In his book, Apologetics for a New Generation, Sean McDowell tells the story of a young woman studying at a Midwestern college who told him of the time when she found out she was pregnant on a Monday, and on that Friday she had an abortion. She is a Christian. Her parents would have adopted the child. Her boyfriend would have married her. But in her mind at the time it just seemed like it was best that she go ahead with her abortion. Now, however, she is wondering if she was mistaken to think that the unborn is not a person. And she asked McDowell, “What’s the best case you can make to me that the unborn is a person?”
McDowell notes that this woman needed to hear the case against abortion, and that she wanted to hear the case against it. Each year 1.2 million unborn children in America are killed by abortion, just like her child. God values every human being, so caring for each of these is one of the highest priorities for a healthy Christian.
Some might believe that it is best for the church not to talk about such a controversial issue. But right now EVERYBODY is talking about it. I read in today’s newspaper that our state’s governor will veto any legislative attempt to restrict abortion choices, and our state’s attorney general has vowed that she will never prosecute anyone for choosing to abort their baby even if it is breaking the law. On Facebook it is common to see memes that say something to the effect, “Don’t mix your religion with my politics.” As if I am somehow out of line and unreasonable if I believe that my faith should inform my political choices about this subject….
I want to be clear: The church—YOU, follower of Jesus—needs to speak up regarding this issue. I’m not saying that Christians should get argumentative and obnoxious, but that followers of Jesus need to engage people (even those who disagree with you) in thoughtful conversation about the Biblical and scientific fact that the unborn are human life worthy of love and nurture. Dialogue on the issue of abortion is a bridge to discussing spiritual truths that can help people draw close to the God who loves them.
Discussing whether abortion is right or wrong leads to questions that matter to us as Christians: Do human beings have special value? All human beings or only some? Is God the one who gives us value, or is that left up to each individual to decide? Can we make moral claims about how other people should act? What kind of thing is a human being? Do humans sin? How can we find healing when we do sin? Discussing these kinds of questions can be helpful when we are willing to listen to the other person even if we disagree in the end.
Being willing to engage in conversation about an issue as tough as abortion can also establish common ground by clearing up common misconceptions. For example, many think that abortion is usually in response to difficult situations like rape or incest, or because the mother’s life is in danger. In truth, most abortions are much more ordinary. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the top three reasons given by women for their abortions is “they were not ready for a child” (25 percent), they couldn’t afford a baby now” (23 percent), and they said they “had completed their childbearing” (19 percent). As can be seen, these aren’t the hard cases most people are so concerned about when they want to keep abortion legal (rape, incest, or the mother’s life). That’s not to say that reasons like “I can’t afford a baby right now” are petty. They aren’t. We can sympathize with that, but at the same time, we would all agree that not having enough money is not a good reason for killing someone, say a toddler, for instance.
Perhaps you feel that the abortion debate is too combative to get involved with, but do you know what the debate needs? It needs ordinary people like you and me who are passionate about the unborn AND about the people they engage. If we listen with humility, make a reasonable case with confidence, and find common ground as much as we can, people who disagree will engage us with interest…and maybe God can use that to change hearts and minds.
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