Starting 2019 off in a controversial decision, the 46th anniversary of Roe vs Wade was passed with cheers of joy in New York as new abortion laws extended the window in which an abortion could now be legally obtained within this state. Extending a woman’s right to have an abortion into the 3rd trimester and striking abortion from the criminal code completely brings national attention to the debate over a woman’s right to choose and a baby’s right to live.
This debate is not going away any time soon, and nor do I think it should. The question for me as a Christian is to know the position I take, but not to stop there. How I will discuss and present this issue in front of a watching world is just as pertinent. Yes, I believe that babies in the womb are humans and their life deserves protection by the laws of our land. But, how I discuss this and what informs my position may be the keys to Christ-honoring discussions that actually make a difference.
Holding a position
When my kids were little and I wanted them to come to the table for dinner, I rarely made a big impression or difference on their decision to come to the table by adamantly and loudly repeating “dinner is served!!” They could quickly learn to drown out my loud voice or have it blend in with the other family noises in our home. My position that they must come to dinner was not what drew them or persuaded them to show up on time with hands washed.
I believe the same could be said for holding a position on protecting life in the womb – saying it loudly and adamantly may not get the results of change that we seek. Hold a position, but don’t expect the mere holding of it to change anyone’s mind.
Stating the position
Going back to my children coming to dinner, holding a position adamantly never helped if I stated my position over and over without any clear rationale. I could state that I wanted them to eat dinner right now – again, and again, and again – but it didn’t motivate them to consider how key my position was to their life. They just knew I had a strong opinion I liked to say over and over. They became desensitized to the message and were even more inspired to ignore me.
Same with our strongly held views on prenatal life – stating our position repeatedly may only deafen a world that doesn’t want to listen. Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Considering how we help people learn and not just listen and to engage in the discussion with us are key to furthering a constructive discussion on the challenging topic of life in the womb.
Explaining the position
What persuaded my children to come to dinner when I called was their understanding of why coming to dinner and doing it when I asked was crucial to them and our family. Knowing why it was good for them and good for our relationships encouraged them to look at dinner in a whole new light. It wasn’t just something to obey or do because I thought it was “right”; I equipped them with a rationale that made sense to them.
Again, same with our discussion regarding abortion. Why do we believe that abortion is wrong? And when is it wrong? And for whom is it wrong? And is it always wrong? These may seem obvious at first, but thinking deeper than an obvious answer will be more compelling to anyone we engage with than surface truths.
For me, this has lead to a deeper study and appreciation of what it means to be made in God’s image. Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” The theological understanding of what it means to be an image-bearer can be discussed across a historical landscape and with various understandings. Are we image bearers of God because we inherently are created with attributes that we alone in creation share with Him? Are we image bearers because our function is to carry out a God-given vocation of ruling and representing our creator? Or, are we image bearers because of our relational abilities, unique in creation in how we know, love and experience God and one another? Hopefully, this deeper theological thinking creates within myself an appreciation for the distinctiveness and preciousness of human life which in turn inspires me to engage in rationale and engaging conversations regarding the baby in the womb.
The “How” of the position
Last, but definitely, not least – how I speak of my position should always be leading by my Christian virtue. Even in hard conversations, consistently showing grace and the fruit of the Spirit is commanded.
- Colossians 4:6, “Your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
- Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such thing there is no law.”
Dear Reader, may our engagement with our culture over issues that hit at the very heart of our families, the very lives of our children, be productive in leading others to know their Creator God and to love Him with all their hearts. May we hold a position, state our position, explain our position and do so in winsome ways that capture the attention and heart of our listener to the glory of God.
Blessings on your life!
Fondly yours, Elizabeth