Every now and then I get an email or an instant message scolding me for using Facebook to address serious social issues such as abortion. The content of such messages is always the same. First, the sender claims that no one ever changed his mind because of such a post. Next, the sender claims that such posts are actually counter-productive because they cause people offense, which makes them move away from the position you are actually advocating. A recent message I received seems to put the lie to both of those claims. Accordingly, I submit the following for your consideration:
I met you in the summer years ago when I attended Summit Ministries (www.Summit.org). I’ve wanted to send you a message for a while now, but have been hesitant to do so. In short, I would like to thank you. I was a freshman in college when I went to Summit, and it was one of the most impactful two weeks of my life. However, the year that followed was a dark one. I attended one of the biggest party schools in my state, and was soon consumed by that lifestyle; it quickly spiraled downhill from there. I ended up walking away completely from my faith to chase after all sorts of worldly pleasures. About a year later, I found out I was pregnant. I was 19 years old and very much alone at the time. Shame and guilt consumed me, and the negative, condemning, judgmental reactions of some close friends who were a part of my small group only served to make me run farther away from the church. I was scared to death, hurting, and alone. I had an abortion when I was 15 weeks pregnant. It went against everything I had believed in, but I felt at the time that it was my only option. Afterwards, I coped by drinking heavily and developed a severe alcohol problem, as well as an eating disorder. I was sexually assaulted by a close friend, and was in a very toxic, abusive relationship for far longer than I’d like to admit. I was hurting, broken, bitter, and resentful. During this time, I began to see some of your Facebook posts, since we’ve been connected on here for quite some time. Initially, your posts and articles upset me, as I was very defensive and guarded about my abortion and attempted to justify it to others and myself. But in my heart, the points you made hit a nerve and resonated with me deeply and I knew that you were right. Your posts made me think and question what I really believed. It may sound strange, but that made all the difference for me, and was a key factor in my decision to come back to church and give Christianity another shot. It’s been a long road and I am still dealing with the repercussions of that choice, but today my walk with Jesus is stronger and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I am involved in a great church, and have had many opportunities to share my story with others. Thank you for being so vocal and standing up for what you believe. Thank you for being so passionately pro-life. Thank you for the work that you do. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate it.
I hope everyone who just read that kind note would now acknowledge two things:
First, the claim that no one ever changed his mind because of a Facebook post is more than just empirically false. It is a psychological mechanism that people use to assuage their guilt for failing to stand up for the truth.
Second, the claim that causing people offense by simply speaking the truth is “counterproductive” and makes them “move away from the position you are actually advocating” is both reckless and untrue. Sometimes causing offense or discomfort is the beginning of a deep spiritual awakening.
There is a huge space between condemning people, which is wrong, and making people comfortable with our silence, which is also wrong. Within that huge space we need to speak the truth boldly. Otherwise, the enemy will continue to gain ground and create an illusion of consensus that his lies are actually true.
These are tough times and many people are wondering when the Second Coming will occur. We don’t know exactly when that will happen. All we know is that it won’t be until after the Gospel is spread to all four corners of the Earth.
So what was that you were saying about the futility of speaking the truth?