In most Christian circles abortion is thought of as a bad thing. I agree. But I'm not going to spend the next few paragraphs telling you why or trying to convince you to agree with me. We all know that enough cyberspace and oxygen are already devoted to that. What I'd like to do instead is talk about our - the Christians' - response to abortion, and why a lot of us are failing miserably at making a positive impact.
Before I continue I should emphasize that by no measure do I mean to make light of what is a very serious issue. If I seem flippant or as though I'm trivializing, then I apologize with all due sincerity. Abortion is a serious thing no matter what side you're on.
In 1993 a group of antiabortionists protested outside a clinic in Pensacola, FL. They waved signs and chanted and shouted and did all the other stuff that we typically associate with an antiabortion protest. As the doctor who ran the clinic was walking from the front door to his car, a man in the crowd "prayed for the doctor's soul" and then stepped forward out of the group and shot the doctor three times in the back, killing him.
When I was in high school I took a government and economics class(Not at home. This one had other folks and a teacher I wasn't related to.) It was a Christian class taught by and for other Christians. One day we talked about abortion and weighed both sides of the issue and just kinda tossed it around.
The teacher told us a true story about an elderly Christian woman who spent a lot of her time in abortion clinics. What she did was hang out in the waiting room with cookies or brownies that she had baked, sitting down with the women who were there and talking with them. Finding out their stories, who they were and where they were from, why they were getting an abortion, so on and so forth. She never tried to change their minds, never told them they were committing a sin. Some of them changed their minds, decided to raise their kids themselves or put them up for adoption. Others went through with the procedure.
I believe the following with every fiber of my being: One old woman sharing brownies and taking the time to listen to a confused and scared teenage girl is more powerful than a million people waving signs and screaming on capital hill.
We love protests, we Christians do. Gay Marriage, Abortion, Scientology, Terri Schaivo. Give us a cause and we'll give you a sign made out of poster board. The thing is in all of these examples, protesting hasn't changed anything. (And just for the record, I'm not talking about Scientology or Gay Marriage. That's for another day.)
Put yourself in the shoes of a sixteen year old girl on your way to an abortion clinic. You're scared, confused and maybe feeling guilty. You've put a lot of time and thought into the decision you've made and you're gonna go through with it. You pull up to the clinic, and instead of seeing the empty parking lot you were hoping for and expecting, you see several dozen people who look like they might tear you to pieces if they so much as suspect you're about to walk through the doors of the clinic.
But you've made you're decision and you're sticking to it, so you get out of the car and walk to the door. On your way there, people run up to you and hand you tracts. They start spewing medical facts at you about when a fetus' heart starts to beat or quote that scripture about how God knew you in the womb. Or, if they're really zealous, they try to keep you from entering the clinic. Maybe they even threaten you.
You were already scared and confused. Now in addition you're feeling alienated and humiliated. And on top of all that, you've just been blasted with an extremely negative side of the church and Christianity in general.
I could be wrong – and I mean that, I could - but I find it difficult to believe that Jesus would be okay with this kind of behavior.
Now consider the same scenario as the one above, but this time, instead of the Christians being outside the clinic en mass, there are only one or two of them, inside the clinic, and after you've been in the waiting room for a few minutes, one of them comes and sits next to you, asks you your name, and takes the time to listen to you. And they care, they genuinely care when you tell them your story. Who are you more likely to listen to?
And on a grander scale, who would you say looks more like Jesus?
I'm not saying that we should never protest or stand up for what we believe in. We should all do as God calls us to do, regardless of what that means, and just because I think protesting abortion is a bad idea doesn't mean no one ever should. That's not the point.
My point is that we were called to love.
We've been waving signs and chanting and shouting for years now, and nothing has changed. What if we stopped protesting and yelling and alienating people, and took a step back and looked at things in more practical terms?
What if we spent more time and money and energy raising awareness about adoption and foster care, or sponsoring support programs for young and single mothers, or at least trying to understand the issue a little better?
You can't stop with "it's murder", because there's more to it than that. If it were that simple it'd be illegal. And even if you disagree, there are people for whom the issue is more complicated. And aren't they the ones we should be trying to reach?
One of these days abortion may be outlawed. There are plenty of people in Washington who would love to see that happen. But even if it isn't, we still have the ability to make a difference for the positive.
And we can do it without a megaphone.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
I don't want people waving signs at me, and megaphones hurt my ears.