Shifting our Approach on Abortion

For decades evangelicals have denounced abortion. (Personally, I am adamantly pro-life, from womb to tomb.) God was angry when the Egyptians tossed Hebrew babies in the Nile. I suspect he is still pro-babies.

Evangelicals are losing the abortion debate in America. Denying this fact doesn’t change it. Electing a different politician hasn’t helped. Both political parties have enjoyed terms where they alone controlled congress and the White House. It didn’t result in criminalizing abortion. The old cliché about insanity seems to apply to evangelicals. We keep trying the same thing, hoping for different results.

May I suggest a different approach? We have been taking an all-or-nothing position. When we insist (in the public arena) for banning all abortions, our opponents will dredge up the most heart-wrenching story of a mother’s endangered life or tragic victimization. Christians are left looking heartless. In the arena of public opinion, we lose the debate because we allowed ourselves to be cornered into discussing the rarest instances of abortion, rather than the more easily critiqued ones.

Paul was not a supporter of idols; yet, he didn’t walk down the streets of Athens, knocking idols off the pedestals lining the road. He didn’t stand in the foyers of temples denouncing idols. Recognizing the limits of where he was, Paul made a philosophical argument (Acts 17). It may not be Paul’s best argument for the Gospel. It can be critiqued for not presenting the complete Gospel. But it was a great choice for starting a public discussion with Stoic philosophers. Let’s learn a lesson from Paul.

I suggest we consider arguing (in the public arena) for “Reducing the number of abortions.” Let us not get cornered in the weeds of the rare, heart-wrenching cases. I prefer to a debate where the other position is, “Let’s keep or increase the current number of abortions.” I’m not suggesting this is our final position on abortion, our last stance, merely a next step in the political debate. Can we not celebrate a victory of reducing the number?

We need to get in and advocate for what we think it right. Politics (laws) determine what will or will not be legal in our country, so let’s make a political argument.

Let’s try something other than our current all-or-nothing stance (since currently all we are getting is nothing). Perhaps it is time for a little Mars Hill strategy.

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