Engaging the Opposition

As Matt noted in an earlier post, we’ve been busy posting in defense of Life over at Topix. (& here, here and here.)  It’s a very different sort of experience for me; I’m accustomed to posting in forums where rules exist regarding good manners, avoiding profanity, etc.  Such rules do not exist at Topix, it appears.

As we engage in conversation of some description with those who advocate for the legitimacy of abortion, several themes are recurring:

First, the defense of Life is not a one-dimensional issue. It is not enough to state that abortion is wrong; we must explore the entire nature of life, sexuality, relationship, religion, psychology, etc.

Tthe proponents of abortion are sex-obsessed – demanding as an inherent human right sex without rules, sex without restrictions, sex without consequences. Restricting abortion, or criminalizing it, is unfair and unreasonable because it would thwart what they want.  When Matt posed a very reasonable suggestion (You don’t want kids? ever? Then don’t have sex.) he was attacked and insulted for such an archaic and unreasonable attitude.

That brings me to another observation: when pro-aborts are presenting flimsy “evidence” for their position, they find it very easy to personally attack the pro-lifer. It’s my opinion that, if they had real solid evidence for their position, such rude, hostile behavior wouldn’t be necessary. Nevertheless, it is hard to respond to profanity, ad hominems, and insults.

The most difficult aspect of all of this, however, is the discovery that the pro-abort crowd does not believe the unborn child to be a person. Human, yes (we don’t get pregnant with puppies, after all) – and alive – they admit that. But they deny the personhood of the unborn.

This is accomplished by a number of tactics – the misreading and misrepresentation of medical data on prenatal development, particularly in the development of the central nervous system. Then there is an argument about the necessity of respiration – the first breath taken outside the mother’s body – somehow infusing “personhood” into the just-born baby.

These arguments are spurious, at best, but staunchly held by the pro-abort participants on the website – and I suspect elsewhere. Before it is born, the baby is not a baby, or a person, but a “fetus” – used as if the preborn child were some other species of being. And as such, said fetus is not recognized by law, has no Constitutional rights, and does not deserve consideration as a person.

The religious argument will not work here. We Christians believe that the fundamental value and dignity of humanity comes from the fact that we are created in the Image and Likeness of God – that we are souls for whom Christ died only adds to that intrinsic dignity. However, these pro-aborts soundly reject such attitude as nonsense, mythology, ignorance, and intellectual enslavement.

We’ve lost a cultural paradigm as we’ve become a post-Christian nation. My parents’ generation was culturally immersed in the words and morals inculcated in the Scriptures; those values were the norm for the whole of our society. That is no longer the case.

I do not know how to persuade people so determined to reject this fundamental truth – of the personhood of the unborn. All I can hope to do is to – first of all, to conduct myself with dignity and grace so that onlookers might find some respect for the Cause I represent, and secondly to persuade some heart not so wholly hardened to embrace Life in all its reverent glory and beauty.

When we engage in a debate on the sanctity of human life, it is absolutely essential that we keep before us – always! – the intrinsic human value of our opponent. No matter what scorn or contempt she bears for us, we must always respond kindly, graciously – or not at all. We have to give to them the fundamental respect for their humanity that they would deprive the unborn.

If we respond with insults, profanity, or the like, we stoop to their level and sabotage our efforts. After all, if we cannot respect the humanity of people (presumably adults) who have “voices,” even disembodied ones over the internet, how can we demand of them respect for persons they find at least equally disembodied in utero?

We have to model for them that attitude and spirit we would have them adopt toward the unborn.

And always – PRAY.

If you haven’t recently read Matt’s essay, “How to Debate,” please do so – it’s in the tab at the top of the page, here. In my opinion, it’s one of the finest on the subject to be found anywhere. (And, if you peruse the forums at Topix and observe his posts, you’ll see he practices what he preaches.)

4 Responses to Engaging the Opposition

  1. Matt says:

    … and I cuss ’em out when they need it. (just kidding!)

  2. Mary says:

    Go sit in the naughty chair, Matt.

  3. TT says:

    Well, it seems you have failed on all fronts, haven’t you?

    Too bad, I MIGHT have listened if you could have answered questions instead of running away, not succumbed to baiting, and been able to argue without resorting to religion.

    But, you couldn’t.

  4. Laura says:

    As for arguing without resorting to religion – mea culpa, or “my bad.”. Matt’s much better at discussing things in other language than I – religious language is what I know best, am most at home with, rely on for most situations, not just the Topix discussions. In this regard, Matt is very much my tutor, and a good one. I’m a slow learner, as habit goes very very deep (and the religious language reflects not just what I think or believe, but who I am).

    As for the rest of your post – wait a minute, TT. Think. A lot of your cohorts over at Topix have deliberately and maliciously twisted what we’ve said, come back in subsequent posts in other threads and misrepresented what we’ve said, denied we’ve answered questions when we have – ie. – I wrote some posts distinguishing NFP from rhythm, and suggesting that it would be advantageous for a great many women, only to be accused of saying (which I did NOT) that everyone should use NFP and trying to push Catholicism on everyone. I recommended a nonCatholic source, the very one that led me to NFP almost thirty years ago, long before I discovered I am Catholic, and yet that association has been too-conveniently ignored in favor of the Catholic connection.

    Who’s being dishonest and manipulative?

    We’ve refused to rise to their baiting, and we get blamed for it. Have we really declined to answer legitimate questions?

    OR – has a legitimate question been buried inside a bunch of insulting, profane, inflammatory nonsense that we chose to ignore? OR – are you going on the word of the cohorts?

    Also – remember: we have other lives. I’ve seen some of the folks there making a mockery of others’ absences from the discussion, ours included. You need to remember – we don’t have someone else footing our respective bills, so we owe our employers a certain due diigence in exchange for our paychecks. If we’re away from the computer for a day, or a weekend, or however long we are, we’re being responsible in other areas of our lives. Of course, the absence can leave us with an impossible number of posts to catch up with when we return; in that case, a question might need to be repeated.

    But I assure you – we’ve not run away, and we aren’t the ones doing the baiting – unless you consider a refusal to acknowledge a large number of the posts there “baiting.” We want to dialogue, but

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