The police stood with growing horror as they awaited the hostage negotiator. The woman ignored their pleas as she carried the child closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. They begged her to consider what she was about to do. That living child would die a horrific death. She was crying as she told them she could not possibly continue to care for or provide for her baby. She insisted they could never understand the situation she was in. Her child was better off dead.
The officer trained in hostage negotiation sprinted to the scene. He asked her what was going on and then listened as she unloaded a long tale of woe. The officer told her they could help. He understood how overwhelmed she must feel. They could find others who could take care of her baby as she worked with their resources to resolve her terrible circumstances. She asked what they could offer. The negotiator ran through a list of suggestions. She paused, considering his offer. Maybe there was hope… he seemed trustworthy.
A young officer on the scene was filled with growing panic as he considered how close she still teetered on the edge of the precipice. She swayed, possibly from the tension of her predicament, and the officer could stand the suspense no longer. He rushed past the hostage negotiator, shouting at the top of his lungs.
“You crazy woman! Do you have no regard for God and that baby you carry? That is your child! Are you such a wicked, selfish excuse for a mother that you would murder your own baby??? There is no punishment awful enough for what you are about to do.”
The woman leaped, carrying that innocent child with her to their destruction.
Warning or wooing? What is the proper approach for a crisis situation?
On the sidewalks of the abortion center, it is edifying to consider what is happening as a hostage situation. The unborn baby is being held hostage by a desperate and fear-driven mother. The mother is not thinking of the needs of the baby, but of her own terrible circumstances and how to get out of the mess she is in.
Sometimes, the latter strategy in the little story above with the frantic officer warning of the wrath to come is the one we are prone to take when watching a pregnant mother walk into an abortion center. That woman is about to commit a terrible crime against God. She is about to murder an innocent little human being. God’s word is clear. He hates the shedding of innocent blood. The sixth commandment is “thou shall not murder.” God says that the lake of fire awaits “all murderers.”
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”” Revelation 21:8
Shouldn’t we sidewalk counselors be warning of this horrific consequence? Many ardent prolife advocates believe that speaking the truth forcefully of the dangers of disregarding God’s commands is the best way to deal with people on the brink of committing such a serious crime against God and their child. But what if the idea of dealing with the woman as though she were a hostage-taker is a better way to perceive the situation? Are there hostage negotiation techniques that mirror scripture in how best to save that hostage child?
5 Negotiation Techniques
An article in Time.com outlined five major hostage negotiation techniques. They are as follows:
1. Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
2. Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel.
3. Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
4. Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem-solving with them and recommend a course of action.
5. Behavioral Change: They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)
These steps are proven to be effective in bringing people around from a dangerous standoff to a place of safety. That is in essence what we desire when pleading with women to not only save their unborn child but turn to and trust in God. The tactics in the secular article are known to work with actual hostage situations. Are there spiritual parallels that can guide us in the Word of God in how to effectively counsel the mothers about to abort their unborn child, in essence, held hostage in their womb? I believe there are.
James advises that we should be active, engaged listeners. Listen first to understand, then be slow and careful to speak, and certainly do not respond with anger. Many of you have likely heard the quip: God gives us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen first!
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19
The word empathy means “ability to see things and feel things from another person’s point of view”. Empathy is critical in helping others to believe we really understand their situation and they can be sure we take them seriously. A closely aligned concept in the Bible is compassion. One of the stories Jesus Himself tells to demonstrate how we are to treat others with empathy and compassion is the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan.
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:34
Rapport and Trusting:
The abortive women will either trust the abortion clinic workers or those hoping to save her baby. We have probably been portrayed by the clinic as people who harass, and desire to limit the woman’s “right to choose” or to control their “reproductive rights.” How do we show we are trustworthy?
In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the story is told of Rahab, a prostitute who lived in Jericho. The Israelites were commanded to conquer the city of Jericho, but first sent spies to determine how best to defeat the enemy. They sought shelter in the home of Rahab, a prostitute when soldiers from Jericho showed up. Rahab showed them where to hide. Rahab could certainly have been loyal to her people and given away the whereabouts of the Hebrew spies. However, she proved she was trustworthy by offering protection. She hid the spies and kept them from being killed. They knew they could trust her because she did what she said she would do. We can earn the trust of abortive women by offering help and giving evidence of having helped others in the past. Always keep your promises to the women!
“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
Once we have earned the trust of the women, we have the opportunity to influence them. Our influence is not for our glory, but for God’s. The Bible is replete with verses about how we are to influence others for the Lord. Our influence will hopefully encourage the woman to choose life, but perhaps even most importantly, to turn back to God.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The ultimate desire is that the abortion-minded women will repent, and leave the abortion center with a heart that is now inclined toward God. If true repentance and faith is kindled, it is less likely she will return for an abortion. Ultimately, abortion will not end as a result of legal restrictions. Abortion will end when the hearts and minds of the people are changed. Only God can work a true redemptive miracle in the souls of human beings that results in turning from transgression to righteousness.
“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?