This is our truth, tell us yours
In light of the #praytoendabortion tag I am republishing a post some of you might recognise. Being a forced birther is not a stance of all Chrsitians, and objecting to the fact someone has faith is not a pro choice argument. I hope this post provides some better ones.
As I have mentioned before, I am a Christian and pro choice, an unconventional Christian perhaps but there are far more who oppose the actions of 40 days for life than you might realize. We do not tend to get asked to go on news shows and comment and do not have the funding from America of the anti abortion groups, but we exist.
Tonight someone on my twitter feed highlighted this, it is an amusing little list, but it will not make any anti abortion campaigner stop and think, I hope that by producing something from someone who sees the Bible as holy book full of wisdom that may I might be more useful.
The problem with lists like this one is they tend to be written by people who look down on all religion. The laws on shellfish may seem odd, but you are disrespecting every Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim who observes dietary regulations. Of course everyone who has been to Sunday school knows the that all OT dietary laws were overturned by the dream of Peter. Acts 10 declares that there are no laws of ritual cleanliness for Christian even bringing up the shellfish/pork argument allows anti abortionists to dismiss you and refuse to engage. (This is the case also when arguing about homosexuality, there is a brief response to the actual Levitical view here.)
So my first bit of advice, do not get into Leviticus they are laws designed for the priestly caste in ancient Israel they may seem odd or ridiculous to us, but then so do many things other cultures do or did. They are unlikely to be what an anti abortion protester will be basing their opposition on anyway.
People are far more likely to quote
Now these are arguments about when life begins. I do not think you need me to tell you they are so entrenched that they are unwinnable. Indeed I have come to believe that those who argue that abortion must have no time limits at all may be right, because once we start arguing about 12 versus 20 weeks everything turns on subjective opinion and the cute v the squick factor.
Now you may think that the solution is simple, tell those who believe Isiah and Jeremiah that they are wrong, that there is no God and that there deeply held beliefs are bunkum. Hmm how’s that working out as an approach?
You are not going to convince someone of the superiority of atheism, and frankly I think a lot of people need to look at themselves and consider why they even want to. Respect for the beliefs of others underpins modern western democracy.
So what approached might be more productive? How might you say things to Christian anti abortionists that may at least cause them to have to engage with you,and once you are debating then who knows what might happen. Remember every protester talking to you is one less to harass women trying to enter clinics.
The public prayer.
This seems a common tactic, people going to BPAS, Marie Stopes and others and praying claiming they are doing so for the women and babies. This is one of the easiest tactics to question and they have no defense.
New International Version(©1984)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Mathew 6;5
New International Version(©1984)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Mathew 6;6
Christians are told not to draw attention to their prayers by Jesus, even more so they are told that if they do so their prayers will not be answered, they are negating their own desires for the women to have changes of heart by praying in public!
I would suggest asking those who pray publicly how they reconcile this with Mathew and with Luke 18. A follow up question could be along the lines of why they think God needs them to be on the streets to pray. Remember you are accepting their faith, the issue here is not religion, but abortion. The question of why they need to be on the street to pray is one that it is worth trying again and again, as there is no Biblical defense.
Let him without sin cast the first stone.
A saying we all know, it comes from this passage.
8 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8. 1;12
I have put the whole passage because this is a central tenant of the Christian faith, we are all sinners. When I asked for the kind of things that anti abortionists said, sin and hell were both mentioned. Remember the woman in this is a criminal by the laws of the time, there is no argument about justification, penance, punishment. You do not need to memorize it, simply the theme, no one can condemn another, and John 8.
Should they at any point mention the “sin” of the women, the workers, those involved in contraceptive advice or planned pregnancy then they are forgetting this central tenant of their faith. Push this one. The idea that we all sin is one that every Christian denomination holds too, the sacrifice of Jesus would be meaningless without the idea we need saving. Trt to get them to admit their sin, you may not share their belief, but challenging their idea they are more saintly than the people attending clinics is likely to get a response. Other non judging quotes quotes. are here . I especially like
Ezekiel 16:52-56 You also, which have judged your sisters, bear your own shame for your sins that you have committed more abominable than they…
A side note here, whenever someone starts saying , oh but that is out of context, you have them on the run, that’s the argument of us liberal Christians, if they start saying the Bible needs to be read with an understanding of context, you are winning.
Knowing the mind of God.
Just the title should hint where this is going. They cant, should end that debate shouldn’t it? However the point of this is to equip you with quotes and theology so you can challenge them on their own ground, so rather than just saying “Go read Job” which they should, but won’t because it is challenging and harder than harassing women on street corners here are some pretty fundamental quotes.
Job 21:22 ”Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?
1 Corinthians 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.Jeremiah 23:18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?
I could go on, but you get my point. We cannot know what God thinks, so if they say God has condemned these women, or told them to attend the protests asks them how they know. You will probably get referred to the top of the page, Jeremiah and Isiah again, but as I have already said, if they are talking to you they cannot be threatening and abusing women. Oh and this may be underhand but if they say God does not want babies to die, you might mention the fall of Jericho and campaign against Midian.
This is I am sure not an exhaustive list, please feel free to add anything of a religious basis protesters have quoted or said to you, placards or leaflets, in the comments, and I will do my best to find sound theological arguments against them. As I say at the top who knows how useful, or useless this is. I consider it a resource that even if just one incident where a woman is shamed, harassed attacked, is avoided, it has been worth writing.
To fellow Christians
Some of you may end up here and doubt me when I say I am a Christian, wondering how you can be therefore pro choice. I personally do not think I would choose to have an abortion, but I am not so arrogant as to believe I can know how I might be challenged in the years ahead. I do know that my faith is based on love, compassion and Mathew 25. There is no room in that for picketing abortion clinics or judging others. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments, but use of the term baby killers may mean your comment is treated with the contempt it deserves.