I suppose this post is primarily for Christian readers, but hopefully it would be resonate in some way with anyone. No promises, though.
There’s a popular saying in Christian circles that goes, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Effectively, keep you priorities in order. We don’t make more important small things than large things. In fellowship with believers it is essential that we have unity in the Gospel, and in answering the question of who Jesus is. It is slightly less important (thought not irrelevant) to be in agreement on the length of creation days or in premillennialism/amillennialism/premillennialism. It would be, therefore, even less critical to share convictions over which particular songs should be sung on any given Sunday morning. We can disagree on things not at the very heart of the Gospel and still coexist.
Unfortunately at times, Christians have the very terrible confusion of these categories, whereby they put the lesser things in place of the higher. “Oh, you watch Rated PG-13 movies? You’re a bad Christian.” “Oh, you think the days of creation were ________ long? Apostasy!”
We also see this with apologetic methodology. Presuppositionalists might argue that evidentialists use an approach that puts the unbeliever in an unbiblical position. Evidentialists might argue that presuppositionalists ignore the example of the Apostles in appealing to evidence. (Don’t shoot me, people. I am just using an example. I am not debating methodology.) While this or that view might be right, I doubt most people would conclude that the person of the differing view is not at all a Christian. To such a person you would argue your position, not present the Gospel as to an unbeliever.
There has been a rather nasty instance of this recently (and not for the first time) at Biola University. A senior nursing student, zealous for her new-found convictions regarding abortion, sought to bring attention on campus to the plight of the unborn. The student, Diana Jimenez, organized a lecture by a pro-life speaker. Unfortunately the event had a pathetically low turn out (4 students).
She wasn’t content with that failure. She arranged to put up a table on campus to supply information to students about abortion. Along with her table, she put up graphic photos of aborted babies. Her table was shut down, after causing a ruckus, because she apparently lacked the approval for this type of display. Not content with a second failure she petitioned to allow her to display the images and was denied. Ms. Jimenez decided to defy the authorities and display her sign anyway. She was again shut down and that’s when things got ugly, resulting in the publication of the article linked above.
There are so many angles to this story. I want to comment on one in particular, specifically as related to my introduction above. Let us put the importance of the pro-life position, that life is sacred, that human beings deserve protection, in the highest place. It should be. My conviction is that the blight of abortion is in our country the worst blemish on our nation in its entire history. I doubt that anyone involved with Ms. Jimenez would disagree with that, either.
But is the use of graphic imagery a primary thing? Is the use of such imagery so important that to not use it, or to not support one in using it, so vital to the pro-life position that not consenting to such imagery would put someone outside of the view? I don’t see how. For full disclosure, I am in favor of using graphic images. We use graphic imagery to convey the horrors of slavery, the magnitude of the holocaust. Because people simply are ignorant of just what abortion entails is further reason to include the use of imagery to make the case. I’ve used very graphic descriptions to aid in this in the past, as well, I’ve shown graphic movies to high school students to the same end. I am adamant that the use of this imagery is a necessity to fully present an argument against abortion. And yet, if someone disagrees with the use of these images, I would think them wrong, but I would not say they are not pro-life, or are actually closet-supporters of abortion.
And yet, this is precisely what some advocates for the pro-life position do. In the dust-up at Biola, Ms. Jimenez was punished for defying those in authority (and whether or not everyone involved was right or wrong is not my point! Don’t start!). She was not punished for being pro-life. But from the very public reaction, you would have thought that Biola was performing abortions on campus. Let’s look at some of the comments just on the link above:
“Another fallen “Christian” organization. The Lord must be coming back soon, before “even the elect” are fooled…”
“Biola needs to be very careful who they think they are opposing. Biola is not messing with Diana Jimenez – although this is bad enough. Biola is messing with the Lord God Almighty and He will always win. I declare you defended, protected and vindicated in this and all related matters Diana, in Jesus’ Holy Name! Keep fighting the good fight and God bless you!”
“Because you are neither hot nor cold I will spew you out of my mouth”
“Christian Biola University is now NOTHING but only just a name. Its Un-Christian examples and practices on these particular set of events prove so! I would now not want to recommend Biola to parents whose children may wish to study there.”
Others have referred to Biola as a Nazi camp, and told Biola staff members that they have the blood of aborted babies on their hands.
So be the decision correct or incorrect, and be it handled properly or improperly, many of the commenters are not only making the use and support of graphic pictures the single, defining thing of the pro-life view and dissenters are not just pro-abortion, or even accomplices in abortion, but they are actually unChristian apostates that are fighting God and will face his wrath.
Such a reaction is a blight on the Christian community and frankly, an embarrassment to the pro-life view. But let’s be serious: every camp has their trolls. Finding ridiculous comments on the interwebs is like picking low-hanging fruit.
Yet, I am embarrassed by the behavior of these proponents of the pro-life view, of my view. And I am embarrassed not only by the drive-by comments but by Diana Jimenez, by the post author Jill Stanek, and everyone else that should be more clear thinking and should know better.
Ms. Jimenez had her new-found zeal for all of four months, per the article. In one act of defiance she has aided in trying to undermine an institution that has for a century stood firmly for the Gospel and for life. She ignores the arguments that do not grant the open presentation of such images (even if they are mistaken). She does long-term damage to advancing the pro-life view, and all this because she’s made the use of graphic images into the defining and central tenet of the pro-life position. Four months of serious conviction and she’s happy to tear down a century.
What an utter shame.