Abortion is about as polarizing an issue as we have in the United States. On one side are the pro-life advocates seeking to protect those who are alive in the womb and unable to defend or speak for themselves. On the other side are the pro-abortion advocates who consider abortion nothing more than a women’s health issue and a choice to be made; the fetus is not living and therefore is not entitled to protection. Because we are so polarized over this issue, the American abortion dialogue has, to a large extent, declined into a miry pit of mudslinging and name-calling on both sides of the argument. The issue gets lost in the personalities of those discussing it as the waters are muddied with personal attacks. This is unfortunate. Such a dialogue plays right into the hands of the pro-abortion crowd while innocent children continue to die.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 18% of pregnancies in 2009 were terminated through abortion (227 abortions for every 1,000 live births). In total, 784,507 lives were terminated by abortion providers in 2009. This is the most recent year for which the CDC has published such statistics. While these are sobering statistics, they also report that the abortion rate steadily declined from 2000 through 2009; a small silver lining perhaps, but for those whose lives were taken, a tragedy nonetheless. (source: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/#Abortion)
I am a pro-life advocate. Like other pro-life advocates I believe abortion on demand is a sin and an American travesty. Unfortunately, our message is too often lost in the delivery. Many of us on the pro-life side of this issue profess to be Christians. Why is it, then, that we often tend to leave our Christianity at the door when we embark on a discussion of abortion? How would Jesus handle such a discussion?
I believe the answer to this question can be found in a real-life encounter Jesus had with a woman in Samaria:
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” ~ John 4:7-26
Jesus exhibits several traits in this encounter that we modern-day Christians would be wise to emulate – not just in a discussion on abortion, but in any circumstance in which we encounter sin:
- Jesus addresses her directly and with respect. Although He knows what she’s done, He doesn’t look down His nose at her, nor does He speak to her in a demeaning tone. He speaks to her as One who loves her.
- Jesus is honest with her. As He talks with her about her marital history, 5 husbands and all, He does so in a no-nonsense manner but in a manner in which His message is crystal clear.
- Jesus never puts her on the defensive. He listens and answers her questions. At no time does He call her names, belittle her, or send her on a guilt trip.
- Jesus tells the woman who He is. After this scene the woman leaves the well and heads into town proclaiming that she has met the Messiah!
Now fast-forward to 2013. A pro-abortion advocate tells us how shortsighted and selfish we are. He proclaims that we pro-lifers hate women because we want them to resort to coat-hanger abortions in back alleys. She calls us male pro-lifers a bunch of chauvinistic pigs that care nothing about women’s health. They say that science teaches that the fetus in the womb is nothing but a mass of cells, no different than a tumor. Of course, none of these things are true. But as they malign us for standing on our faith as we advocate our pro-life position, how do we respond?
Our response can either contribute to the polarization, thereby impeding the advancement of our cause, or it can be a tool through which, one by one, we may persuade the pro-abortion advocate to understand our position and perhaps even come to embrace it alongside us. If we call them murderers, sluts and whores are we emulating our Lord? If we bomb abortion clinics, as some have done, do we really expect to win them over? Do we have any chance whatsoever at persuading them to change their minds through such discourse and action? Of course not! Such rhetoric and action backs them into a corner as it fuels their anger. Instead of gaining ground we lose it as they point to us and call us a bunch of judgmental hypocrites. When we respond in this manner, they have a point. And when respond in this manner, we galvanize their position even as our behavior disappoints our Lord.
What if we approached the pro-abortion advocate with the same traits Jesus exhibited at the well in Samaria? What if we treated him with dignity and respect, even if he hurls vile accusations our way? What if we share our position honestly and respectfully, with an attitude of love? What if we are careful not to attack her personally as we speak against abortion, instead being sure to focus only on the issue and not on the messenger? What if we speak honestly about the sin and God’s offer of forgiveness through His Son? I am convinced that a unified pro-life message articulated in this manner would one day turn the tide and ultimately lead to legislation that would, once and for all, protect the preborn from dying in her mother’s womb at the hands of an abortionist.
Abortionists took 784,507 lives in 2009; that is an average of 2,149 lives each and every day. This is a moral travesty that we Americans must address with a sense of urgency. If we pro-lifers continue to allow the discussion to reside in the dark reaches of human depravity, we will never win the battle for these precious children. Let us instead resolve to stand firmly on God’s Word with the same attitude of love and respect that Jesus showed the woman in Samaria. It’s not just a recommendation; it’s a command:
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Matthew 12:28-31
My Prayer This Evening: Dear Heavenly Father, my heart aches for the children whose lives have been taken through abortion. I pray that you would move our nation to an attitude of confession and repentance. Help me, Lord, to advocate for these children out of Christian love for them and for those who are considering abortion. Guard my mind and my tongue, Lord, as I seek to glorify Your Son in all that I do. It is in His name I pray, AMEN.