By Vir Christi
Abortion is one of the most heated topics of discussion in our country. Anytime abortion comes to the fore in current events, it generates a communications firestorm. There are people on both sides of the conversation who truly desire to do good. With a subject as heavy as abortion, however, good desires do not always translate into morally good actions. There has to be a recognition of some of the good, if misguided, intentions of those supporting abortion, while assisting them where their moral reasoning fails. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to set the example in how we talk about abortion as well as when and where we talk about it. Because we Catholics are sinful humans just like everyone else, sometimes we need a reminder of how to live the Faith on this issue.
Recognize the Purpose of the Discussion
Part of the problem with our culture is that the natural human instinct to compete has been exacerbated by social media. Many people share and write posts with the goal of maximizing their popularity, rather than being interested in the exchange of information. The result is that when we get into a conversation with someone with opposing views, the focus becomes winning the argument. As soon as that happens, the discussion is already lost. Our society has made it so that people want to avoid losing face at all costs. This causes a reluctance to recognize any common ground we might have with the person holding opposing views from us. Rather, we seek to score points with our “public” (our followers, friends, etc).
Pride is a common human weakness, but it is especially dangerous when we are discussing such an important issue as abortion. Our objective is to save unborn children and win souls for Christ—not to boost our popularity or show off our debating skills. If we start a conversation with the goal of making ourselves look smart and making others look foolish, we’re not going to change minds. In fact, we’ll do damage to the reputation of the pro-life side, and the people who witness our behavior may be less likely to listen to other pro-lifers in the future.
See the People Affected
Recall the words that Our Lord spoke to Nathaniel at their first encounter: “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48). Nathaniel was moved not because of any miracle that Jesus had performed, but rather because of that crucial phrase “I saw you.” The deepest desire of the human person is to be seen, in our totality, and embraced with both our virtues and flaws. Too often we miss an opportunity for the conversion of a soul when we do not follow up with women who have an abortion. These are women who will frequently deal with depression and other mental health struggles, and still need to be saved by Christ! Do we recognize them for broken people who need Jesus, just like the rest of us? When you fail to try to see someone, that other person recognizes it and instinctively hardens their heart against you and everyone like you.
Every one of us has made an awful decision at some point in our lives. All of us have either committed or had brushes with mortal sin. If we engage with those who are seeking or who have had abortions from the standpoint of being perfect little saints while they are terrible sinners, we will never win them to Christ. But, if we engage with them as one broken sinner to another broken sinner who knows the power of Christ’s love and mercy and desires to bring them back into that fold, we ignite hope. We awaken deep in their hearts the recognition that neither their circumstances nor their mistakes define them, and the longing for something greater.
Pay Attention to the Setting
Another rotten fruit that has been produced by social media is that we have become more confrontational and less conversational. Go into the comments section of any social media post about abortion; some of the dialogues that take place there can upset one’s stomach. People have forgotten how to properly communicate with one another, and as a result they have forgotten that there is a time and a place in which to have the important conversations.
Here are some good questions to determine if your setting—be it social media, in person, or wherever—is right for conversation:
- Does this person to whom I am reaching out seem like they are venting feelings, or are they asking questions to seek understanding?
- Am I looking to pick a fight with someone who disagrees with me?
- Does engaging with this person help me, or them, become holier?
Because abortion is a sensitive issue, people will frequently jump headlong into arguments about it without assessing the setting. This is because they fear that by not responding right then and right there, they are somehow failing the side of the discussion that they represent. That thinking is not only illogical, but can be incredibly destructive to the ultimate goal of conversion. God chooses carefully the timing and the people with which He brings souls back to Himself; by forcing an argument where you are not invited, you run the risk of interfering with God’s ultimate plan for that person. Just because you recognize a wrong does not mean that you are the person God has chosen to help right it.
Remember Who the Enemy Really Is
A final note of encouragement: remember who the real enemy is in this battle. It is not the person who believes abortion is a good thing, or Planned Parenthood, or any of the politicians that support abortion. The enemy is Satan! Therefore, remember the words of Saint Paul to do everything in love, for the sake of the other person’s soul (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). Do not give in to the hysteria that can accompany both sides, but maintain that childlike trust in God to carry out His will. Finally and most importantly, pray for everyone who has been affected or is being affected by abortion. Nothing is impossible for God, but He works with humans to accomplish His will, so our prayers are helpful even if it does not always feel that way. Trust in Him!
Vir’s heart has been on fire for the Church from day one, and he dreams of the day when Constantinople will be a city again. He has a competitive drive satiated by sports and board games, but is also just as happy to sit down and read a good book for hours on end.