First Person: ‘Defending’ what you abhor

Reflecting on my public school education, two subjects have provided me the most practical help?typing and debate. The typing reference is obvious to anyone who depends on a keyboard for most of what they do. Debate taught me research, logic, analysis and organization. Tournament competition taught teamwork, overcoming stage fright and flexibility, all of which I’ve used as a minister’s wife in church and denominational settings.

So the report of a California Baptist University debate team refusing to defend partial-birth abortion (see story above) caught my attention. The team wanted tournament judges to know they did not believe in the awful medical procedure that destroys a partially-delivered baby.

I couldn’t agree more with their depiction of this form of abortion. I applaud them for their commitment to be salt and light in a world that needs the answers only God can give. I don’t question if each debater made the right decision according to his conscience. It is not, however, the only decision a Christian could make in such circumstances.

I was a little younger than these college students when I first encountered the abortion debate. A few years before the Roe v. Wade case, I had no idea or even interest in understanding why any woman would seek an abortion?until a friend made that decision. Those were days when the “health of the mother” argument allowed a young, unmarried girl a way around the law. Desperate to try and stop her from taking a life, I became more informed on the subject and sought counsel from my pastor. Neither of us could convince her to halt an abortion that her parents and boyfriend’s family hastily encouraged. Nor did I convince her to consider Jesus’ claims for her own life, praying he would turn her life around.

I can’t second guess what might have changed her mind, but the experience convinced me to learn and prepare to face moral decisions from a Christian perspective.

Upholding a Christian perspective in an increasingly anti-Christian world requires understanding the issues. Every time a debate topic was assigned, our first response was to speculate if the affirmative or negative position would be easier to advance. When opposition to the Vietnam conflict was growing, we worried about defending a resolution on the military industrial complex. That forced us into a research mode that produced compelling arguments we had never considered.

A person who holds a Christian worldview may have little motivation to explore the arguments for partial-birth abortion. A biblically-based regard for the sanctity of life negates what defenders of the procedure can offer. That is because our conviction regarding God as the author of life is more important than temporal values of man. Whatever the circumstances, the partial delivery of a baby to expedite its death is immoral and repugnant.

Abortion clinic sidewalk counselors often captivate pregnant mothers with images revealing the amazing design of a tiny fetus in the womb. All the rationalizations that bolstered her confidence in seeking abortion sometimes collapse when she looks at her decision from the perspective of the child growing within her.

In arguing against partial-birth abortion, it helps to be thoroughly familiar with the arguments for it. Then you can better relate to the person with whom you’re debating and possibly convince her to consider the value of pre-born babies.

I don’t insist that Christian debaters violate their consciences. And yet, even what the California students described as an extreme topic might have stretched them to consider why defenders of this murderous procedure believe it is acceptable. Who knows? Perhaps the debate judge and debaters would have their eyes opened to some light shed on a dark subject.

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