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The subject of abortion rarely comes up without stirring up passionate arguments and conflicted emotions. On one side, pro-choice groups argue the right of women to manage their own bodies. In stark contrast, pro-lifers condemn abortion as murder, especially those pro-lifers affiliated with a religion. Pro-life religious individuals believe that God commands people not to kill.
This means, in their eyes, that abortion is a grave sin. While such a strong abhorrence for sin is understandable, there is a problem: pro-lifers may gravitate towards the worst cases of abortion as backup evidence for their stance. By presenting dramatic flaws of abortion, pro-lifers increase contention instead of diminishing it. Some may not even realize what they are doing. In this time of ethical turmoil, an evangelical magazine steps forward to bring the focus back to an important concept.
Christianity Today’s editorial, “An Everyday Scandal”, utilizes strong diction, evidence, imagery, and identification with religious beliefs to show evangelical pro-life Christians why treating others with love and respect is more important to the fight for life than it is to rely on shocking reports of abortion gone wrong.
The first paragraph of the editorial introduces abortion in a negative light through strong diction. Phrases including, “forever lurking beneath the currents of American life”, “sometimes roars to the surface”, and “slumbering giant” press on the reader with an eerie sense of foreboding (168). These words form an analogy comparing abortion to a monster as it waits, just out of sight, until it can rear its ugly head and cause mayhem. Abortion, like many modern issues, tends to fluctuate through the headlines on the news for short periods of time before laying itself to rest – for the time being, that is.
An explosive headline is all it takes for abortion to take the center stage of conflict once again. Like a creature of disaster, it calmly awaits its next opportunity to provoke fiery debates about human rights. The editorial includes this choice of words to show how truly destructive negativity is to the fight against abortion. Both pro-life and pro-choice sides grow more bitter and defensive with each extreme case, resulting in more reluctance to compromise. Christianity Today aims to convey abortion’s monstrous qualities from the very beginning of the editorial in a way that foreshadows the harm in sacrificing respect and love for aggression.
Strong diction also comes into play at the end of the editorial. The final paragraph settles for no less than a blunt reminder of the sinful aspects of abortion. It then describes an abortionist’s tools as ranging from “immaculate or contaminated [to] wielded with surgical delicacy or barbaric cruelty” (170). Christianity Today shows both ends of the spectrum of abortion through this use of fiery language.
The community of evangelical Christians reading this editorial is most likely aware that abortion can range from being a top-notch procedure to a gory and possibly fatal sequence of events. Contrasting the tools of abortionists around the world serves to persuade evangelicals that, regardless of the care taken to abort properly (or the lack thereof), abortion still destroys God’s creations and should not, therefore, be tolerated. Furthermore, the comparison reminds readers that there are two sides to abortion, but evangelicals ought not to focus just on the worst of them.
Towards the middle of the editorial, the writers engage in the use of evidence to show Christianity Today’s readers the kinds of facts pro-lifers may use to attack abortion. The first example discusses the sinister business of Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist from Philadelphia, whose “clinic reeked of cat urine […] was staffed by unlicensed apprentices, spattered with bloodstains, and cluttered with unsterilized instruments and a stockpile of fetal body parts” (168).
The writers of the editorial provide their readers with this morbid piece of evidence to state that abortionists like Kermit Gosnell are a very real part of abortion’s barbaric characteristics. The description of bloodstains, fetal body parts, and the stench of cat urine repulses the senses in a way that the writers want the readers to remember. This incorporation of disturbing facts gives evangelicals an example of the revolting scenarios they should avoid as the foundation of their argument against abortion.
The editorial provides further evidence when it talks about a pro-life organization called Live Action. Live Action seeks to undermine abortion by secretly filming abortion clinic workers, thus exposing several inappropriate behaviors. In the videos, one can see a Live Action associate posing as the owner of an “underage prostitution ring” – a twisted business that makes ample use of abortions and treatments for health problems and needs that come with prostitution (169). This real-life example of abortion being used for the wrong purposes is included by Christianity Today to feed the disgust already aroused in its readers. This resentment is proof of the extreme negativity that it adds to the debate on abortion. The writers want their audience to feel that for themselves as they read. Evidence of the exploration of abortion’s dark side tells evangelicals that inflicting wounds on the pro-choice side of abortion will make the pro-life side seem unethical and deceitful.
Christianity Today then identifies with its readers by making religious statements about how Christians view abortion in accordance with their beliefs. Because the world supports the right to have an abortion so passionately, people, like Christians, who oppose those pro-choice views often come under heavy criticism. In these moments of frustration, the editorial explains, “we need to continue to contemplate […] the more central theme of love: how our words and deeds reflect love of neighbor, born and unborn” (169). It is part of Christian belief to turn the other cheek, even though a situation may be most unbearable. The editorial thus creates a common thread with its audience of advocates for protecting innocent life. It recognizes a shared feeling of helplessness with the audience while persuading evangelicals to follow their religion by spreading love among all people, no matter what their stance on abortion is. The editorial shows evangelicals that they are not alone.
The editorial further identifies with Christians against abortion by discussing a fundamental belief of Christianity. After talking about how it is impossible to stop abortion once and for all, the editorial says that “none repents of wickedness without a prick to the conscience” (169). This Christian belief supports the audience’s motives for battling the sin of abortion. The “prick to the conscience” is any example of abortion destroying people’s lives.
The previously mentioned cases of Kermit Gosnell’s clinic and Live Action’s investigation of underage prostitution are strong examples used by Christianity Today to remind their evangelical readers that, while guilt can influence people, it cannot be forced on them. It is in the nature of most humans to cringe at the suffering of another human being. At the same time, people who support abortion can turn a blind eye or excuse a scandal like Gosnell’s horrific clinic as an extreme and unfortunate case. The writers of the editorial advise their readers to let abortion supporters comprehend the immorality of their stance on their own. Repentance can never be forced on a person, no matter how desperate the cause, so evangelicals are encouraged to love people for who they are and for what they believe.
Christianity Today combines several strategic approaches to make “An Everyday Scandal” effective. Although pro-lifers view abortion as a disgusting elimination of life, the editorial persuades its evangelical readers to take a step back and realize how detrimental “bombshells” are to the defense of the unborn. The goal of pro-lifers, the editorial debates, should be to communicate the importance of a greater appreciation for others. Increasing the intensity of verbal attacks on the pro-choice side also increases the likelihood of bitterness. This obstructs the possibility of compromise on the issue.
Because the writers of “An Everyday Scandal” can relate to their evangelical audience, they ameliorate the hard feelings in abortion debates that their readers may feel. According to their beliefs, godly love brings about more improvement than any conflict. The editorial contributes the relief of peace to the pro-life cause so that readers will feel inspired to soften their hearts. At the same time, evangelicals are persuaded to stand strong in their stance against abortion because of the threat it poses to the lives their God created. Modern medicine and new movements in American rights may make abortion worth the fight to those who support it, but the editorial effectively reminds evangelicals to draw strength in their struggles against abortion from God’s example of love for everyone.
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