All the women in your life have to be 80 years old or more to have gone through their child-bearing years during a time when abortion was not legal and accessible. Among the rest, 42% of American women have had one abortion by the age of 45 (abandoned or pressured, by and large, by men). There are 50 million abortions every year worldwide. The USA represents less than 3% of this. Where we gather college students and young professionals together to challenge them with the gospel, close to half of them are struggling secretly with this one particular form of guilt.

Our generation needs a gospel presentation that address the blood-guilt of abortion specifically and openly as a gospel issue. To view abortion as a secondary, or worse, a political issue is to fundamentally misunderstand the defining experience of our times. Imagine preaching the gospel in the town of Dacau in the 40’s and intentionally avoiding, rather than pressing head-on, as to how the gospel addresses the sin of shedding innocent blood. Our silence would be interpreted to mean that it is outside the reach of what the gospel offers. Imagine sharing Christ in a hospital full of soldiers, some missing eyes, others arms, and never mentioning the part of the gospel that promises new bodies. Imagine preaching Christ at a funeral and never mentioning the hope of resurrection.

If you care about the primacy of the gospel and have a passion for missions, I beg you to stop seeing abortion as a secondary issue. Understand that it is the primary mark of this generation. And understand the anguish it causes. It is a megaphone of endless Satanic accusation. It snaps the tendons of spiritual effort and risk. The blood-guilt of abortion festers under the surface of all Christian endeavor. It needs lancing. It needs to be outed. It needs to be called out by name, confessed by name, and brought under a gospel that declares that there is no forgiveness for the shedding of innocent blood except by the shedding of innocent blood. Our generation needs to hear explicitly that the blood of Christ cleanses us from acts that lead to death, even and explicitly, abortion, “that we might serve the living God” (Heb 9:11).

This article originally appeared on DesiringGod.org on February 25, 2011.