The reason? It was too “offensive.”
Hearing about this reminded me of one of the objections we can expect to hear over the next few weeks, during and in the wake of our 11th annual Chicago Area Face the Truth Tour.
We’ve had a couple of posts recently addressing the role of graphic pictures in the fight against abortion, but in this post I’d like to focus on one particular objection that I must admit I find it hard to get my head around. Namely, the charge that showing graphic abortion pictures in public is uncharitable—and even un-Christian, especially because of the supposedly damaging effects it has on children.
Personally, I find it understandable that the average secular person might get upset upon seeing a display of graphic abortion pictures.
But I’m gobsmacked when Christians try to claim that showing the victims of abortion in an effort to awaken people’s consciences is actually contrary to our faith.
As Christians, we know that Our Lord Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be mercilessly scourged, crowned with thorns, and forced to stumble — battered, bloodied, and grotesquely ignominious — through the streets of Jerusalem before being nailed to the Cross. It’s surely safe to assume that there were children among the crowds that day — these were public streets, after all, and the city would have been teeming with families who had come there on pilgrimage for Passover.
Showing Graphic Abortion Pictures: Unpopular, But Necessary
Just as our faith demands that we face squarely the brutality that Jesus underwent for our sake in His Passion and Death, and to share this truth with our children — “Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6) — our duty as Christians requires that we face squarely the brutality being done, with the full sanction of law, to 3,400 unborn children in our midst every day.
On this day when the Catholic liturgical calendar commemorates the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, we recall that our ancestors in the Faith were decidedly unpopular for proclaiming Jesus “and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). So too, we should not expect to be popular for showing what abortion does to unborn babies. Still, it has to be done.
The very reason we go out there on the streets showing abortion pictures is that so many of our fellow citizens (of whatever religion) need this reminder. They’re not thinking about abortion. Much less are they thinking about those of us who are in the pro-life movement — when they’re not thinking of us as “extremists” who are trying to “force” our beliefs on the rest of society, they’re not thinking of us at all.
If in the wake of our Truth Tours, a thousand conversations begin with “I saw a bunch of anti-abortion Christian wackos today” and end with a frank, and long overdue, discussion of abortion, we consider the insults we have the privilege to bear well worth it.
“Lambs among Wolves”
The reality is that following Jesus Christ is not easy. In fact, it’s extremely demanding, and can be very dangerous — as Our Lord told His disciples: “Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). And, it always requires sacrifice.
Now, if our intent as Christians who show graphic abortion pictures were rooted in pride and vindictiveness, I would agree that doing so is the wrong course of action.
But that’s not at all our intent. Rather, our intent is rooted in love: love of God, first of all, and also love of the babies He created who are victimized by abortion. But also of the parents who are considering abortion, as we do not want them to do something wrong that will cause them enormous hardship, as well as love of those who have previously been involved in abortion, that they may seek the mercy and healing that can only come from our merciful God.
One woman who has been participating in our Face the Truth Tours for years once told me that she never looks forward to going out on the street and showing graphic abortion signs. In fact, she dreads it.
She dreads it because she hates the fact that we have to do it, and she prays for the day that we won’t have to.
When we show the horrific images of what abortion actually is, it comes front-and-center into a community. Precisely because abortion is so mind-bogglingly harmful — and has touched so very many lives — nobody wants to talk about it. As the advocates of unborn babies, and as Christians, we have to break that silence.