In my past marriage I had an abortion. Will I go to hell?
- J. from Indiana
Litmus Test (Part 1)
I want to give you a piece of good news and perhaps, though I hope not, a piece of bad news. The good news first: having an abortion is not the unforgivable sin and does not automatically send you to hell. Abortion is a sin like any other and needs to be repented of but once you sincerely ask for forgiveness, it is wiped as clean from your soul as every other sin known to man.
Going to heaven does have a litmus test however. Heaven is secured—not by any good works done or bad deeds avoided. Rather heaven is secured for those who have genuinely received Jesus Christ as Savior and appropriated his shed blood as a covering for their own unrighteousness. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
You do not mention if you have ever made that decision. That’s the potential bad news since eternal separation from God results otherwise. But if you have never done so, now is the time; it’s certainly not too late. You can confess to God all of your sins (not just the abortion), make him Lord of your life, and he will welcome you with open arms. See Meet the Master for more information and a personal introduction.
Think about this: when you ask if you will go to hell because of the abortion you are actually asking the wrong question. The right question is: Have I asked Jesus to be my Savior and have I brought every sin under the covering of his blood?
Living free past abortion (Part 2)
I don’t want to stop here though and simply give you a theological answer because your question indicates you are probably suffering guilt and condemnation. If you felt no ambivalence or remorse you wouldn’t be asking. Please know that God cares about how you feel and he wants you to be free from the past, no matter how wrong or sinful.
There is practical help working through the issues of past abortions and it may be near at hand for you. In most cities there is a Christian Pregnancy Center that not only helps give pregnancy tests and deals with trauma in pregnancy but aids in recovery from past abortions. The one in my own city provides post abortion counseling. I looked on their web site and this is what they say:
“Abortion carries with it emotional elements. Sometimes women experience relief immediately and sometimes grief and loss immediately. Sometimes emotions are suppressed for years. Sometimes lifestyles change, perspectives change, relationships change. Yet sometimes those events and emotions aren't recognized as related to the abortion until they're looked at in light of that event.”
I have a friend who had two abortions before marrying or becoming a Christian. She felt deep repentance and grief over her decisions and eventually availed herself of the services of our local Pregnancy Center. She was emotionally healed and experienced freedom in Christ to such an extent that she now assists in counseling others who have carried the same baggage.
Perhaps you have repented of your sin but you don’t feel free. Perhaps you go back to the decision time after time and beat yourself up over and over. Perhaps it hangs like a shadow over your life. This need not be and it is certainly not God’s will for your life. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Can you fully embrace those words? Pursue God’s deep love for you until you can say YES with certainty!