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 2 of 2)
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John Fuller: Today's "Focus on the Family" guest, Scott Klusendorf gives his perspective about the pro-life movement.
Scott Klusendorf: 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.
End of Recap
John: Well, Scott is passionate about saving lives and he offers an easy conversational method you can use to engage the debate and express the value of an unborn child. Our host is Focus president, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, I'm excited to bring this message to our listeners today because I think one of the areas where Christians come up short, including me, is our ability to defend what we believe. We react emotionally. We get angry, but what we really need to do is be like Paul on Mars Hill, to stand and give an account of what it is we believe. And this is part two of a fascinating program that we started last time. And if you didn't hear it, man, I want to encourage you to get the CD or go to the website and download it so you'll have the entire message.
The ultimate goal of this program is to help you save the life of an unborn child and let me tell you, when we've aired this show in the past, we've heard from folks who decided against an abortion just from hearing Scott's presentation. So, pray in that way with us today that it'll make that kind of impact.
John: And I'd suggest you request a copy of this program in its entirety from us here when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you can listen online and get the download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Now Scott Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute. He's written a book, The Case for Life and today's message was given at a gathering of pregnancy resource center directors here at Focus on the Family. And parents, if you've got small children nearby, please know, this material, while not graphic, is probably not appropriate for them.
Scott Klusendorf: The abortion issue is not complex. It really comes down to just one question. Let me illustrate it with an anecdote my colleague, Greg Koukl came up with. Imagine you're at your kitchen sink and your 5-year-old comes in one day while you're washing dishes and he says to you with your back turned, "Daddy, can I kill this?" You don't think 5-year-old boys ask that question? (Laughter) I've got three boys at home and they've all asked it and usually they've got their brother by the neck, but anyway. (Laughter)
Anyway, what would be the first question you would want an answer to? What is it; what is it? Now dads, I know what you'd say if he's got a cockroach or a snail, "Sure, go have fun; just don't show your mother." If he's got the neighbor kitty, whoa! You see, you can't answer the question, "Can I kill this?" until you answer the predicate question, "What is it?"
And you know one thing everybody agrees on in the abortion debate? You want to find common ground? We all agree, regardless of your view, that abortion kills something that's alive. After all, last time I checked, dead things don't grow. So there's something that's living there. The question is, what is that thing that abortion kills? That's the issue.
This is not a debate about privacy. No one would argue that parents should have the right to kill their toddler as long as they do it in the privacy of their own home. And yet, people would say, "Oh, it's different. Toddlers and fetuses aren't the same thing." Ah, that's the issue, isn't it? Are they the same? Because if the fetus is human like the toddler, we should not harm the fetus in the name of privacy any more than we would a toddler.
There's only one question to resolve and that question is, what is the unborn? Now why is that difficult to answer that question? I'll tell you why. It's because you and I live in a culture whose primary epistemology is television. And let me explain what I mean by that. When I say "epistemology," I mean how we know things. How does our culture learn about the world? Through carefully reading books and coming to a reasoned deliberate decision on a matter? No, they watch TV. TV teaches people that images can be divorced from meaning. That's what television does.
In fact, we are all visual learners in this room. I am, too and so are you. And if I say the name Richard Nixon right now, I can read half the minds in this room. You're doin' this. (Laughter) You know why you're doin' that? Because you and I know Nixon by his image, not by his words. In fact, I was at a pastor's conference a year and a half ago where the main speaker said to these pastors that were assembled, "Pastors, if you're speaking for more than 12 to 14 minutes in your sermons, you're wasting your time." Ten years ago at that conference the speaker said, "Pastors, if you're speaking for more than 40 minutes, shorten your sermon to 35." Now we're down to 12 to 14 minutes.
The fact is that we live in a visual culture where people aren't making decisions based on facts and arguments. They're basing their decisions based on images. Now that doesn't mean we substitute images when we try to reach people. It doesn't mean we use images only and don't use rational argument. But, it does mean we may have to use images to get their attention before we can even begin the discussion. In fact, I would argue very directly that in a visual culture, if you don't first show people abortion, their understanding of it will not be your understanding of it. They will not understand that abortion is something that takes the life of a defenseless child.
I read a cover story on abortion in Harper's Magazine. And in this Harper's Magazine story, a journalist is invited to a Milwaukee area abortion clinic and he goes there to write a hit piece on the pro-lifers that are praying outside the clinic. And while he's in that situation, for about 10 pages, he writes all these unbelievably critical things of the pro-lifers, but then something happens.
Halfway through his time there, the doctor performing the abortion says, "Mr. Journalist, would you like to come see what the fuss is all about?" He goes into the clinic. She says, "Look I just finished a 10-week abortion, which means an eight-week fetus. Why don't you go look and see? You'll see it's no big deal." He goes and looks and in the tray there is a severed hand and a severed foot and it blows him away. And you know what he says? He says, "I was shocked by what I saw. I was surprised by my own sadness. I didn't want to be shocked by what I saw, but when I was, I realized that what shocked me is I felt like I was looking at a version of myself in that basin."
What was happening here? Abortion ceased to be an abstraction for this pro-abortion journalist when he saw it. Now I realize what I'm saying right now is controversial and I am not--please hear my heart--I am not suggesting we divide as a movement over the issue of graphic visual aids, but I think we need to have a very informed discussion about it. There's a right way to use them and there's a wrong way to use them. And I know that there's an objection out there and I understand it. Some people will say that showing abortion pictures is not consistent with offering compassionate care to clients. I disagree with that statement.
I respect those who believe it, but I disagree with it. In fact, I think the question is not, "Are these pictures emotional?" The question is, "Are they true?" And beyond that, I think we need to trust women to look at abortion objectively without deciding for them. In fact, do you know that one of our critics has made that very same point?
Feminist, Naomi Wolf, a pro-abortion feminist, says the following and I want you to hear what she says. She says, "The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers' practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics. But how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images, if the images are real?" And she argues they are. She goes on to say, "To insist that truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images often are the facts of the matter and if we then claim that it's offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted with these images, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view is unworthy of feminism."
Tim Wiesner, Executive Director of Choices Medical Clinic in ... in Wichita, he wrote me recently a letter and I want to just read a paragraph to you. He says, "We have seen over 1,000 women in 18 months of operation. We tell each woman that is coming for us to counseling what options we offer. We include items such as: The Harder Truth video, abortion instruments and a suction machine. We let the clients choose which items to view. We do not force anyone. You simply cannot predict what will strike a chord with a client. Sometimes it's the ultrasound, sometimes it's the abortion instruments, sometimes it's the video or the suction machine.
"The point that I need to make is this: We need multiple points of influence to grapple for the life of that baby. Clients sign an informed consent form prior to viewing any video or graphic materials. They hold the remote in their hand and can stop the video at any time. We've had only one person who agreed to watch the video and resent us for letting her do it. Sometimes it may not influence the client to see a video, but it may influence her friend and sometimes they go back home and bring a friend back to the center to view materials.
Every client completes an exit interview survey prior to leaving our center. Over 99 percent say they would return, that they trust us and that they would recommend us to their friends if they were in similar circumstances. If it's their choice to have an abortion, then let them choose what intervention may help them the most."
Tim Wiesner has positive results. You know why? Because he doesn't force clients to view graphic visual aids. No woman should be forced to view them, nor should we assume that every woman needs to see them. But some women can be helped. They're postmodern learners. They think truth is relative to circumstance and graphic visual aids used properly, with compassion and with the consent of the client, can restore meaning to the word "abortion."
There's a second idea we must confront. Not only the irrelevance of evidence, but what I call "the intolerance of tolerance." I was at a college presentation, Orange Coast College in Southern California. And it's really neat, because it used to be every year I'd get invited to the school to participate in a human sexuality forum. I was the token Conservative victim they were putting up there or so they thought. And they asked me to come speak on abortion.
And when it was my turn to speak, I made a case for the pro-life view and a girl said to me, "You know, I like what you said, but aren't you forcing your views on us?" (Laughter) I said, "Are you saying I'm wrong to do that?" Notice my question. She said, "Well, no, I just don't think you should do that." "Is that your view?" "Yes." "Why are you forcing it on me?" You see, in saying I shouldn't force my views, she was forcing her view. What that means is, is that cultural relativism is self-refuting. It's also, if you're a relativist, it's impossible to say that anything is right or wrong.
That's right, Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler are not right or not wrong. They just had different preferences. One liked to help people, the other liked to kill them. (Laughter) That's all. One liked chocolate ice cream, the other liked vanilla. You see, men and women, if there are no moral objective rules, how can you even say that it's wrong to be intolerant? Who are you to say I must be tolerant? I choose to be intolerant. Will you tolerate that? (Laughter)
You see, there can be no rules if morals are simply up to us. But there's a third problem: If morals are relative, guess what else is the case? Guess what else is the case. You're not gonna be able to live that way. C.S. Lewis put it real well. A man who says there [are] no moral rules will complain if you steal his orange (Laughter) or you cut in front of him in line. You know, try that at the grocery store sometime. Just put your cart right in front of a moral relativist and see what they say. (Chuckling) Don't tell 'em I said that.
But anyway, my friend, Father Frank Pavone, did something none of you should do, but this is a good illustration of what I mean. He was in New York having a discussion with a group of feminists and it was a small group of about 30 of them. Father Pavone is a Catholic priest. I call him "the intelligent bright priest." He's very young and very bright and he walks into this meeting to dialog with the feminists on abortion and he's got his cleric's collar on. And one of the ladies there really started to get mean-spirited. The others were being pretty nice, but she really got intense with him and said, "You know, Father, I really reject you coming here today and forcing your Catholic religious morality down our throats. You have no right to tell us what's right and wrong. We can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong and you have no right to impose any moral position on any of us."
And what she didn't realize is, while she was saying all of that, he had reached over and snatched her purse and he had begun to go through it. (Laughter) Now don't try this. (Laughter) And he didn't say a word. He was just holding her purse and finally she caught on and she said, "What are you doing?" He said, "Oh, I really admire your taste in purses and I just couldn't resist looking at it." She said, "You can't do that." His reply? Two words: "Why not?"
Men and women, that's your reply when someone says you shouldn't force your morality on me. Very graciously say, "Why not?" Any answer they give you will be an example of them doing what? Forcing their view on you.
John: Well, I wonder if you've heard it put quite like that. That's Scott Klusendorf and this is "Focus on the Family." In a moment he'll explain why he believes that graphic photographs can be an important tool in the abortion debate. Now you can get a copy of Scott's book, The Case for Life and a CD of this program, which has his really unique perspectives on defending the value of life when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or get the book and an audio download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
End of Program Note
Scott: [The] final idea we must confront, it's what I call "the immorality of morality." At the University of Illinois, I was scheduled to debate a woman by the name of Eileen McDonagh. Eileen McDonagh is an interesting woman. Here's her thesis, "Pro-lifers are correct that the fetus is a human being. However, just as a woman has a right to use deadly force against a rapist who invades her body without consent, so she may use deadly force against a fetus who invades her body without consent. And you, the taxpayer, have a moral obligation to fund that abortion."
Men and women, we are losing our sense of moral outrage in the culture today. We are losing our sense of moral outrage. Brian Peterson and Amy Grossberg, they're the high school couple that when she gave birth to their son in a hotel room, they smashed his head with a brick and threw his lifeless body into a dumpster. They got two years in jail for that. And they got out early for good behavior.
The same week they were sentenced, a man in Wisconsin was given 10 years without the possibility of parole because he killed 10 cats, but they were "wanted" cats. Do we value pets more than we value newborns? You bet we do. Do we value pets more than we value the unborn? You bet we do.
I'm privileged to work with a man with an organization called Justice for All, who is trying to go reach abortion-minded clients where they are. Do you know that 18- to 24-year-old college-age women are the group most likely, demographically, to have abortions? And David, in his group is working to equip crisis pregnancy centers to have a presence on major university campuses throughout the United States. And they are doing a project that is absolutely remarkable. But what David's group does is, they take large signs, large pictures on panels of aborted fetuses. They put warning signs up on the walkways leading into the campus quad, saying, "If you don't wish to see graphic abortion pictures, please don't come this way." And then what happens is everybody's been warned.
Furthermore, his staff does not yell at people. They are taught to be gracious, incisive, loving and guess what's happens? Abortion-minded women and men who've participated in abortion, are coming to the campus, seeing this huge gigantic display and it is the talk of the university for weeks. They've been all over the United States, 40 campuses; a million students have seen these pictures, up to 50,000 a week see it.
David's staff is loving. They are compassionate. And guess what's starting to happen? Abortion-minded clients are starting to go to local CPCs, because they're being convicted of sin. And as a result, we're reaching the very client we're trying to reach.
Now not all of you have the option of being close by a university campus. But what's exciting to me about this is, we're not waiting for abortion-minded clients to come to us; we're going to them. And David's goal and my goal, is to help start CPC groups on campus that will minister to women with the love of Jesus long after this display is gone.
In fact, I want to tell you a story that highlights this kind of ministry and I'll close with this. There was a man who came and talked to David during the Justice for All display. His name was Clint. And he said to David, "You know, I'm disturbed by your pictures. My girlfriend saw those pictures and she hasn't stopped crying for two days." David said, "Tell me about it." He said, "Well, she had an abortion a year and a half ago. It wasn't my kid. It was the boyfriend before me. And when she saw your pictures, she cried and is still crying."
"And I really would like to know why you gotta show these gross pictures? Can't you get your message out a better way? Can't you do better?" And David in his winsome way, as only David can do, very lovingly looked at Clint and said, "Clint, I feel for you. It's got to be tough for her." He said, "You asked why we show these pictures? Have you ever heard the story of Emmett Till?" And Clint said, "No." So David told him about Emmett Till.
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago, who in the summer of 1954 took a trip down to Money, Mississippi, to spend the summer with his cousins. And as 14-year-old boys are prone to do, he started bragging to his cousins about how many girlfriends he had. And he told his cousins, "You know what, guys, I not only have two girlfriends, [but] both my girlfriends are white." Now in 1954, in Mississippi, that was not something you wanted to broadcast. And his cousins, upon hearing that, said, "We dare you to go up to that lady in the candy store and talk to her." He went up to the lady at the candy store and he said, "Hi, Babe."
And two black men on the porch of that store said to Emmett, "You better get out of here, boy; they're gonna kill you." And the next time anybody saw Emmett Till, he didn't look anything like what he had looked that day, because that night, the husband of the woman and the store owner came to his house where he was staying and at gun point, took him out and the next time anybody saw him he looked absolutely grizzly.
The coroner was so shocked by what he saw, he sealed the coffin. And he shipped it back to Chicago for burial, shipped it back to Emmett's mother. And when it came time for the funeral, Emmett's mother said, "We're gonna have an open casket." The news media said to her, "You can't do that. Do you realize the condition your boy is in? You can't do that." She said, "We're gonna do it, because I want the world to see what they did to my boy." A magazine by the name of Jet published the photo of Emmett Till's body and that launched the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
Two days later, Clint came back and talked to David. And Clint said the following to David. He said, "You know, I was listening to a radio show where they were talking about your display, because everybody's talking about it. It's in the newspapers; it's on the TV; it's on the radio." He said, "I was listening to people blast you for showing these pictures and I started to get angry in thinking 'Yeah, they're right.' But then I pulled over. I couldn't drive any further and it dawned on me why you're doing this." And he said to David, "I now realize why you do this. You're just opening the casket on abortion."
Men and women, I think there [are] three options before us today; three options. By the way, David was able to give Clint Focus on the Family post-abortion ministry resources and Clint took those resources back to his girlfriend and we were able to minister to her. We have three choices today. One, we can have tough minds. That means we offend people. We go around; we're insensitive. We're rude; we shove graphic pictures in people's faces and we basically are obnoxious and proud.
Two, we can have tender hearts. That's a good thing, but there's a danger. There's a danger that we will worry more about a woman seeing an abortion than actually having one. And our compassion can stop us from telling the truth in a compelling way. There's a third option though. We can have tough minds and tender hearts. We need to be willing to be people that God uses who have tough minds and yet, tender hearts.
Men and women, you are doing vitally important work. The pro-life movement cannot exist without you. And (Applause) yeah, you're right. (Applause) And in conclusion, I just hope you'll join me in reaching out to a culture with reasonable, scientific and compelling arguments for the truthfulness of our position. And I'm convinced that if you will do that and you will equip yourself to do that, God will use us and together, we can put an end to this scourge. God bless you for the vitally important work you do.
Jim: And on that positive note, we come to the conclusion of Scott Klusendorf's message to a gathering of pregnancy resource center directors. It was recorded here at Focus on the Family.
Jim: John, I agree with Scott 100 percent and if enough people can see the logic of a pro-life position, I think we can make abortion far more rare than it is today. Even if we can't overturn Roe v. Wade, instead we can hollow out legal abortion simply by having more women choose life because it's the right decision for them. That's the goal. We have to be willing to engage the culture as Scott talked about, to have those discussions and to do it in a way that draws people closer to God's design and God's heart for life.
Let me give you an example. As I mentioned at the start of the show, last time we aired this message from Scott, we got this anonymous note. "I know God wanted me to hear this message today. My husband and I have three kids and now I'm pregnant again. We were very upset and considered an abortion, even though we are Christians. But now we see the truth. A life was saved today. Thank you Focus on the Family." John, man, that gives me chills right now. That is the goal.
John: That is some remarkable impact that God made possible through this program.
Jim: And these are tough decisions. I understand that and well-meaning people are being deceived by those who believe in abortion as a quick fix with no moral implications. So, I want to be sure that anyone who needs a copy of this entire message from Scott can get it on CD and we'll send it to you today for a donation of any amount. And folks, please pray that many, many people will hear this program and understand the points that Scott was making, so that we can make abortion more rare.
To help you do that, we have a free resource called 21 Days of Prayer for Life and it's a downloadable guide that will help you pray strategically about key points in the abortion debate. Get a copy when you get in touch with us.
John: And our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you'll find those resources and more at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And please donate generously to our work if you can.
And finally, if you'd like to get more involved in pro-life effort, mark your calendar for January 26th and 27th of next year when the Evangelicals for Life Conference will be streaming live from Washington, D.C. You can learn more at our website.
Be sure to join us tomorrow when Kathi Lipp offers insights into your husband's personality. She's gonna equip you with simple practical ways to build him up through words of affirmation and acts of service and love. That's next time, as we share encouragement to help you and your family thrive.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Focus president Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller and thanks for listening.
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Scott KlusendorfView Bio
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.