On Saturday morning, I attended a protest. I met with over three hundred people outside the local Planned Parenthood chapter to pray for the end of abortion in our country. I’m aware that this issue is a cultural flashing point right now, so I’m launching into this at the risk of stopping a conversation before it begins. I just ask that you hear me out. Truth be told, I had significant reservations about attending this protest. To be clear, I am committed to the prolife position for philosophical, scientific, and (if allowed) theological reasons. That said, I have avoided participating in events like the protest on Saturday out of principle. In this post, I’d like to briefly describe my initial reservations and then explain why I was encouraged by the endeavor.
“Us” versus “Them”?
As I have detailed elsewhere, I want to strenuously avoid contributing to the intense polarity that exists in the discourse of such controversial issues today. Too often, these discussions quickly degenerate into fallacious reasoning and name calling all around. The question that must be asked is, doesn’t the very word ‘protest’ imply an absence of reasoned discussion, a capitulation to the ‘might makes right’ mentality? The loudest side wins? I gave this serious prayerful reflection and here is why I don’t think that protesting equals the forsaking of reasoned communication.
Brokenness with a Message
Simply put, Christians are called to speak out against the darkness that exists in our world. The trick is, we need to remember that this must be done in light of the darkness that exists in each of us. Ultimately, our message must fundamentally expose our own brokenness. We urge people to change their actions with humility because we know we are only broken tools. We are not pointing to realities that we aren’t fighting against ourselves. So, is there a time and a place for protest that can take into account this understanding of who we are? I think our protest on Saturday was an attempt at this kind of communication.
The primary goal of this protest was to pray for an increased awareness of abortion in our nation and to speak out against the treatment of the unborn in clinics like Planned Parenthood. There were many people, like myself, who had never participated in anything like this, but who wanted to visibly demonstrate their commitment to engaging this issue in our culture. As we talked and prayed together, we saw the need for a holistic grassroots fervor to shape our interactions with the uninformed and the apathetic alike. Many were visibly shaken. I heard a man ask God to forgive his complacency and commitment to worthless pursuits. Yes, there were a few (for lack of a better term) ‘patriots’ who came out to protest with animosity and a demonstrably different agenda than the others. These were by far in the minority.
To everything a season
What struck me during this gathering and afterwards was the beautiful fact that God, in His sovereignty, is calling each of us to do certain things at certain times. Indeed, there is truly a season for everything: weeping and laughing, speaking and keeping silence, singing and clinching our fists. We cannot make a lifetime of protesting. We are not made to perpetually bear the weight of the suffering and brokenness that exists in our world. Remember though, there is a time for prayer and fasting. If this doesn’t impress upon you the intense need that we have for wisdom in this age, nothing will. Think of it. At this moment around the world, the mosaic that is God’s church will be weeping, laughing, praying, singing, feasting, and fasting all at once. What is He calling you to do?
Let me know your thoughts about the prolife/prochoice debate in our country today. Are activities like the recent protests unwise choices for Christians attempting to winsomely engage the wider American culture?