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Cynthia:

During Bible times, certain people around Israel worshiped the God Moloch.  He had the head of a cow and extended arms. During worship, the people would heat him up until he was really, really hot with a fire.  And when it became very hot, they would place an infant in his arms.  And they would watch while the child burned.

Can you imagine that?  It’s a horrible picture and some scholars believe people might have been worshiping a demon at the time that they were doing this.

Obviously, it shows no value whatsoever for human life if someone is willing to watch their child being burned. But when you think of human sacrifice like this, I sometimes wonder if these children were sacrificed because they were the products of immorality.

Which was a natural outcome of sleeping around. So, today we’re going to be talking about moving forward after an abortion.

That was then, this is now, because there are lots of women who have done it and then have had lots of consequences after having done it.

I’m going to be talking to Camille Cates, and she’s been working in post abortion counseling for over 20 years. She had her own abortion as well.

Welcome, Camille.

Camille:

Hi, Cynthia. Thank you for having me.

Cynthia:

Okay, can you tell us your story as to why you even had an abortion?

Well, I grew up in the church. And heard about Jesus from the time I was little. Mom was a preschool teacher, the preschool director in our church. She was always talking about Bible stories, like using the flannel graph for those of us that remember those days.

And I just, I always thought that those people were really superheroes of the faith. But when we look in scripture, Cynthia, so many of them had their own struggles.  And choices and yet the Lord reached into their lives and shown himself and extended grace and mercy. We know that comes through Christ.

But I didn’t really come to know who Jesus was as my personal Lord and savior until I was about 12 years old at a youth camp. And I heard the gospel for the first time, and it really hit home that it was for me.  And so, I received Christ.  I have no doubt about that experience because there was a love and a gratitude for him for covering my sins.

I went home from that camp experience, there wasn’t a lot of discipleship after that with my parents.  I just kind of went back into living. I went through middle school watching relationships develop between guys and girls. And they got to high school and entered dating relationships on my own.

In that period of dating, I really began to become pressured for sexual activity.

Cynthia, I’ve worked with young people for over 20 years and  a lot of them are not being discipled at home. They’re just kind of trying to navigate relationships on their own. A lot of young women don’t really know what to do or are taught what to do, under that pressure.

I succumbed to the pressure to become sexually active. And then after that, I became pregnant.  And I remember being scared to tell my parents who were professing believers about my pregnancy. But my mom came to me, and she really shocked me when she asked me, “Camille, do you want to have an abortion?”

My parents were very involved in church. We were there a lot. I was really surprised.  I knew that I should not have been having sex outside of marriage, but I knew abortion was wrong. At the time I told her, I said, “Mom, I know I don’t want to have an abortion. This is my baby. I want to keep this baby.”

She said, “Well, we’ll support you.”

And they did very faithfully. My church was very supportive and loving. So just a few months after I graduated from high school, I had my daughter Lauren. My mom was really worried about me continuing my education.

They really pressured me to start college.

Two weeks after my daughter was born, I started college full time, and I worked two part time jobs and then living in their home with their support. I was doing okay. I’d gotten back into church. But I still didn’t have that discipleship or mentoring on relationships.

Cynthia, the Bible says that for lack of knowledge, my people perish. When we don’t have that knowledge, we kind of keep making the same choices. And that’s what I did. I ended up getting into another relationship. We became sexually active, and I became pregnant again very quickly.

We didn’t know quite what we would do. We talked about possibly having an abortion, possibly getting married and having the baby.  I actually became engaged. Then my parents found out about this pregnancy and the pressure to have an abortion continued.

There were a lot of doubts. How would that be fair to my daughter? We were young, but neither one of us had full time careers yet. We were trying to figure things out. So unfortunately, we never got to that decision together because something tragic happened.

I was working one of my part time jobs one night. My mom came up to my work and she said, “Camille, you must come to the hospital. Something happened to Lauren.”

I was upset, closed up shop, went to the hospital. And through the course of the evening, we found out that my boyfriend had sexually assaulted and shaken my daughter to death.

She was on life support. She had machines keeping her lungs going and her heart beating, but she was legally brain dead.  The doctors ended up turning off the machines and she was, she was gone.

We hadn’t even hit the parking lot at the hospital before my parents were saying, “Camille, you have to have an abortion now you can’t go through with this.”

I was really wrestling with the Lord.  God, I know this is wrong. I know I shouldn’t do this, but I I’m unique. I began to believe the lies about my situation and that it was unique. And God, please, if there’s any way, will you make this right?

I fooled myself into thinking abortion was the right course of action.

Four days after we buried my daughter, I ended up having an abortion. After that, my life just spiraled downward.

I was really drowning in depression and despair and, I felt so far from God. In God’s mercy, he reached into my heart a couple of years after the abortion and brought me back to himself.

He used a godly man in my life.  I’d grown up with him in church. He was headed into youth ministry. and just graduated seminary. He was looking for a, a church to serve in.

And he shared with me one night that he had feelings for me.  And I thought he does not know. We grew up together. He knows what happened with Lauren, but he doesn’t know about the abortion. He’s going into youth ministry, and he doesn’t need to be with a girl like me.

And I think he sensed my hesitation because he looked me in the eyes and he said, “Camille, I know about your abortion, and I love you anyway.”

It really shook me, and I didn’t know how to respond. I left. I said, “Okay, well, I’ve got to go.” And I left for the evening and on my way home, I just had an overwhelming sense of the gospel come to me afresh.

Here was this young youth pastor. He was a virgin and yet he wanted to be with somebody like me. And it really is a picture of the gospel that God is holy. He’s pure and perfect, but we’re all sinners. We’ve all fallen short, whether it’s an abortion or a little white lie or anything else. All of the sin sent Christ to the cross.

To know that he was holy, and he sent his son so that he could be with me anyway, because he loves me, that was that picture. And my life really changed its trajectory at that point. I ended up marrying that young man. We’ve been married now for 28 years and serving the Lord, faithfully sharing the hope and help that the gospel of Jesus Christ has to offer others.

Cynthia:

What kind of guilt feelings did you have afterwards?  How did you feel about what you had done? Did you see a baby after it was aborted?

Camille:

I think I had an uncommon. experience. I was about 10 to 11 weeks gestation at the time of my abortion. After the abortion experience, the nurse came to me and said, “Do you want to see your baby?”

And Cynthia still don’t know to this day why she asked that other than in God’s sovereign plan. He wanted me to see the life of my baby and what had been done. And so I saw this tiny little baby in this kind of Petri dish. The body was severed in two.

There are a lot of feelings that women experience after an abortion. Guilt is one of them. Shame. I think is another depression, a lot of grieving. Yet you can’t grieve this baby because you’re the one that took this baby’s life.

You have no right to grieve. Yet we should grieve what God grieves over and God grieves the loss of the life of an image bearer.  I was also. , wrapped up in a lot of grief from the traumatic experience that had happened before. And there’s really a misnomer in our culture. That the woman who has an abortion is a young promiscuous woman who’s had sex and she shouldn’t have.

And now she’s dealing with the consequences of that. And in my experience of counseling with women for over 20 years, that’s just simply not true. That happens. But it’s more of an exception than the rule. There are a lot of women who are married who maybe their husband’s committed adultery.

They’re pregnant. He wants to leave. He wants an abortion and pressures for that.  I worked with a woman. One time she had an abortion, or she was, engaged and her fiancé was killed in a car accident. She was pregnant with his baby, and she didn’t know what to do. She ended up having an abortion.

True guilt and shame come along with a sin choice. There are a lot of other complexities that surround that. And what cripples women and men who have participated in abortion and shame is fear and condemnation. Not knowing that God is merciful and loving and gracious and compassionate and kind.

And then he shows us that through the cross of Christ. He sent his son for that, for us to be healed to experience that biblical healing. So that’s what I share. When I share my story,

Cynthia:

I think back to the story of the people that were offering children to Molech. I just wonder if watching that, which would be even more graphic than seeing your baby cut in half, if they felt guilt or, or if they hated themselves for what they did.

Camille:

The Bible says that we loathe ourselves. for our idolatrous worship.  I think, not only the women, but the men, those men that fathered those children. It was the fathers that were the ones that were placing their children in the hands of the, the idol to be, to be burned for whatever gain, they thought that they would be getting.

God gave his one and only son as a sacrifice. The enemy’s real twisting that to somehow get us to believe that if we sacrifice our children, that we’re going to be prosperous.

That lie from the Old Testament carries over, I think, in abortion today, which is, what you’re hitting on. It’s a real redemptive view when we sit there and think about how God sacrificed  his one and only son for us. We don’t need to sacrifice our own children.

He is the provider. He’ll help us.

Cynthia:

So. If a person has had an abortion, who can they turn to? Who is a safe person?

Camille:

A good pastor who loves the Lord will be compassionate and gracious and listen and know where to point to in scripture.

A biblical counselor who is compassionate but will be able to speak the truth in love.

Share with a woman or a trusted Christian friend and, and don’t, don’t negate those, those good friends.

I remember the first time I ever shared with a friend about my abortion experience. I was terrified. I was shaking. I, I thought she’s going to think so many awful things about me. And. When I shared with her, she cried with me. And it actually, Cynthia, I found over the years, even though women haven’t experienced maybe an abortion, something about the pain, whether we have done it to ourselves, or it’s been done to us, really opens up, the ability for conversation, good conversation.

And in that sharing with my friend, she was able to share with me about abuse that she had experienced in her family for years. As a child. And so just that vulnerability and transparency can bring a lot of healing. I love James 5:16, because it says that we need to confess our sins one to another and pray for each other, that we might be healed for the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Find somebody that you can trust. That’s a strong Christian.

Cynthia:

So, did it help to tell it to somebody?

Camille:

Once I was able to really process that with the Lord, I was working through a Bible study with another abortive woman and having the conversation with somebody who had walked in my shoes.

She had already gone through a lot of biblical passages that helped her that she could share with me and help me. And it kind of hits on that passage in first Corinthians. It talks about God being the God of all comfort and that we can comfort others with a comfort we ourselves have received first. So really working with her was very helpful.

Cynthia:

Did you worry about God punishing you?

Camille:

I did.

I think a lot of women and men sometimes have that fear of, I’ve taken the life of an image bearer of God.  Even as Christians and knowing that God forgave me for that sin, just thinking of the consequences in terms of punishment and not really understanding that in Christ, there is no condemnation. I feared that he would not let me become pregnant again.

If I did become pregnant, something might happen to that baby. And that just negates the truth that our punishment for sin fell upon Christ on the cross. And so Isaiah 53 says that he took on that punishment. for us. I think that really helps those who are struggling with believing that God is somehow going to cause retribution against them for their abortion.

That that’s not true.  That he loves us, that he wants restoration and healing for us.

Cynthia:

So, were you able to get pregnant?

Camille:

I was, I have a friend who aborted the only baby she ever conceived. And she, she was not able to become pregnant again.

We have two biological children. And then we have a little girl that we adopted from China. God even used my abortion experience to really put adoption on my heart. He restores. The Bible talks about restoring what the locusts have eaten, , and I really feel like he’s done that in my life.

Cynthia

What kind of feelings did you have to overcome in your heart?

Camille:

For me, it was a lot of anger and some of it was righteous anger.

I had been set up by my boyfriend. Then my parents and the pressure that they had really put on me.

And then there’s the abortion clinic staff. And so there can be a lot of anger when you reflect on that afterwards. I don’t excuse what I did and the sin that I made.

Cynthia:

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Camille:

I just want to encourage those who are struggling with an abortion in their past that there is hope.  There is help and that Christ is waiting with open arms to, to take you in and, and walk with you.

You can find Camille here.

 

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