By: Jesse Muehler
Your heart beats faster, and the lump in your throat slowly solidifies as you raise your shaky hand in the air. Your teacher is talking about how “logical” it is to euthanize the elderly because of their inability to contribute to society, and you know that you need to say something. You know that they’re wrong and that you need to speak up for the sanctity of life, but you’re terrified. What if you’re the only one in the class who understands the value of life? What if your teacher penalizes your grade for disagreeing with her? What if she proves you wrong?
In 2023, we are living in a world that feels increasingly divided, and oftentimes, classrooms in schools find themselves at the center of the most heated debates. What teachers teach, students study, and schools promote are all at the heart of some very intense and important conversations. So how can you, as a Christian who understands the value of life, be sure that you remain a strong, Gospel-motivated voice for life, even in the face of strong opposition? Well, whether you are a teacher or student in the midst of these classroom battles, there are a couple of key points to keep in mind.
- If you’re truly speaking from a Scriptural perspective, you can’t be proven wrong. God’s Word is inerrant and serves as a perfect source of truth for the world which God has created. When it comes to the question of life, God uses his Word to very clearly reveal His intentions for life. Life is a precious gift from God, and life is so important to Him that He gave His only Son to suffer and die so that we might inherit eternal life. It doesn’t get much clearer than that, and you can rest assured that you speak from the side of truth.
- Keep a Gospel-motivated perspective to protect your relationships with others. Life issues are a big deal, and they have become some of the most heated debates of the modern era. People on both sides of the argument feel passionately about their beliefs, and countless relationships have been destroyed by these discussions. Avoid damaging relationships with the people you love by maintaining a Gospel-motivated perspective that focuses on love, compassion, and care for all people. Make it clear that you don’t want anyone to suffer, but you definitely don’t want anyone to die. Rely on that love-based, Gospel-motivated approach to protect your relationships through these tough conversations. After all, you definitely won’t be able to show anyone the value of life or the joy of the Gospel if they refuse to talk to you. Focus on the love and compassion that you feel for all people, and avoid speaking negatively about those who disagree with you.
- Start with the common ground. Even people who vehemently disagree with you on issues such as abortion or euthanasia will agree with you on some issues. Find those issues and start there. It’s likely that even the most avid “pro-choice” supporters see the inherent evil in life issues such as slavery, human trafficking, and the like. Find the areas where the dehumanization of other people is blatantly obvious and start there. Look for moments in history or literature where people are treated as less than human, and point out how basing the value of life on appearance, contributions to society, or suffering is wrong. Once you have that common ground and understanding of the dangers of dehumanization, you’re ready to have the tougher conversations about how the elderly person on life support and the baby in the womb are just as human (and just as valuable) as you and me.
- Ask genuine questions. Although the right questions can reveal the logical fallacies of arguments that don’t support life, it’s best to genuinely ask these questions. Don’t treat them as “gotcha” moments, but as an opportunity to see where this other person is coming from. Asking real, genuine questions can help the other person to also consider your viewpoint. Consider asking questions such as “Does a person’s contributions to society determine their worth?” or “Does a person’s circumstances define their value?” to get others thinking about the truly unchangeable value of human life. Here are some other questions worth asking, depending on the conversation:
- Does a temporary circumstance deserve a permanent “solution”?
- Does size or ability determine a person’s worth?
- Do others have to want someone for that person to be valuable?
Although it can be hard to speak up for life, whether you’re the teacher in front of the classroom or the student behind a desk, it’s some of the most important For Life work that you can do. Classrooms are designed to be a place for learning, and educating others about God’s gift of life is some of the most important learning that can take place. What’s more important? Remembering that, at the end of the day, the God who gave you life also gave His Son so that you can have new life, an eternal life, free of suffering and spent with Him. That gift is for you and for everyone you meet, so go! Spread the good news about LIFE!