Josh Brahm from Charlotte, North Carolina, works for the Equal Rights Institute and sees his job to be to “help pro-lifers be less weird”.
This means connecting with people who think differently, and engaging in a dialogue where the other person can feel emotionally safe. It’s not only about trying to appear nice, or avoiding awkward social situations, Brahm reminds us. Most people don’t change their views after one discussion, no matter how good arguments you may have. Reconsidering one’s opinions takes time and can usually happen only in a relationship that feels safe. “Cultivate trust. We must be intelligent and virtuous”, Brahm states.
What can pro-life pastors do in their congregations? “I used to think that pro-life pastors are silent about these issues only because of ignorance, fear or apathy”, Brahm explains. “But there are more understandable reasons as well. What if you have someone in your church who has had an abortion? Or those who have pressured someone else to do it? It can be very painful and sensitive issue.” At the same time, things that remain unspoken can grow more fearful. Brahm notes that never mentioning the question of abortion can lead people to think that this sin is so horrifying that it cannot even be spoken of–basically unforgivable. But Christians don’t believe that there are any unforgivable sins, he emphatically stresses.
Brahm poses a challenge to the audience: how would Jesus act in pro-life issues? How could pro-life movement be more like Jesus?
“There are lots of Christian abortions, and those are the worst, because they are not done in ignorance”, Brahm states. “They are done by girls who are absolutely terrified of being found to be pregnant out of wedlock.”
“What if the pastor would make it clear to the church what the consequences would be for a woman who becomes pregnant outside marriage?”, Brahm asks. “It is very possible that the events that led to pregnancy are sinful, but pregnancy itself is not sinful. We must be absolutely clear on that.” Brahm calls the church to truly be pro-life in such situations; that is, to celebrate life together, in light of what Christ has done for us through his forgiveness. “We must have the same attitude Jesus had with the woman caught in adultery”, Brahm states.
Public opinion and legislation in Canada is turning so strongly pro-choice that it has began to be anti-pro-life. What is Brahm’s advice to Canadians?
“Campaign for freedom of speech”, Brahm stresses. The younger generation is beginning to realize the importance of free speech, regardless of your own religion or opinions. By strengthening and protecting the freedom of speech, the issue of pro-life can continue to be discussed. “Argue that it is all right to keep on discussing these matters, even if they seem to be settled already”, Brahm encourages. “Keep the issue alive, even if it looks like it’s not going somewhere. The history of the human rights movement has shown that changes happen slowly, but eventually they do come.”