You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
The reversal of Roe versus Wade is a moment those of us who affirm the dignity, value, and worth of all human life from the moment of conception have prayed about for years. I unapologetically celebrate the fact that the Supreme Court chose to right an egregious injustice against pre-born humans, but simultaneously recognize the confusion and angst generated among many in our culture by this historic decision. I believe it is more important than ever for those with a Biblical worldview to advocate for the pro-life position in ways that preserve truth and shine the light of the gospel among those seeking to live within this new reality. I’d like to suggest four ways we can faithfully follow Jesus’ commandment to be salt and light as we engage with others on this divisive topic.
Look to the example of the early church.
I’ve watched as the church, the beloved bride of Christ, has been unfairly maligned and inaccurately represented in the days since the Supreme Court ruling. Many voices have accused the church of turning a blind eye to anything except life in the womb and challenged us to “step up and do something” in response to potential hardships created by the reversal of Roe. This ignores what the church has already been doing for decades. I’ve been in faith communities my whole life filled with people who advocate, work, give, and pray both individually and collectively for vulnerable and victimized women, men, and children at every stage of life and in every segment of society. The church will continue to do what it does best…serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world.
It’s easy to become angry when we are slandered, but the early church gives us a beautiful example to follow when we find ourselves under attack. The ethic of love taught by Jesus compelled the early believers to rescue discarded babies from trash heaps, elevate the status of women, and uphold the dignity of each of God’s image bearers. Despite these positive contributions, they were under unimaginable persecution from the Roman Empire. Ignatius was an early church father tried during the reign of Emperor Trajan on the charge of atheism for refusing to bow down to the pantheon of Roman gods. He was executed, most likely by being fed to wildcats in the Colosseum, but not before he penned these words to believers at the church in Ephesus on his way to trial in Rome:
Pray continually for the rest of humankind as well, that they may find God, for there is in them hope of repentance. Therefore allow them to be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. In response to their anger, be gentle; in response to their boasts, be humble; in response to their slander, offer prayers; in response to their errors, be steadfast in the faith; in response to their cruelty, be civilised; do not be eager to imitate them. Let us show by our forbearance that we are their brothers and sisters, and let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord.
Ignatius offered the antidote of gentleness, humility, prayer, steadfastness, and civility to counter the cruelty of his day. We, too, can instruct others by our deeds as we follow the example of the early church.
Contribute to clarity.
Meme culture has a way of presenting information that is overly simplified and designed to gain the most likes or shares. They are usually created for emotional impact and do not always present the most accurate picture of reality. I think there is wisdom in taking the time to carefully consider the arguments being represented before reflexively clicking the like or share button. This is probably even more important when the content represents our own point of view to ensure that we don’t fall prey to confirmation bias. Why do we feel compelled to share? Is it truthful? Is it accurate? Is it kind? Is it likely to change another person’s mind? Are we just seeking validation?
In my experience, most memes, or tweets, or clever quips present a caricatured version of a position, and do not really get to the heart of the issue. For this reason, I think they do more to muddy the waters and should be put to the test out of fairness to both sides. An emotionally charged issue like abortion requires even more scrutiny because it is simply too important and complex to be summed up in a social media rant, 280 character tweet, or meme. I once heard it said that you only truly understand another person’s position when you can articulate it back to them in a way with which they can agree. In other words, treat other people’s ideas the way you would want yours to be treated. Jesus, of course, said it best, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”(Luke 6:31)
Take aim at ideas and not people.
The world around us truly is a battlefield of ideas. Some lead to human flourishing, and some represent catastrophic landmines. John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, often says that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. Abortion has claimed over 63,000,000 innocent victims over the last five decades in the United States in addition to impacting the lives of survivors and pro-choice advocates. Ideological victims have bought into the deeply held convictions of the sexual revolution that have been promulgated for years. Abortion on demand is a bad idea with knots tied so tightly that it will take time and grace to untangle them.
As we untangle theses knots, we must recognize that other people are not our enemies. Rather, we all have a common enemy who captures hearts and minds with cleverly crafted deceptions. The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Paul admonishes us to aim carefully to destroy the lies holding our fellow image bearers captive. Firearms instructors encourage their students to “aim small, miss small” to increase the likelihood of hitting their intended target, but also to avoid hitting an unintended target. As we push back vigorously against false narratives, it is critical to make sure we are taking aim at ideas and not people so we don’t inflict further harm to those who are already hurting.
Present the pro-life case logically.
In the current emotionally charged environment surrounding abortion, it’s important to be able to offer a logically sound defense of the pro-life position. Jesus instructs His followers in Mark 12:30 to love God with our minds. He follows this up by saying we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We obey both of these commands when we learn to think through the issue of abortion rationally in order to have respectful discussions with those in our spheres of influence. Scott Klusendorf teaches prolifically on pro-life apologetics and offers this simple syllogism:
Premise 1: It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.
Premise 2: Abortion kills an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore abortion is wrong.
In order to defeat this argument, one must prove that at least one of the two premises is wrong. If that cannot be done, then the conclusion is valid. Klusendorf also offers this sixty second defense that is worth memorizing:
I am pro-life because the science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living and whole human being. You weren’t part of another human being like skin on the back of my hand; you were already a whole living member of the human family even though you had yet to mature.
There is no essential difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that somehow justifies killing you at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then but not now.
Now is the time for those with a Biblical worldview to rejoice over the reversal of Roe versus Wade as a very good, true, and beautiful gift from God. In His goodness God has granted dignity, value, and worth to each of His image bearers. The sanctity of life is a truth worth celebrating. Beautiful new lives will have the opportunity to draw their first breaths in a post Roe world.