Men’s ministry is one of the latest expanded efforts of pregnancy resource centers across the nation. PRC websites highlight ministry to their clients’ boyfriends, husbands, and the fathers of their babies. There are even national fatherhood initiatives that have sprung up to encourage men, and many PRCs are now incorporating those resources into their ministry efforts as well. One large ministry even offered grants for funding part-time staff to PRCs that initiate their endorsed men’s program. As a man who has been involved intimately with PRCs for 20 years, I say great, wonderful, halleluiah! But in order for men’s ministry in the PRC environment to be truly effective, a new foundation will have to be established in the hearts of the men who will shape it and lead it.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, there have been an estimated 50 million abortions performed in this country. I realize that many of those abortions were performed on women who had past abortions. Statistics indicate, however, that the number of individual women who have experienced abortion in the U.S. is approximately 40 million. Additionally, recent statistics predict that by the end of 2010, 40% of the women of childbearing age in the U.S. will have had at least one abortion. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that one in three women who attend church regularly have had at least one abortion. These numbers are sobering, but they leave out something I feel is absolutely essential to formulating an understanding and effective effort to reduce and potentially eliminate abortion.
If 40 million women have experienced abortion, isn’t it pretty safe to assume that there are a similar number of men who have been involved in abortions as well? If so, there are 40 million men walking around out there who have been complicit in the more than 50 million abortions that have taken place since 1973. The question for you might be, does abortion affect these men? I think that’s the wrong question, though. The right question is, how does abortion affect these men? Abortion certainly affects men differently than woman, but I can assure you that abortion has a profound effect on the life of a man.
When asked, most men don’t remember the dates associated with an abortion, nor do they generally associate a past abortion with the birth of another child, as many women do. So how does a past abortion affect a man? For many, it looks like one of the following struggles, or a combination of them: broken relationships, lack of trust, untrustworthiness, anger issues, depression, substance abuse, intimacy issues, overprotective parenting, heavy-handed discipline, pornography, infidelity, physical ailments and other health issues as well. Now I’m not suggesting that anyone experiencing these struggles has had a past abortion. I am suggesting, however, that when a man who has experienced abortion also has a life marked by one or more of these struggles, they may be linked in some way to his abortion experience.
Now little that I have said so far is new. It may be new to you, but all of it has been said before and extensively documented by people much smarter than me. The new concept that I would like to challenge us to think about is this: it really isn’t just about abortion. I will be the first to proclaim that abortion is wrong, a travesty, evil, violent, etc. Yet I am coming to an understanding that there is something more…something deeper that is wrong in men’s lives that results in their involvement in abortion.
Two concepts in God’s written word come immediately to mind as I think and pray about what we may be missing when abortion is our only focus. The first is the concept of sexual immorality, which unfortunately doesn’t have a clear definition in today’s society. Nonetheless, there are acceptable boundaries that God has defined for our sexual behavior. We are told that sexual immorality is the only sin we commit against our own body. So when we are involved in sexual immorality, our bodies will be impacted—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. God’s boundaries need to be rediscovered and proclaimed through our lives as truly a better way of living than what the world is offering.
Rampant sexual immorality is one of the deeper issues that must be addressed. I don’t want to suggest that every client we see is engaged in sexual immorality, but the vast majority of them are. So whether it is politically correct to say or not, the overwhelming majority of abortions occur because of sexually immoral activity. It should also be noted that there are many who are involved in immoral sexual behavior that do not end up pregnant as a result. Just because they don’t have to face the abortion decision doesn’t mean they face no consequences for their actions. Many suffer from the struggles I mentioned earlier.
At the end of the Old Testament we are told that God is going to send a spirit into the world that will return and reconnect the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers. Attached to this promise is a warning that if we do not heed the spirit He sends, there will be a curse fostered on the land. Now I’m not really sure where we are in this timeline, but I am here to tell you that the hearts of fathers need to be turned toward their children today. What’s that, you say? My heart is toward my children? Great, wonderful, keep up the good work, don’t quit! But you are in the minority.
Somewhere between 30% and 50% of all births today are to single moms, unwed mothers. Half of all marriages end in divorce. In the suburbs, fathers are consumed with their careers and their stuff. In the inner city, violence and prison claim the majority of men’s lives. Kids who have a dad at home who is attentive and involved are the exception, not the norm. But even if a dad is available and involved, is his heart really “for” or “toward” his children? It’s a great question. I thought my heart was for my children; I would have said I was one of those dads. Perception is not always reality.
I recently finished reading Loving Your Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk. It was a great read and a revelation for me. Silk’s premise is the essential heart connection between parent and child—how to build it, mature it, repair it, and keep it. He has helped me recognize that the way I parent my children is a direct reflection of my concept of how Father parents me. Well, as I have learned more about the way Father parents me, I have seen how ungodly my well-intentioned approach to parenting my children has been. Abba, please forgive me. Anyway, I’ve been working on the heart connection I have with my kids and making it the priority of our relationship. What I think is happening is that I am actually turning my heart toward my children.
My conclusion is that we need to settle the ambiguous issue of sexual immorality and learn what it means to be fathers with hearts turned toward our children. Once those issues are galvanized in our own souls, we will need to help others come to the same realizations. Over the next weeks and months I will be sharing a way for each of us to engage others in the process. So if your heart has been stirred and you recognize the validity and value of what I have shared, send me your thoughts and comments as we walk this journey together.