I’m going to say something that might sound controversial to Pro-Life Apologists, like myself. That is this: We don’t end abortion simply by being RIGHT about abortion. Being Right about abortion should not be our only goal.
Apologetics is all about teaching pro-life advocates how to be intellectually secure in their statements and arguments during pro-life outreach and conversations. This is a crucial important requirement for anyone advocating for the preborn. We have to be accurate and intelligent in our statements in order for anyone to take us seriously.
Yet, merely being right in our stance on abortion is rarely enough.
Again, this might sound controversial, but if we think about it, it is obviously true. We pro-life apologists have been RIGHT about abortion for over 40 years now – our bedrock principles don’t ever change; yet we haven’t abolished abortion. What DOES abolish abortion? Winning over the beliefs and allegiance of the people. We don’t end abortion by merely winning the principles, we end abortion by using the principles we’ve won to next win over the people.
Being right and having sound arguments is an absolute necessity for our movement. It cannot ever be compromised. But it’s not always sufficient to make an impact in every situation. In addition to seeking to be accurate and intelligent in our stances and arguments, we should also seek to be PERSUASIVE.
This is because we live in a society where we bring about real change only be winning over a clear majority. It is not whether we are intellectually right or wrong that determines the outcome of our biggest efforts – it is whether a majority of people believe we are right and adopt our beliefs as their own that will determine our ultimate success. Because of this reason, we need to care about more than just being intellectually accurate.
Seeking to be both accurate and persuasive means caring what people think of us. Let me say that again: We, as pro-life advocates, SHOULD have some level of care for what people think and feel. After all, it is the PEOPLE we need to win over. If we make pro-life outreach efforts that are unsuccessful, simply saying to ourselves, “It’s okay that people rejected our ideas because my ideas were nevertheless true” simply won’t cut it.
This tends to make apologists and intellectuals uncomfortable. We don’t like dealing in the realm of people’s subjective emotions and feelings. We much rather prefer to stay in the realm of objective truth and principles. But dealing with people’s subjective-ness is a significant part of what the task before us calls for.
Now, don’t take this point too far. I am NOT saying we should ever compromise the truth for the sake of appealing to people. And I am NOT saying that we should be silent if it might cause people to be hurt or upset. What I AM saying is that we should TRY to find ways of communicating our crucial, truthful messages in ways that will be more appealing. Never compromise the truth, but always look for better ways of communicating it. Look for new ways of communicating the truth that will make it easier for people to accept.
When dialoguing about abortion, always keep in mind that the people we disagree with are the people we’re trying to WIN over. When we do outreach, our central focus should be, “How do I convince this person to join me in the truth?” If this is our attitude and focus, it should be obvious that we need to always communicate with kindness.
Being right does not give us license to be jerks. And having people fighting against you or trying to silence you is not inherently an indicator of success. While communicating the truth soundly and passionately and acting accordingly, we should do everything else we can to be persuasive. Because ultimately, we’re ask them to join us.