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What stops us from getting serious about abortion?
After all the arguments have been laid out, and all the objections answered, after the humanity of the preborn has been vindicated and the unjust nature of abortion been made perfectly clear, after a person has heard the cry of preborn children and can no longer deny that they deserve our help, after we are left with no rational choice but to immediately come to their aid and there remains no good reason not to get serious, most pro-life people … won’t.
Why is that?
FIGHTING TO END ABORTION IS NOT “NORMAL”
My friends, it is because no one else is doing it. It just isn’t normal.
It really is that simple. For more than four decades, we haven’t gotten serious about ending abortion because no one else has gotten serious. The level of personal effort and sacrifice that it will take seems completely out of the ordinary, so out of the ordinary, in fact, that we simply cannot begin to imagine ourselves living that way. What you cannot imagine, you cannot do. This permits us to agree with the Get Serious message, and even applaud it, but then turn right around and act as if we never even heard it.
Call it what you like: the herd instinct, mob mentality or conformity to social norms. It means the same thing. It means that we will continue to live as though widespread, legalized child killing was not a reality, simply because everyone else is living that way. It’s not so much a conscious decision as a profoundly unconscious assumption.
Perhaps this strikes you as an unlikely reason for the widespread apathy we currently witness in pro-life America. Surely fear of arrest, fear of poverty, fear of alienation and above all fear of being different are greater obstacles, aren’t they? While fear is a problem we must overcome, it’s not the most fundamental problem. Before we can fear doing something, we have to accept it as an option, and this is the most difficult obstacle of all.
The curious part is that this has nothing to do with how difficult getting serious may actually be. Human beings are capable of incredible self sacrifice and astounding feats of courage when they feel society expects it of them. This is why millions of ordinary men and women have always been ready and willing to lay down their lives during wartime or in the aftermath of a disaster. Similarly, while Christians in America rarely face persecution, in some parts of the world persecution is just a part of life. We see this principle in smaller things, too. A child who has grown up surrounded by luxury and technology, but with little responsibility, might think something terrible has happened if they were suddenly sent to a secluded farm and had to work hard every day. Yet a child raised in different circumstances might not mind at all. It’s all about what we consider normal, and “normal” is a very flexible idea.
This is, by the way, the very reason that so many modern couples think abortion is their only option. Historically, few people thought of children as an unbearable burden. Even unmarried mothers were always able to find some way to provide for them, and abortion was unthinkable. Yet today, raising a child without two incomes is considered unthinkable, and abortion has become common.
Ironically, pro-lifers fall prey to the same mindset when we assume that time-consuming, sacrificial opposition to abortion is something that nobody, certainly not us, could ever really be expected to do. Canadian blogger and anti-abortion activist Jonathon Van Maren touched on this poignantly when he wrote:
“Herein lies the problem the pro-life and pro-family movement has in recruiting conservative people to engage the culture … There is something fundamentally foreign about ‘activism’. Small-c conservatives and traditionalists do not want to change the world. They want to live in it and not be bothered.” (1)
“Normal” people, especially “normal Christians” don’t do activism. They don’t lay down their lives in defense of preborn children. They don’t make a public nuisance of themselves in order to awaken their communities to the evil happening in their midst. They also don’t forgo their education, change jobs, move around the country, suffer persecution or risk arrest for the sake of a righteous cause. They should, but they don’t. They don’t because doing so just doesn’t seem normal, and it doesn’t seem normal because no one else is doing it. Thus the words written by 19th Century missionary Watchman Nee prove true:
“What is the normal Christian life? … it is something very different from the life of the average Christian.” (2)
This, pro-life friend, is perhaps the greatest reason that the injustice of abortion continues. Not because the path to victory is especially murky, nor even because it is so hard, but simply because it is so untrodden. None of our friends and family are living their lives this way, and to be the first person to take that fatal step, the first person to really get serious, seems unthinkable
HOW DO WE CHANGE?
If we ever hope to get serious about abortion, we have to radically alter our concept of “normal”. This amounts to a total change of mind, a total reorientation of our instincts. This paradigm shift is not going to come easy, but it can come. We must learn to defy the group, to proclaim that what everyone thinks is normal is, in fact, NOT the way a Christian should act when faced with a monstrous injustice like abortion. We must learn to boldly declare that “normal”, in the midst of the abortion holocaust, is something far more sacrificial and far more glorious. At some point, we have to be able to look at those around us, even the professing Christians around us, even our closest friends and family, and say to them “That’s wrong. That’s not how we’re supposed to be living. I’ve learned a better way. Let’s change together. Yet even if you don’t change with me, I intend to change.”
REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES
1. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee (1957), page 1
2. Dear Christians: It’s no longer enough to work hard, raise a family and hope to be left alone by Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews (January 4, 2016)