Editor's Note: We normally do not include footnotes in our sermons, but Woodruff's endnotes provide some excellent resource material for further study and thinking on this subject.
It's been a long time since I've dreaded preaching on a topic as much as I did this one. It's not that I feared the comments of those who disagreed with my position; it's that I feared hurting those who already live with shame and regret. In light of the risk, I worked hard to write a message that could stand up against criticism and to write a message I could preach to the woman who has had an abortion and has felt shamed by the church. (I also asked a number of people to read over a couple early drafts and help me strike the right tone.)
The response was a bit surprising: 1) I was surprised by how much email this sermon generated; 2) I was surprised by how many women who had had abortions (or men who had paid for them) thanked me for speaking out on the topic; 3) I was sobered by how many not only pulled me aside to tell me—confess really—that they had or recommended an abortion, but by how many of them said something like, "Next Tuesday it will be 38 years since the worst decision of my life."
I will not speak on this topic frequently, but I believe it's critical for pastors to take a public stand on this issue, and to do so with the right blend of conviction and grace.