I spotted a post over at the Anchoress about the issue of prayer and abortion. She is discussing with a friend whether to pray in front of an abortion clinic, which takes a lot of courage. But I don’t think that’s the only way to make a difference on abortion. I want to remind my readers that you can pray and debate. I think both are necessary. And debate is just as Biblical as prayer.
The Anchoress writes about the importance of prayer:
If you stand outside an abortion mill and peacefully pray for everyone inside, the abortionists and their aides, the troubled women choosing to enter, the babies – you are truly moving outside of your own concerns, your own ego, and growing in knowledge of generosity and detachment. Will you save a few lives? Perhaps, if God wills it.
But perhaps the point of your calling is two-fold; to affect the lives of others in a positive way, yes, but also to affect your own life, if you are open and trusting enough to allow yourself to be instructed and changed, as I know you will be.
I am convinced that the abortion issue itself is meant to be the long, protracted, painful, divisive and enduring struggle it is, because it is a challenge to the entire age.
The Torah says, “who saves a life saves the world entire.” Our common-wisdom will sometimes say – over new laws, or new restrictions or new requirements – “well, but if it saves a single life, it’s worth it.” We do know the value of human life, we know it instinctively and intrinsically, because our own DNA shouts out “I am good; I am important and I want to live” with every breath we take, every heartbeat pumped and every new blood cell created. But some of us work against that knowledge, for a variety of reasons. Some of it is self-loathing. Some of it is faux enlightenment. Some of it is simple, stubborn, adolescent contrariness, writ large.
I agree with all of this, but I want to also emphasize the importance of debating with our opponents.
I tend towards more confrontational means, and so I wanted to link together some of my best posts on defending the pro-life position, and then make some comments. When it comes to abortion, I’m inclined to keep faith, emotions and personal experiences right out of the discussion and stick with the strict philosophical reasoning and pure science.
First, let me share with you the links:
- Audio: Scott Klusendorf’s 35-minute case for the pro-life position
- Audio: A 55-minute discussion featuring two great pro-life debaters, Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf
- My own religion-free case for the pro-life position in plain English
- A comparison of embryonic and adult stem cell research
- Video: Cute 12-year old girl makes the pro-life case in a short speech
And now the comment. I think we need to get serious about the way we talk about social issues like abortion, marriage and divorce. Some Christians are hiding from these discussions and resorting to prayer alone because they believe that these are issues that are too emotional to debate. But emotions and personal experiences are irrelevant to questions of truth and morality.
The reason why society as a whole is sliding leftwards on social issues is because we wrongly believe that there is a fundamental split between facts and values. We believe in objective truth over here, as in chemistry and physics. And we believe in religious and moral truth over there, as in the existence of God and the sanctity of life. We need to halt the slide by treating the latter like the former.
And here’s how: learn to defend your views by reading books.
For example, is the abortion issue a concern to you? Then read Francis J. Beckwith’s 2007 book “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice”, published by Cambridge University Press, and put it up on your shelf at work.
Is the marriage/divorce issue a concern to you? Then read Stephen Baskerville’s 2007 book “Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family”, published by Cumberland House, and put it up on your shelf at work.
And so on… bioethics is just like any other area of publicly testable knowledge. The more you know, the more confident you become, and the easier it is to speak about these things in a non-threatening, academic tone. People actually debate these topics in formal, timed debates at universities, in front of students, for example.
We succeed in persuading our neighbors about social issues as we succeed in persuading our neighbors about anything. Bring more data to the table than your opponent and you will do well. Even if you don’t get an admission, talking about moral issues seriously creates respect for traditional social conservative views in the culture, by showing that we have reasons, and not just blind-faith.
UPDATE: This post over at Nice Deb is a must-read. Obama is telling Catholic Cardinals that he’s not pro-abortion.