Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently (which, good for you if you have, I’m jealous!), you’ve no doubt witnessed the emotionally charged, divisive debate surrounding abortion and the bills recently passed in Alabama and Georgia.
Y’all, I don’t know about you, but these are the times when I simply want to burn all social media to the ground. Log off, walk away from it, and pretend it’s 1998 again and I’m blissfully unaware of all the opinions.
Maybe you feel the same. Wherever you land on the pro-choice/pro-life debate, I’m sure your beliefs are strongly held (I know mine are). And it can be extremely difficult, hurtful, and relationship-straining to witness or participate in a debate about this issue. Even basic conversations can turn tense and ugly in the blink of an eye!
What I really want to talk about is not abortion itself—but rather, how we talk to one another about abortion. Because it is wearing my heart right out, grieving me to the core, and making me want to run and find that cave some of you have been living in.
Yes, my heart is grieved over the act of abortion. My heart longs for a world where such a thing ceases to exist because there is no need or desire for it. As a follower of Jesus, I value life and believe that our Creator God values life–women, men, children, babies–as a reflection of His very image (see Genesis 1:27).
But my heart is also deeply grieved over how deeply divided and nasty and polarizing our speech has become over this issue.
Everyday, I see memes, opinions, articles, posts, etc., full of hatred, pride, absolutism, and judgment. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.
We are screaming silently at each other from behind our computer screens. Your rights. My rights. Your body. My body. Your convictions. My convictions.
And we are not hearing one another above these screams. Not in the least. We come at each other, keyboards blazing, and wonder why the other side refuses to see our point of view. Meanwhile, the raging gulf between us only grows deeper and wider.
Friends, there has to be a better way. There has to be a way to hold conviction and respect in balance. When we approach this topic with legal ferocity, determined to “win” the debate, we ultimately end up with no winners at all. Babies lose. Women lose. Friendships lose. Relationships lose.
When did we lose the ability to respectfully disagree? When did we stop listening to each other? When did we start spewing shame at the opposing view?
Dear reader, I know abortion is an incredibly sensitive, hotly debated issue. The pain runs deep, the stories even deeper, and the convictions deeper still.
And while we can’t necessarily do something today to bring about immediate change on the issue of abortion—whatever side of the debate we’re on—we can absolutely, right now, change the way we talk about it with each other.
We can hold tightly to our beliefs and still love the person standing on the opposite side of the debate.
We can pray and act for the change we desire to see and still listen to the stories of others with a humble, open heart.
We can vote our convictions and still show respect for the voter who checks a different box.
As the debate ahead rages, may I gently challenge you—as I challenge myself—to pause before posting?
Pause, and examine your words through the filter of wisdom, which “possess[es] knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 8:12 NIV, emphasis added). I think our social media feeds could benefit by infusing a little discretion into these difficult conversations and debates.
So please—can we pretty, pretty please, change the way we talk about this issue? I’m not asking you to change your opinion. I know it is tightly held, as is my own.
May we soften our approach to one another as we swim these contentious waters. And may we make Colossians 3:12-14 our filter for every action and word:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone … And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”Colossians 3:12-14, NIV (emphasis added)