Most prolife groups will have their share of protesters and opposition to their ministry. For those of us on the sidewalks of abortion centers, the opposition from pro-abortion advocates can be fierce and discouraging.
The Chinese general Sun Tzu famously said: “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle.”
While Sun Tzu is not our authority, his wisdom is reflected in the Bible. Paul echoes the same sentiment in 2 Corinthians 2:11: “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” When we KNOW the designs of the enemy of our soul, we can prevent being outwitted by him. And when we know ourselves as believers who have the strength of God within us, we are empowered.
To that end, this article is an attempt to better know our enemies in prolife ministry. There are two sides in the battle and the lines are most clearly drawn in front of an abortion center. There are those proclaiming the sanctity of life of the unborn, and those denying it if it conflicts with the mother’s interest. While pro-abortion proponents call themselves “pro-choice”, it is clear that the only choice they wish to offer is abortion. In fact, they do everything in their power to silence the voices speaking for life. Therefore, we will refer to them as we see them: pro-abortion.
In this article we examine six major points that answer the title question: Can we effectively coexist with pro-abortion advocates?
1. Understanding the mindset of the opposition
First, we have to understand why the pro-abortion advocates do what they do. The Bible can guide us here. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Those who have not put their faith and trust in Jesus are blinded to truth. Their minds and hearts are incapable of seeing what is so obvious to a true believer. Human life is precious from the moment of conception because all human beings are made in the image of God. Most of the pro-abortion group does not agree with that, and most do not think of the unborn child, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, as a “person” with rights.
Just as we make sacrifices to uphold what we know to be sacred and true and precious, the opposition sacrifices for what they hold precious. The abortion advocates are protecting what they find valuable: the concept of choice. The right to choose becomes more important to them than the results or even horror that might result from that choice.
2. What is their Motivation? Are they all the same?
Just like there are varying ideologies and motivations behind various prolife groups, the pro-abortion group is not monolithic. Some personally believe abortion is wrong and they would never do it, but believe everyone has the right to make their own determination to abort or not. Some believe abortion should be restricted, especially in the last trimester. And some believe abortion should be celebrated and accessible to the point of birth for any reason.
Some claim to believe in God. Many of those who profess faith feel that bringing an unwanted child into the world who will suffer or live in poverty is more cruel than killing him.
What they all have in common is a definition of truth that is relative, based upon individual experience or perceptions. Reality is fluid. There are no absolutes. They believe we cannot determine right from wrong for others. We cannot and should not judge others.
This is in stark contrast with an evangelical believers concept of truth and reality. We can know truth. We can know right from wrong. We can claim there is absolute evil and absolute good, and it is possible, and even essential to judge accordingly. The Bible supports this in several verses including Proverbs 31:9: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
That righteousness is of course not our own, but the righteousness of God. Every believer has access to the righteousness of God when we submit our life to Jesus and the Holy Spirit indwells us and guides us.
3. What are the goals of the pro-abortion advocates?
Understanding pro-life enemies must include analyzing what they hope to achieve. Their main goal is to preserve the right of choice, no matter what that choice entails. Their methods to achieve that goal when standing in opposition to prolife sidewalk counselors are as follows:
- To distract
- To discredit
- To demoralize
- To discourage
- To defend their own lives and choices
Psalm 10:4-11 describes perfectly the goals of those who are in rebellion from God. These verses aptly apply to those who oppose the sacred value or right to life of God’s unborn children.
“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.””
4. How should we respond?
This is a hard question, particularly when our opponents are standing a foot away, screaming at us as we attempt to speak to women seeking an abortion. We have precious little time to convince a woman she should not abort. However, all people are made in the image of God and in need of Jesus. Shouldn’t we try to reach those lost souls of the pro-abortion crowd?
We have two basic choices. We can ignore the pro-abortion advocates. This is often exceedingly difficult as they are usually trained to be difficult to ignore. It also goes against the grain of all people who love God to treat anyone as though she is invisible.
Choice two is to engage with them. Share the Gospel. Share truth. Try to reason with them to bring them out of their blindness and darkness into light of truth and salvation.
The Bible tells us that we are called upon to warn those who are on a path of destruction as we clearly believe the pro-abortion advocates are.
“If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 33: 8-9
On the other hand, the Bible also warns us against fruitless discussion with those who are so hard of heart they will not receive it.
“”Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matthew 7:6
So which is it? Ignore or engage?
There are times when we have the opportunity to reach a specific woman and we must remain focused on the ministry goal to save the unborn child being led to the slaughter. There are other times when there are no women in sight, and we have enough team members that it is appropriate, guided by the Holy Spirit, to share truth with the pro-abortion advocates.
We generally advise our Cities4Life counselors to stay focused on our mission and to not be distracted by the opposition. However, there are certainly times that we feel the Spirit is prompting us to speak to the pro-abortion advocates.
5. Can we coexist? If so…how?
Proverbs 16:7 paints a beautiful picture of harmony finally developing between enemies of God and His followers: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
If we are walking in a manner that pleases God, in obedient submission to Him, we can bring peace even with our opposition. Whether that peace occurs or not, we are called to live in a manner that glorifies God. The result may indeed bring harmony with our oppressors.
I have seen this play out on the sidewalk of our local abortion centers. All of our counselors attempt to be kind to the opposition, even helpful when we know of a need. There was one troubled pro-abortion advocate who had a host of struggles and we discovered she wanted to return home, but hadn’t the funds to do so. Our group raised money to help send her across the country to her home. The response, at first, was one of incredulity and gratitude from the pro-abortion advocates.
There are many times like that when the opposition has seen we are not the evil caricature they have seen portrayed by the media or by the accounts of others. They have sometimes treated us kindly in return. Sadly, what I often see happen over time is the opposition finds they cannot reconcile the reality of who we are with their strongly held preconceptions. In response, they often return to a hateful posture against us.
This makes sense in a convoluted way. If they find we are not the nasty ogres they expected to find and we continue to walk in love and God’s righteousness, they are forced to make a choice. Are we to be trusted and believed? If so, they would have to admit that they were misled and wrong about us. Maybe they are misled and wrong about their entire world view! They would have to change…and oftentimes are unwilling to do that. It is easier to hate and malign us than to consider that the beliefs they have clung to are mistaken.
It is clear that we ourselves were reconciled to God, but when that process began, we were still His enemies.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5: 10
Our longing is for ALL people to reconcile to God. However, if we are called to a specific ministry and lose our focus on those to whom we are sent to minister, the unborn in our case, who will intercede to save those babies and mothers from a path of destruction?
We can trust that the whole time we are calling out God’s truth to the abortion minded women, the pro-abortion advocates are listening. God will provide the increase. His word never returns void. We need to be careful to keep the main thing the main thing. Minister to the abortion-minded women, not our opponents.
6. Is the opposition useful…can they help us to question, explore, and refine our faith that leads us to minister more powerfully to abortion minded women and their unborn children?
When I was a new counselor, the pro-abortion crowd frequently shouted that I was a terrible Christian because I was “judging” and the Bible says I was not to judge. I had never really studied what the Bible says about judging others. I wondered if the accusations were accurate. I went home and studied the Bible and what it had to say about judgment.
The result was my faith and understanding were HELPED by the taunts of the opposition, not hindered!
Romans 5: 3-5 mirrors why this is true:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
When we endure, despite struggles and suffering, it ultimately leads to hope. We will not be put to shame. God is with us and His love and Holy Spirit guide us.
James 1: 2-4 echoes this sentiment and reminds us that we need to view the struggles not as an obstacle but as an opportunity.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Yes! Our trials in the face of the very vocal and often disparaging criticism of the pro-abortion advocates can lead us to steadfast faith in all its glory. In the end, James tells us we will reach the fullness of our faith, lacking nothing!
It is perhaps not our first or intuitive response to the often vile and vitriolic attacks of the opposition as something to count as joy. However, unpleasant as their presence can be when we are fighting for the lives of the unborn, God reminds us that they are no surprise to Him. He has allowed them to be there.
Perhaps more startling, we might even grow closer to God as we learn to contend in their midst for His glory.