With the latest passage of Alabama’s abortion law, The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, news feeds everywhere are riddled with opinions, for and against, abortion. Navigating the difficult conversations requires grace, patience, love and prayer. This post is not a direct response to the Alabama law, nor is it a direct response to abortion. Rather, this post is a look at a few key arguments of the pro-choice movement and the best apologetic responses to common abortion arguments.

My Body My Choice

Perhaps the biggest argument for abortion is “My body, My choice.” While the view is easily refuted (as referenced here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) the phrase itself is one of empowerment and not easily dismissed with casual rhetoric. When “My body, My choice” populates your news feed, the best response from the Christian apologist is to “keep scrolling.”

1 Peter 3:15 gives us a good reason for pause here. Note the words of Peter, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” (emphasis added).

The person behind this argument is not asking to be engaged but asserting a position of power. Moreover, the person behind this argument is (probably) not interested in the implications of the argument. Simply pointing out that abortion isn’t about infringing on the right of the woman to her body doesn’t change the narrative in play. Neither does exposing the limitations of the idiom. Rather than engage, the smarter response is no response.

If a response is necessary, use these tips:

  • Is the response focused on the person or the argument? Focus on the person!
  • Does the response reflect the heart of Jesus or the depravity of man? Focus on the heart of Jesus.
  • Will the response be well received or divisive? Do not make comments open for interpretation.

The Fetus Isn’t Viable

Fetal personhood is a hot-topic debate. Scientifically, the scales do seem to tip in favor of pro-life advocates. There are, after all, no scientific reasons to believe a human would birth a horse, iguana, maple tree or anything other than a human baby. However, it’s not as simple as divisive news feeds suggest.

Bill Nye recently attacked this emotionally charged debate by charging pro-lifers as anti-science and ignorant (here). His focal point was arguing that conception isn’t always viable so conception itself isn’t a strong starting point for human rights. Aristotle also wrestled with this suggesting human development occurs in three stages: vegetative, animalistic and rationality. While viability is the keyword in the argument, viability itself isn’t at issue. Therefore, using the S.L.E.D. tactics (as used here, here, here, and here) can dismiss the argument, but fails to address the arguer.

In this case, unlike the “my body, my choice” argument, the arguer is not choosing a power platform but a passive one. By diminishing the humanity of the fetus, the pregnant woman can maintain a higher morality. In this case, the best response of the apologist is to “keep scrolling.”

If a response is necessary, use these tips:

  • Was your position asked for or are you interjecting unsolicited? Don’t fuel the fire.
  • By challenging another perspective, will the comment build up or tear down the person being challenged? Find common ground first.

When Is It OK to Engage?

meme "there, just posted my opinion about abortion. That should fix everything."

At A Clear Lens, we strive to “transform your Christian faith into effective communication for Christ.” In today’s world, much of that communication happens online. Social media, podcasts, blogs, and vines are great mediums to share your faith. Post your thoughts and well-reasoned arguments as resources for people to think through. Share them with your friends and family. Share them with those who think and feel differently. Join online debate forums; follow hashtags. By no means are Christians called to sit on the sidelines.

Consider this an encouragement to Christians to listen to the person not just the argument. There are real people, real hurts and real emotion fueling both sides of the abortion debate. For that reason, the apologetic response must be:

  1. Answer those who ask
  2. Prepare yourself to give an answer
  3. (most importantly) do so with gentleness and respect

Other Views

What are your thoughts on abortion and how to respond? Leave your comments below or check out these other resources from ACL on the topic.

Ep. 127: How Do You Talk to a Non-Believer About Abortion?

Why Abortion Is Unjust Discrimination

God, David, and Child Sacrifice

Roger Browning is a husband, father of four, Army veteran and has been part of the Clear Lens team since 2016. Roger brings wit, experience and an audacious style to the apologetics genre. Currently, Roger is enrolled in the C. S. Lewis Institute Fellows program and enjoys encouraging others to take their faith seriously.

8 COMMENTS

  1. We address many at various levels; ignorant of facts (DNA, biology), willful militants (head shaved/ready to fight), political capitilizers (those who for political reasons are ‘pro-choice’), & scared/in trouble/pregnant (often alone/marginalized/pressured). The WAY we speak to each of those categories is different but the truth does not change. You’re suggestions are well thought out and hopefully better practiced. With that said, this issue is the most damning of our society (Nation) Of any (though our other pelvic fascinations are catching up).

    • The issue is certainly bothersome, Tony. And I hope that Christians equip themselves to stand out as salt and light to those in their influence. But, I also hope that Christians approach the subject with grace and humility which is often impossible on social media. Godspeed.

  2. Good article Browning. I remember as an adolescent when I argued with anyone and everyone who cared to. Then I came to a point where I realized I misspoke several times, owned it and grew up. The internet has become a soundboard for the inadequate and insecure. I would say in 90% of internet arguments it’s about circularly trying to prove yourself right, rather than an open mind or search for truth. In science, confirmation bias is the same result (insert all 5,000 hypocritical Bill Nye comments here). They pick their end result, tout it as fact, then find any evidence to support it. Rather than the true scientific process of testing a hypothesis repeatedly to determine actual facts.

    Almost nobody on the pro-choice side approaches this topic from a logical stand point but that of emotion. The arguments quickly devolve to “well what about those rape victims!”, which is less than 0.5%. When someone immediately jumps to the most exaggerated hypothetical, don’t waste your time engaging. Even Jesus agreed there was a time to stop casting your pearls to the swine. (Matt 7:6)

    Those 1 in 500 people who genuinely ask are great to reach out to because they aren’t condescending and trying to justify their own insecurities – they actually came to learn. While rare, those moments are still out there IF you’re looking for them.

    • Hey Dr. Brown. Your comment brought a reminiscent smile to my face. The bullet-point story of how I came to be part of ACL went something like this:
      1) Graduate with a B.A. in Biblical & Theological Studies
      2) Use my spiritual gift of intellectualism (I say to chide myself) to challenge every atheist on Twitter
      3) Find a team (ACL) that became more discipleship-focused and helped identify all the points you mention

      Thanks for sharing and making me smile. I agree, whole-heartedly.

  3. Bill Nye’s arguing that conception isn’t always viable leaves out the fact that life itself is not viable and always ends in death; should we therefore condone murder?
    And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27

    As to whether or not to respond; one additional consideration is if a “no response” to the conversation at hand would give the impression of agreement.
    Lord, give Your Children discernment that we should be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

    Your Brother in Christ,
    Michael

    • Hey Michael. Sorry for the delay, I was finishing CSLI and now have some free time to catch up. I wanted to thank you for including the ‘no response’ perspective. Every conversation must be thoughtfully balanced between right words and right moment. It’s easy enough to refute most arguments but at what cost? Will it cost a friendship? Will it destroy a reputation? Will it bring glory to God? Indeed, you are correct when you say, “Lord, give Your childeren discernment”, for that is much needed in our growing online communities. Thanks for your feedback, Michael. Blessings and Grace to you.

LEAVE A REPLY

Comments will be closed in 8 days.