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Reaching Hearts on Abortion (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 01/23/2013

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Bioethics speaker Scott Klusendorf explains how pro-lifers can use a friendly, logical conversation to promote the value of life, and refutes common pro-abortion arguments. (Part 1 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

John Fuller: I wonder if you've ever been in a place where you just wished you could convincingly describe your pro-life values. On today's "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, we'll have an easy four-point way that you can use to describe the value of every life. And when you share it, you might get this kind of reaction.

Teaser:

Scott Klusendorf: He said, "I've had people give me little feet pins. I've had people give me rosary beads. I've had Evangelicals tell me I'm gonna burn in hell, but I've never had someone explain to me the reasons why you people believe what you believe." He said, "I'm gonna have to think about this."

End of Teaser

Jim Daly: Wow John, that's an amazing response that our speaker, Scott Klusendorf, got after a casual conversation on an airplane. Those discussions happen. And there he shared some convincing arguments for the value of every human life and he's going to teach all of us today and next time that approach to giving a thoughtful response to why we believe in life. You know, many of us believe abortion is wrong but find it difficult to say why, especially if we're talking to someone who doesn't believe in the Bible. And you need to be able to make some logical points for the pro-life position, and that's what Scott does in a very engaging way. This is a message that saves lives John! And we can all learn how to share this pro-life viewpoint with our friends and family.

John: And Scott Klusendorf makes it very easy. Scott is a former pastor and he's devoted himself to writing and speaking on life issues, such as abortion and euthanasia and stem cell research. Today's message was given at a gathering of Pregnancy Resource Center Directors here at Focus on the Family. And for parents who have young children, let me just say this message isn't really graphic but it could lead to some conversations about pregnancy and choices people make about life. With that, here's Scott Klusendorf on today's "Focus on the Family."

Body:

Scott Klusendorf: How many of you would admit, today, that you like to win arguments? Come on ladies, I'm not buying this. I'll ask your husbands if you don't fess up.You know, men and women, we all like to win arguments and our culture right now is having a huge debate over two questions and we as Christians are going to have to decide if we're going to engage that debate or we're going to be marginalized in it. And the debate is over these two questions. No. 1: Is truth true or just a matter of personal preference? Like choosing your favorite flavor of ice cream. Second issue we're debating: Are human beings intrinsically valuable? Meaning they're valuable simply because they're born into the human species. Or are they onlyinstrumentally valuable? Meaning they're valuable for what they can do for the level of functional ability they have.

I was in Denver six days after September 11th. I was speaking at a Christian high school. And I did a talk on abortion and at the end of my talk the first girl to raise her hand with a question looked at me and said, "You are so judgmental. You are so oppressive in your view." Now, never mind I had been very gracious. I simply laid out a case for the pro-life view. And I said, "Why do you think that?" She said, "Because you dare to say that people who have abortions are wrong in doing that." And so I asked her a question. I said, "Are morals real things?" She said, "I don't understand what you mean." I said, "Well, let me make it simple. Is right and wrong up to us to decide, or is it something outside of us that determines what we ought to do?" She said, "Well I happen to think some things are right and wrong, but other people think differently, so I don't want to judge them. We shouldn't judge." Now, never mind, for the moment, that in saying 'I should not judge' what was she doing? Judging me, but I didn't want to be rude to her so I simply said, "OK, can I ask you a question? Do you think the men who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center were evil or were they just acting out their personal preferences?" Her reply, "I think what they did was wrong, but it would be mistaken for us to say they were evil because that would be oppressing our view on them."

Men and women, we are in the fight of our lives. And we are going to have to decide, if we as Christians are going to stand up and give a very loving and yet persuasive case for our view, or whether we're going to be further marginalized because we're not willing to engage the debate. And I am troubled today. If you sensed that, you are correct, because George Barna just released statistics on a major study of where Americans are in terms of their relationship to the idea that truth and morality are real. And I want to cite what he found out. Barna said, "Americans, by a three to one margin, say that moral truth is relative. Meaning it's totally up to us to decide what's right and wrong. 83% of teenagers embrace cultural relativism." Now, the disturbing part. "Only 32% of Christians professing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ believe that morals are objective. Among Christian teenagers, only 9% believe that morals and truth are objective."

I want to talk this afternoon about reaching hearts and minds on abortion. And I'm going to argue that unless we as pro-life Christians, and those of you in the CPC ministries, unless we learn to persuasively defend our view in the public square things are going to get a whole lot worse.

And I think this topic is significant, and I'll tell you why. There are some who think, in the pro-life movement, that we have essentially won the moral debate and that now what we have to do is really focus more on marketing concerns. That our real issue is public perception of the pro-life movement, the moral issues have been largely resolved. In fact, I have talked with many friends of mine, and I do consider them friends. This is an in-house dispute, it's not something we ought to divide over but it is something we ought to discuss. And this friend of mine was saying to me, "You know, I think we've won the moral debate. Women who have abortions agree with us that killing a fetus is wrong. The reason they have the abortion is because of practical problems. For example: Where are they going to live? What will their boyfriend do to them? And if we can just meet their practical needs then we can reach out to them and we will stop abortion in the culture."

In fact, I applaud very heartily one major CPC organization, who, in 1993, had a wonderful goal, a very laudable goal. Their goal was to make crisis pregnancy centers so loving by the year 2000 that they virtually put abortionists out of business by that time. You know what? That was a good goal because we do need to be loving. And I hope you are committed toloving your clients. You're doing a good job reaching out to them and ministering to them. Here's what disturbed me. I was reading through the training manual of a CPC organization that does wonderful work. And I read in the back of that training manual that 80% of the clients they see are not abortion minded. Only 20% of the clients that come into their centers are even considering abortion as an option. That means that the vast majority of women are blowing right by our offers for help and going to Planned Parenthood. And you know what that is? That's not amarketing problem. That's a moral and idea problem. These women don't agree with us that killing a fetus is the moral equivalent of killing a toddler or killing an infant. You know how I know that? Pregnant women who face practical problems never suggest killing their already-born children to solve a practical problem. They only propose killing their fetuses to solve a practical problem. And if they really thought that their fetuses were the moral equivalent of toddlers or newborns, then they wouldn't think that there was a difference in the way that they should relate to the two. Beyond that I will point out that when a mother says to us that she will kill her unborn offspring unless we're able to meet her felt needs, that's not a practical problem, that's a moral problem.

And, today I want to talk about the three moral problems that confront the clients coming to your centers, that confront the culture in which we live. And I want in suggest that if we do not get a handle on these three ideas, we as Christians will be further marginalized and our witness for Christ will not be what it should be on this issue. And again I want to stress, I do not believe it is your fault that most abortion minded women are rejecting your offer of help. The problem is a larger cultural issue that goes way beyond you and I. We're dealing with people who don't think abortion is a serious moral wrong. They say they do, but their rhetoric and their behavior do not match. And I want to talk about what those three ideas are. In a nutshell they are; No. 1–the irrelevance of evidence. The idea that there is no objective truth. Secondly, the intolerance of tolerance. Meaning that if you dare to espouse moral truth on a given issue, people will think that you're not mistaken…. they will say that you are evil. And I will give you examples of that. And thirdly, I want to talk about what I call the immorality of morality. The idea that we're losing in the culture our sense of moral outrage.

I took my youngest son to the park the other day, and actually it's been about a year now, just seems like the other day. You know, you hit 41 and time just kind of vanishes from chronology in your brain. But, I was at the park with my five-year-old son and he's great because if I put him on a swing, I can read a book and just keep him moving. He's happy as can be. Well, a very nice and well-dressed woman came and put her daughter in the swing next to my son and she said to me, "Wow, you must have a great job where you can come here in the work week and play with your kids at the park." I said, "Yah, I have a good job." She said, "What do you do?" I said, "Well, I do lectures on bio-ethics." She said, "Well, oh yah, so you talk about things like abortion and those types of things." "Yah, yah." She said, "Well, you know, I don't like abortion and I really think it's bad. I think it's immoral, but I'm glad it's legal." Now when I heard that I very politely, and please hear my heart on this, I did not get "confrontive" with the woman. Very politely, I said to her the following, I said, "Why do you personally oppose abortion?" She said, "Well, that's easy, because it's killing a baby." Now from that you might think she agrees with our view, right? But let's keep going. I said, "Do you mind if I repeat back to you what you just said? And I mean no disrespect." She said, "Sure." I said, "What I heard you say is that you personally oppose abortion because it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies?"

For about 20 seconds she just silently pushed her daughter on the swing. And she turned back to me, and to her credit, here's what she said. She said, "You know, I have never thought about it like that before. I've been muttering these words, but you're right. It doesn't sound so nice when I take the spin off it." You see, that gal at the park, had never really looked at abortion as a serious moral wrong. She thought of it as wrong, but not seriously wrong. And that's the challenge you and I face. How do we confront that kind of culture? And then I want to propose the three ideas we need to confront. The irrelevance of evidence, the intolerance of intolerance, and the immorality of morality.

By the way, do you know that scripture commands us to argue well? An argument is not saying to someone you don't like, "You know you're not very attractive? And neither is anybody else with your last name." That is an insult. That's an insult. An argument is giving reasons for what you believe. And in 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10, makes the argument in verses 5 to 6 that we are to engage in spiritual warfare. And guess how he defines spiritual warfare? Now, I'm not saying it's not praise and worship, I'm not saying it can't be prayer, but Paul defines it very specifically here. He says we are to cast down arguments or ideas that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. And that's what these ideas are that we're going to talk about today. The first one being the irrelevance of evidence. And what I mean by that is the whole idea of post-modernism. If you wonder what post-modernism is. Very simply, it's the belief that there is no truth. There's no truth. Not only is there no moral truth, there's literally no truth between what we say is so and what actually is. No truth of correspondence.

I was doing a debate outside of Toronto, Canada three years ago now, and at this debate, it was an amazing exchange because it was a two-on-one debate. I like those because my opponents will start fighting with each other, making my job easier. And at this particular debate I laid out a scientific case for the pro-life view. I did not bring religion into it. And one of my two opponents stood up and said, "We can dispatch with Mr. Klusendorf's argument readily because he assumes that there is such a thing as truth. Well, there is no truth." Of course I asked him if that was a true statement (laughter) because as soon as you say that there is no truth, what have you just done? Asserted something you believe to be true. If you're taking notes, that's called an argument that commits suicide. (laughter) It's like saying, my brother is an only child or I can't speak a word in English. As soon as you say these things they're false.

Program Note:

John: Scott Klusendorf on "Focus on the Family" and in a few minutes you'll hear how Scott was able to have a conversation in an airplane that really changed another man's view about abortion. Get Scott's book, "The Case for Life," and a CD of this program when you call 800-The letter A and the word Family. 800-232-6459 or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio for the book and an audio download. Let's return now to Scott Klusendorf on "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

Scott: But men and women, you work with people who think like that, don't you? You may live with people who think like that.

I took a flight from L.A. to the east coast. It's been now four years. And, I do that a lot with my job, but I had a conversation with a guy I'll never forget. You see, I knew he was afraid of flying because he wanted to talk. Most business people, they're out cold taking a nap and that's usually what I want to do. I'll be honest with you folks, I'm not like some of you who want to lead the entire 747 to Christ before you get to where you're going. I'm just not that way. Quite frankly, I become a strict Calvinist at that point. God will save whoever He wants, I'm taking a nap. Well, you know, I didn't mean to start an argument on that issue.

On this particular flight, this guy said to me, "What do you do for a living?" I said, "Well, I do lectures and bio-ethics," my standard cop-out answer when I don't really want to engage and most people won't ask what that is. He said, "What's bio-ethics?" I said, "Well, I do lectures on things like embryo stem cell research, doctor-assisted suicide and abortion." He said, "Really?" He said, "I agree with you." I'm thinking 'praise Jesus' back to the pillow. He says to me, "I agree with you, every woman should have a right to choose." (crowd: Oooh!) That set me off. My wife will tell you that it is hard for me to walk away from arguments once they start.

I said, "Well actually that's not my view." He said, "Why not." I said, "Well it just isn't. I don't hold that view." He said, "Uh oh! I know what you're going to tell me." I felt like saying 'speak prophet.' Ha-ha. He said um, "You're Catholic and your Pope says abortion is wrong, therefore you believe that you can impose your view on me, right?" I said, "No, I'm not Catholic although the pope has written very eloquently on abortion. The Gospel of Life is a beautiful, eloquent defense of the pro-life view, but no that isn't my position that I was going to argue. He said, "What were you going to tell me?" I said, "I was going to tell you that I am pro-life because I believe the pro-life position is true." Men and women, he looked at me like I'd stepped off Mars. He said, "True, Really?" "Yah, T-R-U-E, true." He said, "You really believe that it's true?" "Yah, I do, because there's good evidence for it."

Now I didn't know this but the guy in front of us had been eavesdropping on the conversation and he turned around at that point, spread open the chair, stuck his nose through and said, "You know, I was listening to what you just said." No kidding. Ha-ha. I said, "Welcome to the conversation. Glad to have you." He said, "I couldn't help overhearing what you just said that you thought there was good reason to believe the pro-life position was true. I waswondering, do you have evidence for that or was that just an opinion?" Wrong question to ask a guy who makes a living defending fetuses as human beings. I said, "Sure, I'd be happy to defend that view. First of all, though, may I ask you a question?" I said, "Do you believe newborns are human beings?"

This guy said,I believe once it's born it's a human being." I said, "Fair enough. Would you then be willing to look with me at the four differences between a fetus that you say is not human, and a new born that you say is? And let's examine those four differences and see if any of them are relevant such that we can say it's OK to kill the fetus but not OK to kill the newborn." He said, "You know what, that sounds cool, OK." I said, "There [are] only four differences: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. And I'm going to say that none of those are relevant. Let's take a look at them. First: size. Would you agree with me that the fetus is smaller than a newborn?" He jumped all over that. He said, "Oh, absolutely. How could you call something the size of a dot a human being?" So I asked, "Are large people more human than small people? Men are generally larger than women. Does that mean men deserve more rights than women? You want to try running that by the flight attendant at 39,000 feet? So we went to the next category. We looked at size and I told him to think of that acronym SLED. S-L-E-D.

Size is your first category, then we went to "L" level of development. I said, "Would youagree that a fetus or embryo is smaller than a newborn." He said, "Absolutely. He said, "How can you call something that doesn't even have a functioning brain yet, and it's not even self-aware, a human being?" I said, "If self-awareness and intelligence define us as human beings, that means those that are more intelligent should have the right to exploit those of us whose GPAwas not too high in high school. It would also mean that we are all on a gigantic bell curve. We start off with very little rights of personhood and very little self-consciousness and we gradually gain personhood as we reach our intellectual and physical peaks.

And then we gradually lose rights of personhood as we age. Is that your view?" He said, "No, that's an elitist view." I said, "Well then, why are you imposing it on the fetus? Why?" I said, "A four-year-old girl is less developed than a 14-year-old one. That four-year-old girl does not even have her reproductive system in place yet. Is she less of a person because of it?" "Well, no," he said. "Well then why would you rule out the fetus from being human simply because its development doesn't match ours?"

We went to the next category, environment or location. He said, "You know, until it's born it's not a human being." I said, "Why would you think that?" He said, "Because birth makes it human." I said, "How does where you are have any bearing on who you are? A few hours ago you walked from the terminal at LAX onto this plane. You changed location, did you stop being you? What about when you rolled over in bed last night. You changed location, did you stop being you? If not, how does a simple journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly transform a non-human tissue blob into a protectable human life we ought to value and respect. How does it do that?" He didn't have an answer for that.

We went to the final category, degree of dependency. He said to me, "You know until it's viable it's not a human." I said, "You know, if that's the definition of what makes us human, our ability to live independent of anyone or anything, we've got a problem because there are people on this plane that are not human and we may kill them. How do I know that? Because there are people on this plane who depend on insulin, heart pace makers, perhaps diabetes medication and without them they will not survive. Does that mean they are less human than us?" He said, "No, I don't like the way that sounds." I said, "I don't either. You can see then, there's only four differences, size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency. None of them are morally relevant, are they?"

The guy who started this mess looked at the guy who was eaves dropping and said, "We've got a problem." The guy who eavesdropped thanked me. He was genuinely grateful for my replies and said, "I'll think about that." The guy sitting next to me kept talking and what he said, men and women, broke my heart. Here's what he said. He said, "You know I've been listening to you right-to-lifers for about 25 years now." He said, "That was a remarkable exchange." I said, "How so?" He said, "I've been listening and I've had people give me little 'feet' pins. I've had people give me rosary beads. I've had evangelicals tell me I'm gonna burn in Hell, but I've never had someone explain to me the reason why you people believe what you believe. He said, "I'm going to have to think about this."

Now I'm not going to falsify the story and tell you he converted to the pro-life view on the spot. He didn't tell me that. Here's what broke my heart. Men and women, how is it possible for a man to be around pro-life Christians for 25 years and never have heard one of us explain in language he could understand the reasons that we believe the way we do. That is not a practical problem. That is a moral and idea problem and, we are going to have to decide, are we going to be players in this?

Closing:

John: And with that challenging question before us we come to the end of today's "Focus on the Family" featuring pro-life advocate, Scott Klusendorf.

Jim: John, that is a challenging question and I can't say that I would have answered it perfectly either. So what this is some coaching, how to do it better. It's important to be equipped and that's why Scott quoted the apostle Peter saying, "Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." We need to use that logic and reasoning with people who will not accept a simple response like, "Well God said it and I believe it." That's good for you but that's not enough. We have to reason with them and draw them into the conclusion that we've come to.

And that's what it means to share the Gospel with someone else. We need to compassionately engage with people who are pro-abortion. And some people have been critical of me because I'm doing that and I want to engage them to talk about how to reduce the number of abortions. I think that's a noble cause. It doesn't mean that you give up on your principles when you sit down with people that disagree with you. It doesn't mean you capitulate on truth.

In fact, it's quite the opposite and what I want to do and I hope you too, we want to overwhelm them with the truth and have them give up their principles and to convince them that Jesus is who He said He was. And that Scripture is the ultimate truth. That's my goal and I enter into these conversations. I'm not there to be won over by the pro-abortion community, but I want them to work with me if I can do that to reduce the number of abortions.

John, I think the other key factor here is that people respond to you when you listen to them and respect, but not agree necessarily with their viewpoint. We may not be able to change their minds, but if you can show them some care and respect, you're building a bridge rather than burning it down and that's how I believe, and I read in the new testament, how Jesus dealt with us as sinners. He compassionately works with us and nudges us along. He moves us in a better direction and that's called sanctification. We need that attitude as we engage the culture and talk to people who don't know the Lord. They don't know biblical principle and I think it is a worthy endeavor. And I think the first endeavor God calls us to.

John: Uh-hm and Jim, that requires a certain amount of prayer. You don't enter into those conversations without kind of praying up do you?

Jim: No, you have to John. And prayer is an essential element in this area. This is spiritual warfare and in fact we have a free resource called "21-Days of Prayer for Life." It's a downloadable guide PDF file that will help you pray strategically about key points in the abortion debate. And you know, Focus on the Family is on the front lines of this issue and it takes a lot of staff and resources so we need your financial support. To date we've been able to help save over 370,000 babies from abortion. Will you join our pro-life team and help save more? And when you do, I want to send you a copy of Scott Kusendorf's CD. It's his complete message for a donation of any amount. Stand with us so we can save more people from abortion.

John: Make that generous contribution when you call 800-A-FAMILY. That's 800-232-6459, or visit us on line at www.Focusonthefamily.com/radio and be sure to get that downloadable prayer guide. And finally if you'd like to get more involved in pro-life efforts, markyour calendar for January 26th and 27th, 2017. The Evangelicals for Life Conference will be streaming live from Washington, D.C. Learn more at our website. And be sure to be back with us next time when Scott Klusendorf will continue to coach us on how to present a pro-life position.

Excerpt:

Scott Klusendorf:There is only one question to resolve and that question is, what is the unborn?

End of Excerpt

John: You'll hear the answer tomorrow as we share advice to help your family thrive. Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, and thanks for listening.

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Guest

Scott Klusendorf

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Scott Klusendorf is the founder and president of the Life Training Institute which was established to equip pro-life advocates for defending their views in the public square. A passionate defender of pre-born children, Scott has participated in numerous debates with abortion advocates at the collegiate level, and he has lectured student groups at more than 80 colleges and universities including Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and M.I.T. Scott is the author of The Case for Life and the co-author of Stand for Life. He and his wife, Stephanie, have four children and reside in the Atlanta area.