Believing Comes By Hearing
As Christians and pro-lifers, we possess valuable, powerful, life-saving knowledge. And I was struck last week with the responsibility we have as stewards of truth in a dark, broken world. On Monday, we were doing our Pillars of Personhood outreach on Toccoa Falls College campus – our first religious institution we had done an outreach at.
When we hit campus that morning, things were going as usual – general interest and mild apprehension from students at the sight of a large display that contained some (tactfully used) graphic photos. But, gradually, a crowd formed and students became very engaged in seeing the display presented and discussing issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, transhumanism, euthanasia, etc. As one might expect on a Christian campus, most students were unapologetically pro-life. In fact, we had 13 students sign up to help start a pro-life club at Toccoa Falls College, which was hugely encouraging. But there were also some students who were not your typical conservative Christian college attendee.
Two gentlemen come to mind, specifically.
One 21 year old student came by our display at first and cautiously walked through the presentation with one of our peer leaders, Lincoln Brandenburg from the Center for Bioethical Reform. He then left and returned to our education booth nearly 30 minutes later to ask me specifically what a pro-life club would do on campus and then filled out our campus survey. On his survey, he said that children in the womb are not valuable and worthy of life unless there is a commitment from the parents to care for the child. He also said that things like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc., are useful tools to help achieve good results for humanity.
This young man, training at a Christian college, could be your child’s youth pastor someday. Or a counselor at your grandchild’s summer camp. Or a pastor of your church. Those views, which are so starkly in violation of Biblical truth, will influence his teaching and leadership of those under him as he enters ministry. And those ideas have dire, deadly consequences. Reaching students like him while they’re still in the college setting is of the utmost importance, so we can help instruct them on a morally consistent worldview that they can use to protect life rather than destroy life.
The other student was another young man who approached our education table alongside a second student. I engaged them by asking their names, introducing myself and our outreach project, and then asking them what their views on the sanctity of human life are. The one student exclaimed that he was “so pro-life” and wanted to help start a club. Awesome. His friend, however, said he didn’t know what I meant. So I asked if he was pro-life, to which he calmly replied, “I don’t know what that means.” A little shocked, I asked him what his views on abortion were to help clarify for him what we were talking about. After a short pause, he looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I don’t know what abortion is.”
So, we walked over to our Pillars of Personhood display and walked through the stages of human development, asking at what time we are human versus at what time we are persons. He said that we’re human at conception, but not persons until we’re born. When I asked him what was different between our picture of a newborn and a 7 month old baby in the womb, he said, “I know they’re different, I just don’t know what it is.” I then explained that the only differences were size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency, and that those things don’t really determine whether we’re a person. I showed him our graphic photo panel and asked why the black woman was hanging dead from a tree. He accurately recognized that it was her skin color that condemned her – simply because she looked different. We walked back to the fetal development panel and asked if he was denying personhood to a baby in the womb simply because it looks different than a newborn – like what had happened to the blacks, the Jews, the Native Americans, etc. He then changed his mind, right then and there, and said that personhood begins at the moment of fertilization.
Students like this young man exist. They have, for one reason or another, never been exposed directly to the issue of the sanctity of human life, but the cultural narrative that personhood begins at birth is still there in their minds. Without an outreach to show him the truth of personhood, he would go on in his training unsure of his beliefs and unable to effectively lead or counsel others on the sanctity of human life. Lack of knowledge is as dangerous as believing a lie, because both deprive you of any truth to stand on.
That is why outreaches like Pillars of Personhood are so important. That’s why having volunteers for outreach events and educational materials to give out there (and cash to buy those materials) are so critical. That’s why we must rise up and accept the responsibility to share the knowledge that we hold, that all human life is created equal and we are endowed by our Creator with the unalienable right to life.
I challenge you with this: attend Pillars of Personhood the next time it comes around near your city. Buy a pro-life t-shirt and wear it out to the store. Have a conversation with your friends or your family about the sanctity of human life. Donate to pro-life organizations like GRTL. Pray in front of abortion facilities. Preach the truth. Because believing comes by hearing.
Joshua Edmonds is the Director of Education & Technology for Georgia Right to Life, an instructor for the Pillars of Personhood training seminar, a published clinical/social psychology researcher, has worked in political consulting, and served as a committee aide to the state Senate.