We will all hear it on the sidewalk of abortion centers at some point: “You are making her feel bad! You should be ashamed of yourself!” Countless times, boyfriends or parents of the aborting mother approach me angrily, saying we are not acting very “Christian” when we are there making others feel bad, especially given they are in such a difficult situation. The mother herself often tells me, “Stop! You are making me feel guilty!” The “pro-choice” crowd will often hurl the same accusation: “How can you kick them when they are down? You are making them cry!” There are various permutations to this claim. Bottom line: Stop making them feel bad!
So should we stop? How do we respond in a Biblical way to this very common complaint from abortive moms and their support people? Even perhaps more importantly, how does Scripture guide us in our role and how we should speak to moms? Does it counsel us to be silent if we are causing further grief or angst to an abortion-determined woman?
The Bible has a great deal to say about the purpose of our speech towards others. In a nutshell, it is to be edifying.
What exactly does that mean? According to the Oxford dictionary, edifying originates from Middle English: from Old French edifier, from Latin aedificare ‘build’, from aedis ‘dwelling’ + facere ‘make’ (compare with edifice). The word originally meant ‘construct a building’, also ‘strengthen’, hence to ‘build up’ morally. Edifying is defined as: instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually.
To edify literally means to “build up” or “strengthen others morally.”
In all things, we as believers are to be careful with our speech and it is always to be edifying. It is useful to examine specific scriptures and consider them in light of what happens in front of an abortion center.
Are we building others up as fits the occasion?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
This passage gives us a number of clues regarding what our speech should include. First, it should not be corrupt. It should edify or build up, it should fit the occasion or purpose for the moment, and it should give grace to the hearer. Now consider our speech to abortion-minded moms.
What does it mean to corrupt? Again, Oxford dictionary defines corrupt as an adjective: having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. The verb corrupt means: change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations.
Thus, when we speak it should be in honesty or truth with no thought towards our personal gain. We should not make errors or alter that truth to suit the hearer.
To edify in this context means to bring moral truth to the situation in order to improve and instruct with the mind of Christ. The purpose at the moment, or the occasion is that a baby is being marched to her death by her mother and we desire to stop that event. To “give grace” to someone is to give them undeserved kindness, love, and mercy, when they deserve vengeance and punishment.
This is all helpful in considering our speech. Truth must not be altered or changed to suit the hearer. It MUST be morally (thus Biblically) true. We cannot edify if we promote lies. The pro-choice agenda that abortion is “healthcare” or “healthy” or “normal” is a lie. God’s word is very clear about the sanctity of human life, born or unborn. It is also clear that taking innocent human life is murder, and a grievous sin and rebellion before God. We are commanded to speak to protect the vulnerable and the mute.
Next, the occasion is one in which to do nothing or say nothing would violate God’s clear direction. A great example of that is Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
In other words, the occasion of a wicked person about to commit a terrible sin like abortion is one in which we MUST warn her or the blood of that baby is on our hands!
Finally, giving grace to another means we must speak with love, compassion, and kindness. Name calling or vengeful anger or self-righteous condemnation has no place in our command to use our speech to “give grace” to others.
Our Speech Should Equip Others for the Work of Ministry
To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:12)
How can our speech in front of an abortion center equip others for ministry and for building the body of Christ? First, when one of us stands boldly proclaiming God’s truth in a manner that edifies the hearer and glorifies God, the saints are encouraged. It has the effect of strengthening the church.
We need to be ready to answer that question, “Why are you making her feel bad?”in a way that will equip and edify the church. Otherwise, the body of Christ may fall prey to the pro-choice lies that we have no right to speak biblical truth to women in distress.
My answer to the direct question, “Why are you doing this??? You are making her feel bad!” is often as follows:
“Maybe she feels guilty (bad) because she is about to do something that is wrong and harms an innocent human being. If she were here getting a tooth pulled, no matter what we might say to dissuade her will not cause guilt because pulling a tooth is not a moral decision. Killing one’s baby is a sin, and a moral choice to defy God. The 6th commandment is thou shall not murder. The child is an innocent human being made in God’s image. She has done nothing to deserve the dismembering death of abortion. My motivation is not to make the mother feel bad, but to convict her of God’s clear word regarding the value of that baby and the sin of killing that innocent child.”
There are many ways to answer that accusation, but it is important to remember the goal. Our response should edify the hearers per the definition and Biblical guidance already suggested. It is important to remember not only are we edifying the abortive moms and the “pro-abortion” enablers around her, but we are also edifying our fellow believers.
Do Not Speak in a Defensive Mode
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. (2 Corinthians 12:19)
So often, we feel (and indeed are) attacked verbally (or worse) while proclaiming Biblical truth and offering help in sidewalk ministry. It is a natural response to try to defend ourselves and to become defensive in our response. The Bible warns against that. It is not about you, or the struggles you may face because of God’s command that you intercede on behalf of those babies. Our speech should NOT be to defend our actions, but to continue to edify and speak truth in love.
I have sometimes heard prolife people spend more time trying to justify themselves than promote biblical truth that might save the baby. It always makes me cringe. God has approved (commanded) you do what you are doing. Keep pointing your listeners (and accusers) to truth and let God defend your reputation.
Speak for Their Good
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2)
Remember the Biblical goal in all that you say. You are to edify (build up) FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GOOD. So what does that mean? Is it good for your neighbor, that baby, to be slaughtered in abortion? NO, of course not. Is it good for the woman to rebel against God, commit this terrible sin, and carry the burden of abortion on her soul? No, of course not.
They may not immediately perceive that you are “pleasing” them for their good, but one day they will. We know that is true by the countless texts and photos we receive from mothers we have helped turn from abortion. The overwhelming response when they choose life is reconnection to God and gratitude to us.
Of course, it is also possible they will never know that we have spoken for their good. It doesn’t matter how they react. What matters is that we follow God’s command and do so in the manner He has directed.
We are Justified In Righteous Anger and Other Responses…but Keep Edification the Goal
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Sometimes, our anger and sense of injustice boils over. We can certainly point to Jesus’ actions such as overturning the tables in the temple as examples of righteous anger. We can also point to Him calling the Pharisees a whole litany of names such as “white washed tombs” and “brood of vipers”. There ARE commentaries that defend name-calling based on these Biblical examples.
However, I would challenge us to consider that while some things may be allowed, will they be helpful? In general, people are not edified by name-calling. They are more often angered and tend to dig in more deeply to their action or position. They are less likely to want to consider what we have to say if they feel personally attacked.
There is MORE than enough edifying truth we can convey without resorting to anger, defensiveness, or name-calling. Jesus’ overwhelming mode of dealing with sin was to speak of it matter of factly, truthfully, without mincing words but with compassion, mercy, and love.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)