettes also show that through the healing and reconciliation
offered by God, our Lord builds up stronger and bolder men and women. Could
it be that by offering these wounded people a sanctuary of healing within
the Church, we will be restoring to the Body of Christ a legion of bold
witnesses to the mercy and love of God?
I call upon all Christians, pastors, and lay leaders; take a look at
the world, the Father's object of love (Jn 3:16). The world is very confused,
very hurting because of lost fatherhood, lost motherhood -- lost courage.
We live in a culture which has lost its confidence in God as our helper.
At best we tend toward mediocrity, at worst, brokenness, death, and destruction.
What the world desperately needs is the compassion and encouragement
that only believers can offer -- God has accepted us! Can we not
accept others and encourage them in their capacity to be parents with a
calling to raise Godly children?
God can use even our worst human failing to turn us into better people.
From the secret, paralyzing pain of abortion he can fashion children of
God who are a bold testimony of His great healing love and mercy. He can
turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children
to their fathers, and reverse the curse of abortion.
If the Church does not offer healing, who will? If not now, when?
May God bless you in answer to this call to be bold in your witness
to His mercy and love!
Warren Williams, a Christian Lay Counselor and member of the American
Association of Christian Counselors, is founder of Fathers and Brothers
in Boulder, Colorado, which specializes in ministry to men who have lost
one or more children by abortion. Warren can be reached at Fathers and
Brothers Ministries, 350 Broadway, Suite 40, Boulder, CO 80306, (303) 494-3282.
Copyright 1996 Warren Williams. Published in The PostAbortion
Review 4(4) Fall 1996.
I Want To Be
I wasn't in the room;
I wasn't even in the clinic that day.
But in my mind, I've been
there a million times since.
I've been there watching,
breaking, wanting to rescue you.
In my mind I need to be
a hero not a killer, the man who didn't flee.
But I am not.
I am the man I fear to
(Testimony cited in Rue, Ethics & Medics, April 1996)