Pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf gives a compelling and logical defense for the value of pre-born life, and encourages listeners to be equipped and ready to share the truth about abortion to a world that desperately needs to hear it.
Scott Klusendorf: What makes humans equal? Simply this: we all have the same human nature. And men and women, you had that human nature from the moment you began to exist.
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John Fuller: That’s Scott Klusendorf, and you’ll hear more from him today on Focus on the Family about the value of all human life. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus on the Family President, Jim Daly. And Jim, we have a really powerful presentation today for our listeners.
Jim Daly: Yeah, we do, John. And on the issue of saving pre-born babies, the conversations have been ramped up in recent weeks because of outrageous legislation in New York that allows 3rd trimester abortions for almost any reason, and, uh, proposed legislation elsewhere, too. So we’ve come to a defining moment in our nation’s history on the protection of pre-born babies. And we must be a voice for the voiceless children, for these innocent little lives. That’s why Focus on the Family has started a campaign to better inform and equip listeners to take a stand for pre-born children, and why we’ve made big plans for New York City coming up.
John: Well, that’s right. We’re calling it “Alive from New York,” and we’re planning to show a live, 4D ultrasound on the big screen in Times Square on Saturday, May 4th.
Jim: And we want people to clearly see that the image on the screen is a baby. And there’s nothing like a 4D, 3rd-trimester ultrasound that will show you a child sucking its thumb. I mean, it is incredible clarity. And we want people to join us in New York for the events we’re planning on May 4th and to sign a “Declaration for Life” at our website to let government leaders and others know that we care about all human life.
John: You can read more details about the event, and sign “The Declaration for Life,” and find out more about what you can do for the pre-born at our special website, focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Focusonthefamily.com/prolife.
Jim: Well, Scott Klusendorf is our guest today, and he’s a strong, pro-life advocate. Um, he’s the president of Life Training Institute. And I don’t know anyone who can better articulate a reasonable and respectful defense of the pre-born baby than Scott. This presentation is going to grip you and you’re gonna wanna take notes.
John: Mmhmm. Yep. And Scott and his wife have 4 children. He’s written an excellent book,. We’ve got that at the website. And right now, let’s listen to Scott Klusendorf as he was speaking to the Focus on the Family staff.
Scott: A few years ago I had my youngest son, Michael, with me in London. I was over there speaking on pro-life apologetics and we had a day off and we went to the Imperial War Museum. Are there any history buffs with us here today? If you love history, you simply must go to the Imperial War Museum.
They have a Spitfire hanging from the ceiling - the plane that helped save the West in 1940. You wonder why this chapel service is not being conducted in German today? One of the reasons is the Spitfire, and a little overweight guy named Winston Churchill, who liked cigars.
But as we were there at the Imperial War Museum, we were waiting to get in and we were early. And so, they had us queued up and they had us looking at a series of photographs they had placed strategically at the entrance to the museum, and they were pictures of the evacuees.
How many of you have seen or read the Narnia series? Why are the children in the country? Well, Hitler was bombing central London. In fact, he wanted to intentionally kill children. Churchill said, “We gotta get the small children out of here,” and they were put on trains at Paddington, Waterloo, Charing Cross and you’ve probably seen the pictures, the black-and-white photos of those little kids, some of them as young as two, with little numbers they’re holding. And they’re holding hands and they’re on the platforms there at the rail station and many of them are going to leave London and never see their parents again.
And I’m explaining this to Michael and as I am, I feel a tap on my shoulder and I turn and here’s this short little woman in her late 70’s, I’m guessing. She points at one of the photographs and says, “I was one of those children.” I grabbed Michael by the lapels. I yanked him over and said, “We will listen to what this woman is about to tell us!” I said, “Tell me your story.”
She said, “In August of 1940, my parents put me on the train at Waterloo, and I never saw them again.” “Go on.” She said, “Eleven nights later, London was subjected to a horrific bombing raid, and my parents were killed.” I said, “What happened to you?” She got a big smile on her face, and she said, “Oh, I had a good life.” And listen to her words. She said, “The family that took me in just stepped up and adopted me.”
At this point, I’m bawling and Michael’s bawling, ‘cause I got him by the neck.
But notice her words, “They just stepped up and adopted me.” And I want to talk with you for a few minutes about stepping up to defend life.
I realize, men and women, we live in a culture today where to be pro-life is not greeted with applause. I realize where for many of us, we fear that we can bring anything of value to the abortion debate. And I want you to know that as scary as it might be to defend life, surrender’s not an option, and not only that, you can make a difference where God has placed you.
And the reality is this topic of stepping up to defend life is significant for every one of us in this room because the days of believing a handful of professional pro-life apologists will be able to carry water for everybody else are over. We have all got to step up.
Now, what’s an “apologist”? I oughta define that term. An apologist is not someone who runs around and says he’s sorry all the time. That’s what husbands do.
An apologist - listen to you ladies self-righteously laughing. We’ll deal with your pride in a few minutes.
An apologist is someone who makes the case for what he or she believes. You lay out arguments. You follow the command of 1 Peter 3:15 to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you, to do it gently, but to do it persuasively.
Why is that needed? Because we can no longer assume that the next generation has absorbed our worldview, or that they’re being taught it. Every summer I come out to Summit Ministries, the finest Christian worldview camp for teenagers anywhere in the world. I come out every two weeks and I teach a session on pro-life apologetics. And for the last three years, I have been asking the students a question. These students come from some of the finest churches in America. I ask a question at the end of my time with them. I say to them, “How many of you before today, in your churches, ever heard a presentation equipping you to defend the pro-life view?” Out of 180 students present at each session, I’m lucky to get 12 who raise their hands.
If I refine the question further and say, “How many of you have been taught about how we ought to respond as Christians to things like doctor-assisted suicide, reproductive technologies, things like that, genetic enhancements?” I’m lucky to get two or three hands that go up. This is something we’re all going to have to own - taking up the responsibility, stepping up to defend life.
Two years ago at the University of Georgia, we were filming a television series called, “Life is Best” and one of the things we did in this series is go out and interview students at the university campus. And I would just have conversations with ‘em. And we met a lot of Christian students, you might be surprised to learn.
A lot of them would sit down with me and I’d start talking to them about abortion. We quickly discovered two things. They didn’t really know how to defend the Christian worldview on abortion, but even more disturbingly, they had no idea how the issue of abortion linked to the Gospel. No one had stepped up and told them how that works.
And that’s a shame, men and women, because our case is so clear and so persuasive and so simple. Here’s the pro-life case. You’ve wondered, “Well, what exactly is the pro-life argument?” Let me give it to you in a syllogism. “Syllogism” sounds like a big word. It’s just a series of statements followed by a conclusion.
Here’s the pro-life syllogism: Premise one, it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Premise two, abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Conclusion, abortion is wrong. That’s our argument. It’s very clear and to the point. And I have some good news for you today. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. You don’t have to have gone to grad school. You don’t even need a college degree. You don’t even need a high school degree to be persuasive on the pro-life issue.
What you need to do is know how to ask three key questions and answer them persuasively. And if you have a handle on these three questions, God will use you, wherever He places you, to make a difference for time and eternity.
You know, my friend Greg Koukl puts it real well. It’s not our job to close the sale, when we talk to people. We often think whether it’s evangelism or pro-life that, “Man, if that person doesn’t fall on their knees and say, ‘By golly, I’ve been wrong all these years. Where can I sign up to repent?’“ that somehow we’ve failed.
The reality says - Greg is - “Our job is to put a pebble in their shoe.” Have you ever had a pebble in your shoe, when you’re out hiking? It’s going to wear on you and wear on you, until you deal with it. And these three questions we’re about to look at will help you be a defender of human life, help you make a case for life and step up in a world that desperately needs to hear the truth of our position and they need all of us onboard. All hands on deck.
So, here are the three questions that we need clarity on. Number 1, “What is the unborn?” And I’ll explain why that question is critical. Number 2, “What makes humans valuable?” And Number 3, “What is our duty?” If you get a handle on those three questions, God’s gonna use you for time in eternity.
Let’s look at that first question, what is the unborn? The reason why this question is so, so critical is many people today simply assume the unborn aren’t human. They don’t argue for it. They just assume it. By the way, this is an age-old problem, when there’s a victim class we want to exploit. We don’t generally argue against their humanity; we just assume they’re not one of us.
How do we help people see that the issue is not choice, not privacy; it is what is the unborn? And one of the ways I do that is to help them see that they are assuming things about the unborn they would never assume about a toddler.
So, for example, someone may say to me, “Why don’t you trust women to make their own personal decisions?” I don’t get defensive. I don’t start backpedaling. I don’t get nasty. The first words out of my mouth, I’ll say, “Pretend I have a 2-year-old in front of me. His parents want to rough him up in the privacy of the bedroom. Should we trust them to do that?” The person will, of course, say, “No, you can’t do that.” And my reply is two words. I ask, “Why not?” “Well, because he’s a human being.” “Ah, if the unborn are human, should we rough them up in the name of trusting women?” “Oh, that’s different. The unborn aren’t human. The toddler is.”
Ah, that’s the question we’ve got to resolve. We call this tactic, “Trotting Out the Toddler,” and you can use it. You’re not arguing the unborn are human. You’ll do that later. You’re simply showing that’s the issue. Are the unborn human like that toddler? And it works for a host of issues like privacy, choice, anything you want to trot out. People simply assume the unborn are not human. We cannot allow them to do this. They would never argue for trusting women if the choice was killing a toddler; only with the fetus do they argue that way. And our job is to clarify that assumption. Bring it out into the open.
Well, I’ve raised the question. I’ll answer it. What is the unborn? Now I’m going to warn you, I’m not going to go to the Bible for the answer. I’m going to go to the science of embryology, because the question, “What is the unborn?” is an empirical question. We’ll go to the Bible in a minute, but not just yet.
What is the unborn? Here’s the answer from the science of embryology. From the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living and whole human being. I want all of you listening to me right now to hold your hands out like this, and I want you to begin pinching yourself. Give yourself a good pinch. If your neighbor isn’t doing it, grab some skin cells off the back of his neck. That’ll wake him up. Alright.
Congratulations. You just sent a couple of hundred somatic cells hurling to their deaths on the lap in front of you. Did you just commit mass homicide? Well, wait a minute. Each one of those cells contains your entire DNA encoding. But you didn’t commit mass homicide. Do you know why? Because you know that each of these cells are merely part of a larger human being - you. They are not distinct, whole living beings the way you were when you were an embryo, the way I was when I was an embryo. There is a difference in kind, between each of our bodily cells and the embryonic human beings we once were. That’s the science of embryology.
Why is this difficult for people? Well, one reason is, if we’re honest, our intuitions have trouble connecting with that little ball of cells that we each were at one point. We look at that little ball and think, “Boy, I - I see that, but I know what the science says, but it’s hard to believe that’s me back there.”
But let me give you a little example that will help. How many of you will admit you remember the dark days of photography, when you had to take your film to Fotomat? Do you remember those dark days?
Now for those of you under the age of 50, let me tell you about something that appeared on the scene that was the salvation of our - our souls at that time. In 1970, Polaroid cameras came on the market. Polaroid cameras were these terribly ugly, awkward-looking things. They looked like something Satan had invented, but they had an advantage. You didn’t have to wait for your films.
You see, for those of you that are younger, in the old days, what happened was, you would shoot your pictures, it would be recorded on this stuff called “film,” pre-digital time here. You would then wait till you had shot 24 pictures. Then you would take the film out of the camera, drive to the far corner of the supermarket parking lot to this little shack called Fotomat, where you would drop off your pictures, wait a month and a half for them to come back over-exposed.
Do I speak truth?
Polaroid allowed you to get your picture instantly. Now let’s pretend it’s 1970. You’re on a safari. You have a Polaroid camera. You’re on a Mexican safari, and you just happened to shoot a picture of a black jaguar leaping across the trail in front of us. Nobody films black jaguars, but you did.
And as you’re excitedly waiting for that picture to emerge, you would - you’re - you’re going, in 90 seconds I’m gonna shoot - I shot this picture. It’s gonna come out of the camera. I’m gonna pull the paper out of it. I’m gonna wait 90 seconds, and it’ll be there. And while you’re waiting for it to develop, I yank the camera out of your hands. I rip up the picture. Are you angry at me?
What if I said to you, “There’s no jaguar there. That’s just a white paper with a brown smudge on it.” Would that satisfy you? Not in a million years. You would look at me with fire in your eyes, and you would say, “Are you out of your mind? The jaguar in the picture was already there. We just couldn’t see him yet, because he was still developing.”
Men and women, from the earliest stages of development, you were already there. We just couldn’t see you. That’s the science of embryology. The science is clear. It’s so clear, that almost no one today will dispute it. But science alone will not get us where we need to go. Science alone will not tell us why we should not harm the unborn, and that leads us to our next question. What makes us valuable?
I want everybody to look around the room right now. Go ahead, just stare at some people. If there’s any single guys here and you saw some cute girls you wanted to stare at, now is your sanctified moment to look.
Go ahead and stare. Don’t laugh. I met my wife that way.
Alright? Question, what makes us equal? Is it physical ability? If so, we have a problem, because we’re not all equal, physically. At 56, I can still shoot three pointers, but I don’t get open to shoot three pointers in basketball games, so I’m content with playing Horse.
Are we all equally self-aware? No, we’re not. Are we all equally in possession of a high IQ? No we are not. If those things give us value and we don’t share them equally, guess what just happened to the concept of human equality? It got thrown on the ash heap of history.
There’s only one thing we all share equally in this room. We all have the same human nature that bears the image of our Maker. If you ground human identity in our capacities, which may come and go, and that none of us share equally, you’ve got a problem.
That’s why pro-life Christians can answer the equality question. Our secular critics can’t. We can. What makes humans equal? Simply this: we all have the same human nature. And men and women, you had that human nature from the moment you began to exist.
There’s only four differences between you - the embryo - and you - the adult. And not one of those differences is a good reason for saying you could be killed then, but not now. And as Steven Schwartz points out, if you think of the acronym SLED, you’ll remember these four differences - size, level of development, environment - meaning where we’re located - and degree of dependency. Not one of those is a good reason for saying, “You had no value as an embryo, but you do today.”
Size - you were smaller as an embryo, but since when does body size determine value? Men are generally larger than women. We don’t think they deserve more rights than women do. What about your level of development? Were you less developed as an embryo? Of course, but two-year-old girls are less developed than 21-year-old young women. Two-year-old girls do not have a developed reproductive system yet. It doesn’t follow they’re less human and valuable because of it.
Size, level of development - what about environment, where you were located? You were in the womb; now you’re out. How does where you are determine what you are? How does a journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly transform you from non-human, non-valuable thing we can kill to valuable human being that we can’t?
What about doctors who do fetal surgery? They remove the child mostly from the womb, do the surgery to fix a herniated diaphragm, and then put the child back in the womb at 24 weeks to be born normally at 40. Does that child go from being non-human to briefly being human, back to non-human again when it goes back to the womb?
Size, level of development, environment. What about degree of dependency? Sure, you depended on your mother, but since when does dependency on another human being mean that we can kill you? Conjoined twins will share each other’s vital organs, but we don’t intentionally kill them because they can’t live independent of one another.
Size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency, think SLED. Those four differences are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then, but not now.
Now, I want you to take a journey into the future. It is next Thanksgiving. You are at your Thanksgiving table, and your neighbor is your guest, and he does not support your pro-life view. In fact, your neighbor, who we will call James, is actually quite pro-abortion.
And while you’re sitting there eating your turkey, he turns to you and says, “Now, why are you pro-life?” Here is how you’re going to answer him in one minute or less. And every one of you here will be able to do this.
“James,” somebody time me, by the way. “James, I’m pro-life, because the science of embryology says that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct living and whole human being. And you know what else, James? There’s no essential difference between that embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you back then. Differences of size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then, but not now.” Did I get that done in a minute? Did anybody time me? Where did I come in on that?
Audience member: Thirty seconds!
Scott: Thirty seconds? I think you need to give it up for me. That was pretty good. That was...
What is our duty? We’ve answered the question, what is the unborn? The unborn is a distinct, living, whole human being. We’ve answered the question, what gives us value? It’s not our functions, which vary greatly. It’s that we all share the same human nature. So, what’s our duty in all this? Our duty is to love our unborn neighbor and his mother. And men and women, that won’t always be easy.
In Luke chapter 10, Jesus tells the story of a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He’s beaten up and left for dead beside the road. Two religious leaders pass right on by, and though they would’ve felt pity for the beating victim, they didn’t take pity. And Jesus said, “That’s not good enough.” Only the Good Samaritan stepped up and took pity and Jesus said, “That’s what it means to love your neighbor.”
I want you to think of that family in England that stepped up and adopted that girl in 1940. In 1940, men and women, England was facing extinction. Hitler had Europe. We weren’t in the war. We were a long way from being in the war, and we weren’t providing much help. Britain stood alone, and it would’ve been very easy for that family to say to themselves, “Our food is being rationed. Our petrol is being rationed. We don’t even know if our nation’s going to survive.”
No, that British spirit came out in them, that British spirit that says, “We will do our duty.” And they stepped up and took that girl in, despite all terror, despite all challenges, and they did it because it was the right thing to do.
You will face those who lash out at you for being pro-life. You will have people who do not like what you say, but your job is not to worry about whether you convinced them on the spot, though sometimes that will happen. Your job is not to worry about results. Your job is to step up, put a pebble in their shoe. Be a faithful ambassador for Jesus, and let a sovereign God take your words, and let those words wreak havoc in their hearts, for good. And I’m calling on you, men and women, to step up this day and do your duty. We are all apologists now, and I invite you to join me in the trenches. Let’s together go out there and give ‘em heaven. God bless you.
John: Scott Klusendorf on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And Jim, you and I were there for that staff gathering, and Scott delivered such a powerful message.
Jim: He did, and I love that statement he made, “Put a pebble in their shoe.” Put a pebble in their shoe and let the Holy Spirit do His work in their heart. The truth really is on our side. There’s no denying that all human beings are created by God and are unique and valuable, certainly in His sight. And Scott has done a great job of explaining that to us.
We wanna remind you of our big campaign here at Focus on the Family to inform and equip you to stand up for pre-born babies. That includes our “Alive from New York” event where we plan to be in Times Square, right there in New York City, on Saturday, May 4th. We’re making plans to show live, 4D, third trimester ultrasounds that will declare to the world, “This is a viable baby we’re talking about.” Um, I also urge you to sign our “Declaration for Life” at our website to let government leaders know that we’re standing up together for the pre-born child. And we have that Declaration for you right there online to sign.
John: Donate, get Scott Klusendorf’s great book and a CD or download of this message, and find everything you need to get involved. We hope you can join us on May 4th. All the details at focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Again, focusonthefamily.com/prolife. You can also call for details and to make a donation. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY - 800-232-6459.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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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.