Earlier today on an e-mail discussion list, someone raised some questions about the best ways to spread a pro-life message, especially to a younger audience. I e-mailed a response to part of the question, suggesting the way that I would want to address a pro-life message to children. Since e-mailing it, I have been thinking about the issue a bit more and would be interested to have the input of a wider group. I would love to know what approaches the readers of this blog have found most helpful in this area and which approaches they would avoid.
The following are some of my hastily assembled thoughts from the e-mail:
Particularly when reaching a younger audience, I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better to leave the issue of abortion completely to the side. Ultimately, we only stand against abortion, because we stand for other things.
If I were trying to reach a young audience, I would try to focus almost entirely upon this positive message and even go to lengths to avoid introducing abortion into the conversation. I would want them to see for themselves the preciousness and wonder of life in its most fragile forms (a video like this is a perfect example of the sort of message that I would want to expose them to). I would want them to become sensitized to the needs of pregnant mothers and to the ways in which they and their communities can support such women. I would want to give them a very positive message about the value of marriage and the good ends of their sexuality. I would want to teach them how to attend to the ‘least’ in their communities in a way that would make them recognize when vulnerable parties are suffering as the escape valve for the tension of our injustices. I would always want to relate things to the concrete lives of their communities, rather than to abstract ‘issues’ or political conflicts. I would want to expose them to Christian examples of fatherhood and motherhood, who could explain the character of those vocations in a realistic but compelling manner. I would want to usher them into a realization of their own value as creatures made in God’s image and what it means to ‘nourish and cherish’ one’s own flesh, whatever its form or appearance. I would want to give them a deep sense of God’s delight in and concern for his creation, his grace and forgiveness, his profound goodness, expansive welcome, and the way that he wants us to be the ministers of these things to others.
I have blogged on the subject of abortion before. It is an issue that I would like to address in much closer detail at some point in the longer term future, from a range of different theological angles. At this point, however, I would love to hear from you. Which approaches have been most successful in your experience? How have you taught ‘pro-life’ values to your children? Are there any organizations whose work and example you would especially commend in this area?
I think that affirming life, and focusing on God’s idea of wholeness goes along way here. It’s not that we are some how hiding the concept of abortion, but we are willing to see that pro-life is more than just anti abortion. Instilling the sense of life being something God is pleased with, something he affirms, goes farther in raising a child to act ethically/orthodox towards people for the sake of their wholeness (pro-life) rather than indoctrinating them into an anti-abortion political stance.
I very strongly agree.
This is perhaps overly Catholic, but this sort of reverence for our God during the nine months before He was born is perhaps important: http://www.unbornwordalliance.com/.
Perhaps we should celebrate Lady Day to combat abortion.
Interesting. This relates to some extent with a subject that I have been giving thought to on and off in the past couple of weeks: the possibility of a rich theology of the unborn that isn’t focused on abortion. Also, an appreciation of the importance of the theme of the womb and the child within it within biblical typology and theology (for instance, exploring all of the themes of pregnancy, the womb, and birth in the Exodus story).
My parents got my sister and me around elderly relatives who were in horrible medical and mental conditions. I’ve never parsed our education but I wonder if their habits in that area were more important than the pro-life march and prayer meetings.
You are probably right. I think that habits, loves, and foundational values and virtues are the most important thing here.
I have children, and I teach them about abortion by saying clearly what it is and showing them the pictures of the dismembered murdered children from abortions. I want them to be horrified by the reality of the utter brutality of it. Of course this is traumatic, but I think it right and proper to be horrified by things that are horrible. It is also important to tell the truth, the whole truth, before the liars and abortion apologists come along with their nonsense that killing children is somehow justified so that women can be free or whatever. A woman losing educational opportunities, or freedom (license) is not horrible nor should we be horrified by it. Murdering tiny babies by the process of dismemberment or any other process should horrify them. I feel it is important for my children to say with their own voice what they have seen, what they know and why it is wrong because once a person takes ownership of an idea and believes that he holds it as his own, he is less likely to be swayed by an opposing argument. Beyond that, I would agree with the mode of teaching that you have already set forth here.
We are deeply prolife, and we have eight children. Every other year (roughly, and with a four year gap between our youngest daughters), we have welcomed another tiny little person into our family, delighting in ultrasound pictures, movements in the womb, sharing the ” baby is the size of a grain of rice” type of development analogies. As the children get older, we do tell about abortion, but i don’t want to scar little people. We donate money to prolife groups, and time, and talents where we can be of practical assistance. this includes helping pregnant mothers or single mothers who are struggling. I did do protesting when our local hospital started abortions – pushing my double stroller and carrying the baby – but they were too young to notice people giving us the finger. I told them we were there to try to help little tiny babies. We have a ton of books on human development, and they all memorized Psalm 139 :). We teach our boys that they are especially to protect their sisters and all women, and we teach all of our children to watch for the vulnerable, the weak and defenseless, and to stand up for those who have no voice. We want our children to see life for the miracle that it is, and be excited about standing with God in defense of the innocent.
Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. That sounds like a very healthy approach.
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