Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Facebook and Abortion: How Then Shall We Post?

Not long ago I linked to an article about abortion on Facebook and offered no comment. A Facebook "friend" whom I haven't known for decades wrote me a personal message of disgust that I would link to such an article. For him, the pro-choice position is a slam dunk and it was offensive to even see a link to an article that talked about a different position. In the course of his reply he told me that he unfriended me because he did not want to see anything like this pop up on his feed again, he scoffed at me and my religious peers for holding to (and being public about) our pro-life position, he warned that society is not going to go backwards on this issue (or any other), and he questioned the lack of love it would take for a person like me to implicitly judge others by linking to this article. After this rocky start, we actually ended up having a very amicable back-and-forth and we left off our correspondence in disagreement, and even continuing to be offended by each other's views, but at least we did so having heard one another out. With his permission, here is a copy/paste of my initial reply to him:
Hi -------,

Please read this response as though I were speaking in an gentle (and not an angry) tone. It would be my hope that issues such as this could be discussed in such a loving manner.

I guess the crux of the whole issue is whether life begins at conception or not. If it does not (which pro choice people contend), then an argument can be made for a woman's right to choose. But if it does, then anyone who opposes murder and oppression will oppose abortion, regardless of their religious views. My belief in the Bible does three things to my views on this entire issue:
1) It increases my view of the value of every single human life, unborn or born, poor or rich, disabled or elite athlete, because all people are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
2) It emphasizes that life not only begins at conception, but that the God who created all things knits people together in their mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), and therefore, when a person has an abortion they are tearing apart a life that God is in the process of knitting together.
3) It humbles me because I am a sinner who is undeserving of the favour of God and it emboldens me to look other sinners in the eyes (including those who have had abortions) and to declare that Jesus died for that very sin and that there is hope for them! The good news of Jesus Christ says to all people that they are more sinful and flawed than they ever dared to believe and that they are more loved in Jesus Christ than they ever dared to hope. In light of this, there is no one who is beyond hope.
As for your argument about progress, I would suggest that if life does begin at conception, legalized and widespread abortion is not progress, but it is legalized genocide. And this is not the first time in history (in the west) that arguments have been made that real, precious, beautiful humans are not at all human and therefore, it is o.k. to oppress, use, and murder them. See this little cartoon for an explanation: http://adam4d.com/slavery/

In the case of African slavery and slave trade, I praise God that Wilberforce raised awareness and was instrumental in having it all abolished (in England).

As for the planned parenthood videos, I think that their main function is to raise awareness about what goes on in abortion clinics, what aborted babies look like, etc. If you've seen the Hollywood movie "Amazing Grace" about Wilberforce, you might remember him touring a group of rich people around a slave ship. He tells them to stop plugging their noses because they need to smell the smell of death that they are wanting to escape, because they need to know what is happening so they can make informed decisions.

Those are my responses to your note. But I'll add that the article I linked to was certainly incomplete, because if a person (whether Christian or not) is anti-abortion, they had better be pro life, which will mean that they spend money and time and energy and tears caring for and supporting those who choose to have babies instead of aborting because they want to give a beautiful child a chance to live. It means that they will foster, adopt, assist in adoption processes, and provide counsel and support for those who are in these situations. This is what needs to be said beyond what the article had mentioned.


Back to my blog post again, I want to offer two more thoughts about abortion, hot-button issues, and Facebook before I close off:

Beware of insider posts and links

I would suggest that if you are doing anything other than linking to cute pics of your kids, and jubilant remarks about the superiority of the Toronto Blue Jays, that you should have three groups in mind as you post: 1) People who radically disagree with you; 2) People who radically agree with you; 3) People who are either undecided, or who have not yet formed their own opinion, but whose convictions on a given issue are the result of following the group with whom they identify (e.g. their church or the popular culture, etc). If you, say, are a Christian who only has group #2 in mind when you post, you will likely come across with an air of superiority to group #1, and you will tend to foster pride with those in group #3 who agree with you as their default position. It's the old Puritan principle, and we see it modeled so well in the ministry of Tim Keller: anticipate objections in your hearers (or readers) and speak to them. If you are a Christian with a whole lot of enemies, is it possible that the reason people hate you is not only because the gospel you treasure is so offensive, but because you hold your position in a prideful, brash, and abrasive manner, or at least are perceived as such by group #1 because of the insider attitude of your posts? In the end, people will still hold to views that offend others, but if we avoid insider language perhaps we could win more of a hearing. I'm certainly guilty of failing in this regard, but I also constantly work to grow in this.

Feel free (and even compelled) to link to thoughtful articles on difficult topics:

In other words, do not be a coward as you seek to be winsome. Anyone who operates with conviction will have views that offend some. Link to articles and offer your perspective but don't do so with a select few of your readers in mind. Think through the broad spectrum of your readership, including the question of how certain real-life individuals would hear what you are saying, and then post away.


The weird world of social media has provided a platform that can be used effectively, but it should be used thoughtfully, winsomely and wisely.