I started volunteering because I wanted to do anything that would help to save pre-born children from abortion.
When I asked, “What do you think about abortion?” for the first time, I only hoped I could remember what I was supposed to say next. I wanted to say something that would catch their attention, resonate, or convict.
I’ve been volunteering for a couple years now. I’ve listened and learned, had lots of opportunities to put pro-life apologetics into practice and gained some insight on the other side of the abortion debate. Conversations on abortion still aren’t easy, but generally I now know what I want to say and where I want the conversation to go.
I look to meet the person I’m talking with where they’re at, to understand the concerns they have and why they believe certain circumstances justify abortion. Then I want to draw a parallel for them. What is the difference between facing that difficulty while pregnant versus as the parent of a born child? Why do they think killing the child would be a viable solution in one case but not in the other? Finally, I want to appeal to human rights and ask if every human shouldn’t be equally protected.
That’s my goal.
But lately, I’ve been trying to think even more specifically. I want to approach each conversation, not only with the end goal in mind, not only with a clear understanding of the apologetics and the framework, but with an understanding of the why behind each step as well.
My goal hasn’t changed – I still want to save babies. Neither has the practical approach – I hold signs showing abortion victim photography and use well-tested, pro-life apologetics. But I’m looking for the whys behind what I’ve been saying and so far, I’ve boiled it down to two purposes I want to keep in mind while walking someone through a conversation about abortion.
Purpose #1: Turn their gaze
What am I hoping to accomplish when I listen to the other person’s arguments? Why do I need to find common ground for every circumstance they present? What do I hope to change in their thinking or get them to understand?
Charles Spurgeon, a man known as the ‘Prince of Preachers’ said, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.”
I know from experience that this is true of me and in conversation I’ve found it to be true of those I am talking to as well.
Our attention is naturally focused on our problems and trying to find solutions for them. But when we zoom in so much on the trial it is easy to lose sight of everything else.
There is good in every difficulty, but can those I’m talking to see it?
I listen to the problems they have faced, the circumstances which daunt them, and the arguments which seem reasonable to them because I want to understand. I want to see what they are looking at.
I start with common ground because I agree that many of the problems they bring up are extremely difficult. I know, at times, I too have looked at the trials in my life so long and hard that I’ve forgotten the blessings which were also there. I want the person I’m talking to, to know it’s not just them, but both of us, who need to be reminded to engrave our blessings in stone and allow the trials to be written in the sand because, in the end, these trials are temporary.
Finally, I want to show them the blessing they have overlooked. I want them to understand that God can turn bad things into good, to pause and consider that crisis pregnancy is not just a difficulty, but a miracle – the beginning of their child’s life.
Purpose #2: Use my words as a window
Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist who now advocates for preborn children, wrote. “Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows.”
With ultrasound technology we’ve been given the great privilege of being able to look into the womb. We have those windows, as it were, but our society is refusing to see. The people around us have pulled down the blinds and fastened the shutters because they don’t want to behold the little human who is being knit together inside the womb.
So, what can we do?
Well, if we’ve been successful in purpose #1 and been able to persuade someone to take their eyes off the problems they’ve been focused on, we’ll have the wonderful opportunity to open the window and ask them to look at who’s inside.
What I can’t do, there on the street, is roll out an ultrasound machine. Still, I have pictures and I have a voice.
I find it helpful to think of my words as the window.
Can I speak with enough clarity for them to see? Can I remind the person in front of me of the value they never had to earn? Can I plead for the preborn child the right all humans deserve?
The next time you head out on the street, or sit down to dinner, and start a conversation about abortion I’d encourage you to remember: we want to encourage people not to engrave their trials in marble. Instead, we need to redirect their eyes onto the blessing before it is washed away by the waves which lap upon the sand. We want our words to show each person the preborn child hidden in the womb, before they are no longer there.