We’re in trouble. There’s no denying it. America is at a crossroads—standing at the edge of a cliff, trying to decide which angle of descent is less catastrophic. The pro-life movement is at a crossroads, too. The Supreme Court’s Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt decision dealt a huge blow to the movement’s legislative strategy and emboldened the culture of death. Abortion rights advocates, from the average abortion-rights feminist all the way up to Cecile Richards herself, are gleefully salivating over the opportunity to dismantle decades-worth of state-level abortion restrictions. Granted, we’ve participated in this maddening political back-and-forth for the last 50 years. But this time is different, and we all feel it.
The masks have finally come off.
The days of “safe, legal, and rare” have morphed into “Care. No matter what.” The battle is no longer framed as pro-life versus pro-choice. It’s woman versus fetus. This means abortion must be readily available, for any reason, at any time. And it means the personhood of an unborn human depends solely on whether someone defines her as a person, whether it’s her mother, a judge, a lab technician, or someone on Facebook.
Critical questions abound right now: Which way should the pro-life movement go? What is the best way to change hearts and minds? How can we truly heal our broken culture and make abortion unthinkable? “The movement is growing,” we hear. “The Church is waking up!” It sounds exciting, but what exactly does that mean? Consider this:
It’s one thing for the Church to wake up. But it’s completely another for individual Christians to clean out their lives and put their focus on God so revival can come.
Revival in the culture always comes after reformation in the individual, and reformation in the individual always comes after alignment with the truth. When we choose to open ourselves to truth, a powerful thing happens. Our minds get renewed. Our hearts get freed up, and our thinking and behavior transforms. So what is this powerful truth at the core of the Christian pro-life movement? This:
Every human life is valuable, from fertilization to the last breath, because every life is created by God for a specific purpose.
To bring about an authentic spiritual revival in America (which we very much need) and to turn broken hearts toward God (which He very much desires), we must re-align ourselves with this sanctity of life principle and seek deeper understanding about the spiritual battle between life and death. Fortunately, there are three practical things we can do right now to get started:
- Be responsible.
- Be reasonable.
- Be ready.
There is great power in truth, and as Christians, we have been given authority to speak it (Matthew 16:19). That means we are responsible for holding it in high regard. When we stand on the side of truth—and we do—there is no room to exaggerate it, misrepresent it, take it out of context, or be ignorant of it. It requires us to educate ourselves, ask bold questions, change our assumptions, and honor the great responsibility we have to carry it into the next generation.
But we must first know what the truth is in order to bring real solutions to a broken world.
Many good-intentioned, good-hearted pro-lifers mishandle the truth because they’re simply not informed or they’re just sick and tired of fighting the same fight. This is often revealed in careless mis-quotes, inflammatory social media posts, faulty statistics, and questionable sources. We’ve all passed along “gotcha” stories and memes to express our shock, anger, and disgust at the injustice of abortion. We’ve even shared things that undermine the very truth we stand for. This can be greatly damaging to the movement and the authority of the Church. Drive-by headlines and inflated rhetoric exist just as much in the conservative media as they do in the mainstream. And the echo chamber surrounding the pro-life movement is very big and very loud.
This statistic is an overestimation of abortion numbers at their peak
26 years ago (1990). Why not use current information?
Except that life begins at conception. Why give this ground?
This is a fake photograph of a speech Margaret Sanger did actually give to the KKK in 1926. Why corrupt a fact?
As you can begin to see just from these few examples, it’s important that we pause, inform ourselves, and then seek out and share good information—with each other and with others that don’t yet understand the truth about life. Here’s how we can learn to discern:
- Use memes that have current, cited sources and/or represent an appropriate Christian response
- Use memes with bold truths that invite positive conversations, not responses as ugly as the message
- In articles, look for bias in word choice and use of sources.
- Consider how the bias we find might impact the information we’re consuming.
- Question whether something seems valid and reasonable or just confrontational.
- Question whether the tone is meant change someone’s heart or chastise them.
- Consider possible counter-arguments and play devil’s advocate.
- Check facts and sources before we pass something on.
- When sharing information, call out the gaps we find and inspire others to think more deeply.
- Seek out information and ask thoughtful questions to fill those gaps for ourselves.
Yes, these things require effort. But if we’re not willing to take the time to build our defense of life on a solid foundation, perhaps we should consider what it is that we’re actually building. If we’re in for the long haul, then these things are critical in steering the movement forward with integrity. This is true not only for the information itself, but also for the way we deliver it.
In 2 Timothy 2:14-26, Paul writes at length about the importance of correctly handling the truth, being unashamed of it, avoiding destructive chatter, and resisting quarrels. He writes this as a precursor to his warning about godlessness in the last days, when people are lovers of themselves, boastful, without self-control, brutal, and unforgiving (2 Timothy 3:1-5). And of most significance, he writes this in his last letter, from a Roman dungeon shortly before his execution. It seems his warning is important. He admonishes us to gently instruct people so they can come to their senses and literally “escape the trap of the devil who has taken them captive to do his will.”
Wow… This is the Biblical definition of tolerance!
And it flies in the face of the cultural one.
Amidst chaos and darkness, we need to actually listen and try to understand people, be respectful and gentle, but be unashamed to speak truth with the hope that their hearts will change. This is difficult, to be sure, particularly in the world of 140-character tirades, but it’s so crucial that we do it. When we deliver the beautiful message about God’s design in an ugly way, we can actually impede the work Holy Spirit wants to do in a person’s life.
Which means our defensiveness in the defense of life doesn’t bring life at all; in fact, it can bring death.
True, but why bring a post-abortive woman shame,
instead of an invitation for forgiveness?
This is quite a claim. Why not open the door to help an abortionist or staff member leave the industry instead?
Sadly, as these examples show, we can start to become those judgmental Christians the world holds up all the time as a reason not to know God. But the good news is we can change that. Here’s what we can do in person and on social media to show Biblical tolerance in a constant barrage of intolerance:
- Ask for and respectfully consider others’ viewpoints and experiences.
- Recognize that vitriol and disrespect coming at us is a signal that deep hurt is there.
- Really listen to what people have to say; don’t just wait to speak or type.
- Ask pointed questions that challenge them to specifically articulate their beliefs.
- Gently confront inconsistencies, which they may not be aware of.
- Restate what they said or wrote, question it, and then ask them to clarify.
- Never name-call, demean, or belittle.
- Know when to move on from a person who shuts down or continues to be abusive.
The goal here is to speak truth in love to those who are willing to hear it. So naturally, we need to be ready to do that.
1 Peter 3:15 challenges us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, to be prepared to speak truth in situations we encounter every day. Said another way: We need to be ready to discern how God wants to use us, and then go stand in that place. So, how exactly do we do that? Here’s a start:
- Intentionally seek a closer, more meaningful relationship with God so we can partner with Him.
- Recognize that our ability to love others comes directly from the depth of this relationship.
- Reduce the noise around us so we can listen and hear God’s voice.
- Educate ourselves, not just on facts and figures, but on the bigger picture.
- Seek context, dig into history, and develop a spiritual perspective around life issues.
- Know what the Word of God says about life, marriage, and family, and pursue deeper understanding.
- Reflect on what our own gifts and talents are and how we can uniquely stand for life.
Times of persecution have begun, and we need to be that remnant God is seeking—the ones left standing (Ephesians 6:13). As believers, we have the capacity to demonstrate a glorious, freedom-bringing truth in the way we live our lives. When we carry the sanctity of life principle honestly, gently, and uncompromisingly into a broken and battered world, we have the power to shift the debate from abortion rights to human rights. And we can finally be free to address the devaluing of human life as an issue of the heart.
The truth really does matter. In Paul’s last days, as in ours, it’s all that matters.
Sarah Quale, SpeakLife president and founder
SpeakLife provides online courses that equip pro-life Christians to be responsible, reasonable, and ready as we engage our culture today. Our free, 10-minute introductory course helps you take that first step.
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