Recently, I had the opportunity to stand before a church and offer encouragement from God’s Word to women who may have experienced abortion. I shared, “There is healing and forgiveness in Christ for abortion as there is for all of our sins. Cling to the cross of Christ and know that in Christ, you are accepted and blameless. You do not have to live in shame or be crippled by guilt.” Several people came up afterward to thank me for the encouragement; of these, some of the first were men who had encouraged, sanctioned or paid for an abortion. As they expressed their gratitude and relief, it struck me that we rarely talk about the effect abortion has on men — or the possibility of marriage as a response to crisis pregnancies. Abortion advocates would have you believe pregnancy involves just one person — the woman. Pro-lifers, on the other hand, nearly always point out that there are two lives involved: that of the mother and that of the child. But what even most of us in the pro-life movement often miss is that there are, in fact, three people involved in a pregnancy: a man, a woman and child. Perhaps one of the great silent crises of the sexual revolution and the permissive abortion culture in America is the loss of countless fathers who might have become husbands if given the chance. Of course, not all men are prepared for the responsibility of marriage, and the call to marriage in out-of-wedlock pregnancies is not a one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, if abuse exists in any form in the relationship, then pregnancy does not automatically bind a woman to the father of her child, and never should. Nevertheless, the overwhelming picture for out-of-wedlock births is not one of avoiding abuse but rather one of devaluing marriage. Nearly half of the never-married women who seek abortions are in a long-term relationship with the man with whom they are pregnant, and nearly 30 percent of them are cohabiting. These men are not strangers. They’re already an important part of these mothers’ lives, living in a pseudo-married relationship, yet avoiding all of the responsibility and the blessing of a committed marriage relationship. These are men living irresponsibly but have the potential to become invaluable, permanent helpmates to women facing unexpected pregnancies — and they should be encouraged to do so. As the people of God, we must point them to the God-honoring sanctity of marriage. Marriage must be treated as a legitimate, expected response to an unexpected child. While this can be a controversial idea that many will dismiss as old-fashioned or out of touch, I believe that our loss of respect for marriage is at the heart of the crisis of “daddy wounds” that we see in the fatherless generations of the late-20th and 21st centuries. Even in the church, we have begun to give up on marriage and mimic the culture we inhabit in a devastating way. We know that God’s intent in marriage is straightforward and clear. God created man for woman, woman for man, and, in turn, their union in marriage establishes a family in which children can flourish. We see this intention first expressed in Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Then in Genesis 2, God himself institutes marriage. Marriage is central to God’s design. We know the Lord intended children to find their identity in a family. It is written into creation itself. That’s why facilitating the development and empowerment of American families is an essential part of our post-Roe response. Essentially, if women are to take these men as husbands and form strong families, men must learn to treat women with respect. We must teach boys that women are equally sacred persons created in the very image of God. We must teach the meaning, gravity and true joy of sex. In short, we must prepare boys for marriage. Perhaps the most daunting challenge is how few men have learned the biblical roles of husband and father firsthand. Tragically, few men are prepared for fatherhood or marriage, and they have little to no older male influence to teach them. Compounding the devastation, men who would make good husbands are cut out of the relationship or excluded from the decision-making process about their own child’s life. They are condemned to a life of shame and guilt at worst, and ignorance at best. In such difficult times, how do we proceed? It’s time to revive a holistic, family-centered approach to our pro-life culture, one that necessarily involves and uplifts men, in addition to women and children. Good men will make good fathers — and husbands, if we let them, if we teach them, and if we challenge them. Godly men will change the lives of the women they marry and the children they raise. In time, they might even change our culture. But they can only do so if marriage is understood, by them and by women, as a legitimate response to an unexpected child. It’s time to take our families seriously. We must not fail to consider marriage as a response to crisis pregnancy. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.