I met Jesus in April 1970 in an encounter both dramatic and intimate while proctoring an exam in a public high school in San Diego, California. Two years prior, I helped two friends abort their pregnancies; I found a doctor willing to perform (then) illegal abortions and borrowed the money from a relative. I had nothing to do with creating these pregnancies; but in my mind, there was no higher value than having your friends’ backs. I did what I believed needed to be done. When I met Jesus, He did not condemn me for what I had done in 1968. It did not come up at all for a few weeks.
In a Holy Spirit show of irony, this hippy (me) was led into one of the most traditional and structured denominations; they even practiced “going to confession.” When I asked the pastor what I should do next – as a new member with no previous experience of church – he told me to show up for confession the coming Saturday. When I asked how I should prepare – seeing as how I lacked even a grasp of what might be called sin – he told me to write down everything I could think of in my past that might stand between me and God. He said I should include even the apparently trivial, and then he said something I thought odd but encouraging. He said if some sinful incident came to mind after my confession, I was not to worry about it; if the Lord had wanted me to deal with it, then He would have brought it up in time for the confession.
I was surprised at how much I remembered of clearly out-of-bounds behavior, even to someone as clueless as myself; I had a laundry list by the time I got into that little booth I had only seen in movies before. Midway through the exercise, I heard a voice as clear as my own saying, “Don’t forget the abortions.” There was no condemnation of me as a murderer of the unborn; neither were excuses offered on account of my ignorance. There was only the instruction. I walked out of that confessional convinced of two things. Abortion is murder – the unjustified killing of a human being – and I dare not condemn those who have done what I did; I must speak the truth about this heinous act in love and humility.