Changing Abortion: Outside the Clinic, or In the Coffeeshop?
Recently a conversation turned to the subject of abortion, and the question was asked, what did I think about going to a clinic, and talking to women as they walked in? Without giving specific guidance, some questions come to mind that I hope give you clarity about how you might engage in a particular issue like abortion:
First, we should think about problems both systemically and atomistically. Systemic: what systems do you see that lead people to abortion? Who do you know that is presently “in” those systems? Atomistic, as in one, versus many: do you know a specific person who is considering an abortion? Then ask this question: is the gospel’s power to change this issue, more powerful a) on the sidewalk outside the clinic, or b) in the coffee shop, as we talk to a friend about Christ, and that conversation leads to systemic changes in belief and sexual behavior that divert them from the path to abortion?
Second: sometimes, emulating God means confronting and critiquing what is wrong in the world. This is the logic of the cross: God so loved the world, that he saw sin and said “This is wrong; I’m going to change that”, and gave His only Son. Our dual problem is that we love the world too little, and we know the “rewards” for confrontation and critique. Yes, sometimes we are ostracized because we are boorish - don’t do that. But sometimes ostracism comes because we are winsome and right. But love for God and his creation will involve being displeased at what defiles it, and saying so, and why. How do we confront and critique abortion, and the assumptions that undergird it? This is not easy, so we pray.
One way we can confront and critique is by asking questions, about how people came to their beliefs. I considered this while reading Founding Brothers, Joseph Ellis’ book about our nation’s founding fathers. Chapter 3, “The Silence”, describes the founding father’s silence on the issue of slavery, and the arguments that slavery defenders used to justify slavery. What struck me was how many of those arguments are used to defend abortion today: inalienable rights of the slave holder/mother; the slave/baby is not a person, or less of a human; the economic realities, etc. One wonders if Ellis himself noticed these parallels; he doesn’t say. Nevertheless, it can be very powerful to help others see their own fundamental assumptions, to point them to the brighter alternative of God and the gospel.