It’s my Stand to Reason employment anniversary this weekend. I’ve been working with STR for 10 years, and I’m just getting started.
I can summarize by saying this: It’s my dream job. I love working for STR. The people I work with are talented, intelligent, kind, and – most importantly – love God with all their heart. I also get to meet great people at events where I speak.
Here are two quick lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve found a lot more unity within the Church than I expected. I speak to a wide diversity of churches and denominations: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Coptic, Calvary, Anglican, etc…you name it. Although there are theological differences – both great and small – I always find myself surrounded with people who love our Lord Jesus and want to serve Him in the best way they can. Look, I know we have a lot of work to do in the area of church unity. I’m not oblivious to that fact. I’m just saying I find a lot of kindred spirits even among Christians who are theologically different from me. I’m welcomed (and trusted to teach) in many places I wouldn’t have expected to have an influence.
The biggest threat to the Church is…the Church. I know I often teach on Islam, homosexuality, and abortion, and that might suggest I consider one of those topics as the biggest threat. They’re not. Yes, they’re significant external challenges that the Church must face, but the bigger problem is internal. I believe the more important question is whether we’ll rise to stand firm against the challenges or fall and capitulate to cultural pressure. There will always be new challenges that will come our way. Some big and some small. It’s our response, however, that worries me. I’m seeing a lot of believers who are unable to stand their ground and instead are giving up ground. That encourages the enemy. That’s why my focus is always on training believers to stand firm.
It’s a privilege for me to serve God through my work with Stand to Reason and I’m looking forward to the next decade of ministry with STR.
I was recently interviewed by students about the injustice of abortion. I thought I’d share my answers. You can read the first part of the interview here. This post is the second part of that interview.
Do you know of anyone else who is already trying to make a difference? What are they doing?
There are many organizations and individuals working hard to make a difference. Besides myself and Stand to Reason (the organization I work for) there are other training groups, like Life Training Institute and Justice for All, that are trying to reduce abortions by changing minds. In addition, there are thousands of pregnancy resource centers that serve the needs of pregnant women. They provide pregnant mothers with prenatal care, supplies, and counseling to support them during and after their pregnancy. Many of these care centers also use ultrasound machines to show mothers images of their unborn babies. Sometimes abortion-minded women who see an ultrasound of their child will change their mind and carry their baby to term. By serving and helping them during their crisis pregnancy, these centers reduce the chances that the mothers will abort their children.
How many abortions do you think have been stopped through your program?
That’s a difficult question to answer because most of the time I don’t see the full impact of my work. The vast majority of what I do is training Christians to defend the pro-life view. When they actually engage in practicing what they’ve learned, I am not usually with them. The one exception is when I take pro-lifers out on the streets and engage abortion-choice advocates. Sometimes during my involvement in their hands-on training, we get a person who was abortion minded to change their mind. In several other instances, I have had students come back from engaging abortion-choice advocates and tell me that they prevented an abortion. But these examples are uncommon because of the nature of what I do. However, I do know that the pro-life principles I teach are effective and can change minds on abortion. In many presentations I’ve given on secular university campuses, I’ve had people tell me they are no longer pro-choice. These people may one day face a life or death decision and now I know they’ll make the right choice. Therefore, I’m confident that lives are being saved even if I don’t get regular reports of my impact.
What do you believe is the most effective way to combat abortions in the U.S. and also worldwide?
This requires a three-pronged approach: personally, publically, and politically. First, individuals must personally commit to not have an abortion themselves. Around 30% of people who have abortions identify as Protestant or Catholic. So, first we need to act consistently with our own values and stop killing our own children. Second, we need to stand up, publically, against the killing of innocent human beings. That means changing minds on abortion with friends and family. It entails public presentations and debates at universities and other public forums. It also requires that we serve women facing crisis pregnancies with the care, love, and support they need. Third, we need to fight against abortion laws in the political realm. Laws tend to inform the conscience of the culture. When we make a behavior illegal, it communicates that the prohibited behavior is also immoral. To combat abortion in these three realms requires that people get trained with effective pro-life tactics.
What governmental change do you foresee about the issue of abortion?
I think the government should act consistently. It is already against the law in at least 38 U.S. states to kill the unborn. If someone kills a pregnant woman, they are accused of a double homicide. Killing the unborn, in this case, is treated as murder. The only exception to this law is if the mother decides she doesn’t want to be pregnant, she can request a physician to kill her unborn child. But that’s not consistent. On the one hand, the government treats the unborn as a valuable human being who deserves protection. On the other hand, it treats that same child as neither valuable nor deserving of protection when something happens: the mother decides she doesn’t want a baby. Then, she can request a physician to kill her unborn child. Why does the government strip a member of the human community of their right to life simply based on the desire of their mother? The government isn’t being consistent and it needs to stop this behavior by treating all human beings under its jurisdiction equally.
How can young adults make a difference?
First, they can commit to not have an abortion themselves. Too many people who are attitudinally pro-life aren’t behaviorally pro-life when it matters most. They think their situation is different and, when in a bind, succumb to the pressure to abort. Unfortunately, the data shows many Christians are having abortions. This needs to stop. Second, they can learn the art of pro-life persuasion so they can change minds on abortion when the conversation comes up. All they need is some basic skills to help them understand the science and some simple philosophical distinctions. The evidence is on our side so there’s no excuse. Third, they can volunteer for a pro-life organization or pregnancy resource center. There are many non-profit, pro-life organizations that work hard at saving lives. Anyone can call them and ask how they can help by volunteering their time. Also, they can volunteer at a pregnancy resource center. These centers come alongside women who are abortion minded and serve them when they need help the most. Fourth, they can financially support pro-life speakers, activists, and organizations. The reality is that money is needed to fund the work of people who have committed their lives to ending the injustice of abortion. It is the holocaust of our time and money provides the means to ensure the work they do to end it doesn’t stop today.
I was recently interviewed by students about the injustice of abortion. I thought I’d share my answers. This post is the first of two parts.
When, where, and how did you first become aware of the injustice of abortion?
I grew up as a Christian so, technically, I was attitudinally pro-life. But I was not behaviorally pro-life until becoming more aware of biology and embryology in my training and career as a physical therapist at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. It was then that I changed from merely thinking that abortion was wrong to actually doing something to stop the killing. Studying embryology and seeing graphic images of what abortion does to unborn human beings was one of the key factors that changed my awareness of this injustice.
What do you think makes it an injustice?
It’s an injustice for exactly the same reason that killing a two year-old is an injustice: it’s wrong to kill innocent human beings. Abortion is the same. It also kills an innocent human being.
How does abortion affect your life?
I have not had a personal experience with abortion. However, I’m basically a human rights activist so it grieves me to know that innocent human beings are being killed for mostly socio-economic reasons. Knowing that my tax dollars can fund this killing only makes it worse. It is also perfectly reasonable to be motivated to stop an injustice, even if you are not personally affected by it. For example, many women and children are trafficked and sold into sex slavery. Though someone may not have experienced such an injustice personally, it is appropriate for them to do what they can to stop that evil and protect women and children from becoming victims. We are all fellow human beings and caring for your neighbor is not only loving, but commanded by Jesus of Nazareth.
What grieves your heart most about abortion?
In every abortion that takes place, there are at least two victims. The first is the mother who is emotionally (and sometimes physically) wounded. Her decision to abort her child means she faced a crisis pregnancy. Something went horribly wrong. She chose abortion because there were many failures along the way. She didn’t have the love, support, and guidance she needed to make the right choice.
The second victim is her unborn child, who is fatally wounded. The unborn is the most vulnerable and defenseless of all the members of our human community. They should find themselves protected in their mother’s womb, given their vulnerable state. Yet, it is a place where unborn children are legally killed 2,899 times a day in the United States alone. Anyone who has seen images of the unborn after an abortion has seen the gruesome reality that befalls these innocent persons. It grieves my heart because our society is failing these two victims every day. I know we can do better than abortion.
What do you think should be done about it?
People should stop killing their unborn children and the government should make it illegal to do so. The government protects born children and adults from being killed by making murder illegal and punishing that crime. I believe they should extend the same protection to unborn human beings since they are morally equivalent to born ones. Until abortion is outlawed again, we should work to serve the needs of women who are facing crisis pregnancies and do everything we can to change minds about the morality of abortion.
How are you trying to make a difference?
I try to change minds on abortion. If we change enough minds, we can change public opinion. If we change public opinion, we can change public policy. Changing public policy means that laws are changed to protect unborn children and that saves lives. Plus, laws tend to inform the conscience of a culture. When a behavior is made illegal, people think it is also immoral. Until abortion is outlawed, changing individual minds can also save lives by persuading abortion-minded women not to abort their children.
How do you talk to someone who has had an abortion?
It depends on the topic of conversation, how recent the abortion occurred, and many other factors. I can say, however, that when a woman tells me she’s had an abortion, I’m quick to listen and hear the woman’s whole story. I don’t just make a case against abortion. Also, if I sense that she would be open to counseling or to a more pastoral approach, I’m eager to refer her to the many post-abortive ministries that are better equipped to help women who have had abortions.