January is Respect Life Month in the Catholic Church; this is due in large part to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade that legalized on-demand abortion in the United States. That decision made by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, declared war on innocent humans in the most vulnerable stages of our development. It’s hard to believe that for the past forty-four years the sanctuary of the womb has become a warzone. The ongoing conflict between the pro-life and abortion rights movement has been fought on many different battlefields; legislative, economic, social, cultural, and religious. These are important battlefronts for us to remain engaged, but most importantly we must capture the heart to transform our society from a culture of death into a culture of life.
Sometimes pro-life supporters and advocates (including myself) forget that those in the abortion rights movement have a heart and that we can appeal to it. Often we talk to and about our opponents as heartless monsters. I’m not saying that the act of abortion is any less grotesque – many abortion procedures include the dismemberment of the pre-born child while their heart is beating and capable of feeling pain. Those who procure and promote this great evil in our society are not robots or aliens but rather humans, created with dignity in the image and likeness of God to know, love, and serve Him. It is our task to help uncover that truth for those who cannot see or recognize it.
While supporters of abortion are gravely mistaken about or outright reject the sanctity of life, that doesn’t make their lives any less sacred, no matter how ironic that may seem. The statement is cliché, but we must do our best to “hate the sin and love the sinner.” We need to ask ourselves do we want to win a crusade and lose souls or do we want to conquer the present culture of death by converting hearts, thus aiding in the salvation of our enemies. God seeks the true repentance of sinners no matter how small or great the transgressions.
“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard ‘delay’ but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”~ 2 Peter 3:9
The reality of a populated Hell exists but nevertheless, God desires that all His children spend eternity with Him. As disciples, we can aid Him in returning stray sheep back into the flock. Those who perpetrate murder of pre-born children are not an exception to those covered by His infinite and boundless mercy. Yes, this is a difficult task because so many of those hearts in the abortion rights movement are confused, conditioned, and calloused by misinformation in the media that is spread virally throughout our society creating the current culture of death in which we find ourselves.
Amid the present darkness, how can we be the light and help soften stony hearts? First and foremost we must be prepared and ready to talk about the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death at any time. I’ve been finding myself often telling others “walk through the open door.” It is a mystery to us as to the circumstances and timing of God as He cultivates rocky soil into good ground. Only He truly knows what is happening in another’s heart. However, when the Holy Spirit sets an appointment for us to impact a soul we’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” Edmund Burke once remarked. You might be amazed at where, when, and how the Holy Spirit can use you as an instrument to aid the defenseless pre-born child. It may be outside of your comfort zone but if you speak, act, pray for and defend life God is scattering the seeds of truth upon souls through you. Personally, I’ve had life issue discussions with strangers and acquaintances in coffee shops, classrooms, shopping malls, and on airplanes. I haven’t always been eloquent and I’ve rarely seen immediate fruits but knowing that I’ve seized the opportunity is satisfactory. In every situation, we must remember that we won’t be judged by the results but rather by our effort or lack of it.
In addition to being prepared to speak and act, we must do so with charity. When engaging those who disagree with us, we should be like a mother tending to a wounded child, using enough soap and pressure to sanitize the abrasion knowing it will sting but that discomfort is necessary for her child’s well-being. We can diffuse anger, misunderstanding, and hatred by calmly and patiently sharing the truth and beauty of life with love for our neighbors.
By taking an approach that recognizes the dignity of all life from conception until natural death, even those lives that oppose the truth and frustrate us at times, we will be the most successful in our defense of the unborn. This is how we cultivate a heart for life in ourselves and others, build a civilization of love and stamp out the culture of death. Let us march forward equipped with the shield of faith to defend life with confidence, compassion, and charity.