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I stumbled across the home of the Teen Wire Drama Club but sheer providence. The Teen Wire Drama Clubs are sponsored by Planned Parenthood to put on skits and shows about the joys of abortion, the glories of protected pre-marital sex and to promote all the good that Planned Parenthood does in the world.
I felt like I found buried treasure. I had been a Christian for a little over a year and became very active in my local pro-life movement. I became Republican when I was eight but I had only become pro-life when I was 15. I went to school and in the government class, and two female teachers had given us the abortion argument with both barrels. Their main line of argument was that it was a woman’s body and a woman need to control her own body and it was not the government’s business to tell a woman what to do with it. Their argument was a libertarian argument: that government was bad, and I thought the government was bad. I was sure I needed to be pro-choice. My pro-choice phase lasted about five hours. Once both my parents were home they began talking about the news and I volunteered that I was pro-choice now. My Dad put down his paper in shock. My mother’s jaw dropped and she asked me in a pained, anxious voice, “Brian come here for a little while we need to talk with you.”
About an hour later I was in moral shock that I had ever considered being pro-choice and I was crazy with anger that my teachers tricked me. At school the next day they nearly had to remove me from class I was so angry. I was pro-life but I did very little with it or about it, besides voting Republican, until I was 26 and a brand new Christian. I was full of zeal, excitement and power and I had a cause no; a Crusade to wage! I was meant to stop abortion.
I joined my local pro-life group, populated by a bunch of retired Catholics, an amazing Nun who though sick and mostly crippled, just rippled with the power of the Holy Spirit and a righteous fire for the unborn. The only other Protestant in the group was a very overworked Presbyterian Pastor, a very good man. When I joined them, a fiery, radical Protestant anxious to take the fight against abortion, they were all enthusiastic. After getting my feet wet in the group I began making plans and like I said I had discovered the meeting place of the Teen Wired Drama Club. I began calling friends and members of my church’s local Youth group and made a plan. One day when the drama club gathered we would show up with our placards and our signs and protest them and let them know there would be no more lies.
I knew the area around the club very well and I knew exactly where we should wait. Many of my crew were late in coming to the protest and so we waited until the Drama club had finished practice, and we would be ready when they came out. The club came out chatting away, totally unaware what was waiting for them. Five young women, two young men and an old hippie looking fellow soon exited and faced our group. Our posters went up picturing destroyed babies, ripped from the wombs, our pro-life signs were there as well and our chant, “NO MORE LIES!” Bellowed from our throats. There were eight of them and about 20 of us and we obviously scared them. We were perfectly legal, the older Catholics were veteran protestors and had schooled me in how to do a legal protest. The Old Hippie cursed us like a veteran sailor on an angry bender. Several of the girls in the club cried and the two boys admirably moved toward us but I stood directly in front of them and they were just unsure what to do. They all eventually got into their cars and drove away with our shouts ringing in their ears.
Man, I was pumped! It was thrilling to confront the enemy and show them that advocating for the killing of children came with a price. In my new convert zeal, it was crystal clear to me that the only reason anyone supported abortion was the fact that too many of us were too afraid to confront them with the evil of abortion. Once confronted surely they all would quickly repent and change their minds about killing babies. We made this Drama club move their meeting place the very next day, a center of our protest movement was getting their productions canceled and attacking their funding. I was one happy man when I saw on the Teen Wired website the Club in my county was no longer active.
Stepping back, I can see now what I did. I organized a mob and we intimated and terrified some young people that held wrong opinions. I thought of myself as brave at the time and there is some truth to that I suppose, I was taking risks, but to be so proud of scaring a group of mostly young women, with 20 people behind me? I would soon learn that no matter how much zeal you have, someone else has more, and that zeal will carry them to a very dark place.
It was during a new protest I was organizing with students that would take place in the area schools that I met him. I was using a network of youth groups to recruit high school pro-lifers to have a Day of Silence in their schools. Since thirty million members of their generation would never have a voice, they would go for a day without talking. We had t-shirts, special training, and everything. I put more than a few youth pastors in a tough spot: I had gained a reputation around the community already for being a zealot and the youth pastors were concerned about hurting their relationships with the schools they ministered in; they did not want me to address their youth groups directly. They were also afraid of getting tagged as soft on abortion, so they compromised and gave me a real gift: they would allow me to talk to students after youth group. So here I was a Christian too edgy for youth group but fighting for a worthy cause, the young people came to me in droves.
We Need to Kill the Doctors
Two young men approached me: Kevin (not his real name) was 21 and Yates (need I say…) was 19 years old. They were friends and had come to a few pro-life meetings, but we had not spoken before. They talked to the Nun that led us and the Pastor in the group as well, and now they came to me. Kevin was convinced that we needed to take more extreme actions and he needed my help. He argued the older Catholics and the Nun were old and afraid now, or so Kevin thought. The Pastor was weak. But me? Wel,l Kevin thought I was a fighter. My position to not compromise, no backing down after my recent activity Kevin was sure I was up for doing something really big. What was his plan? His plan was straight forward: let’s kill the abortion doctors until all doctors everywhere are afraid to perform abortions. No need to change the law or protest or convince; and it wasn’t even murder in his mind, we were just defending the lives of innocent children.
Kevin wasn’t kidding: he had prepared, he knew the doctors that served the local clinic and had firearms. He and Yates would practice shooting quite a bit, and even used pictures of the doctors in question. Yates was just along for the ride and he was hoping to see Kevin do something crazy, but didn’t have the guts to do anything himself.
Not knowing what else to do, I told Kevin to sit down with me and the Bible and walk through the issue together, and determine through the Scriptures if killing the abortion doctors was the right thing to do. If we found it was, I would help him, but if the Scriptures told us that it was not right to kill the doctors, he had to drop his plan. For the first time since I met him, Kevin looked relieved and agreed to my proposal. He said he was a Christian and had no church at the time but had come from a fairly fundamentalist Baptist church background.
I have rarely known fear as I knew it then. I was a new Christian and not mature in my faith at all. I did not know the origins of my own theology and had not yet read the Bible from cover to cover, But I was about to embark on Bible Study and effort at moral reasoning where lives likely hanged in the balance. I ran to find advice and the sweet, sweet Catholics helped me and gave me advice about how protesting in love and persuasion was better than violence and offered to show me writing of some very smart Priests about why we must protest abortion with love and not violence. This gave me a thread to pursue but neither Kevin nor I were Catholic and popery, and so, even lovely and wise popery could not help me. The Pastor helped me the most but I don’t think he understood the burning zeal that Kevin or I felt for stopping abortion. He seemed to start out with the idea that Kevin’s plan was obviously wrong, and so we did not have to take it too seriously.
That was not going to cut it for me. I wasn’t even sure that Kevin was wrong maybe I was being the coward and refusing to see that only extreme actions could save children from death? Maybe I was just too afraid to do what it took to save lives and I was looking for a reason to justify my cowardice? The Pastor gave me a very important key: “Ask Kevin this why does he want to kill the doctors, for vengeance, for justice or to save the lives of the innocent babies?” If I didn’t know the answer to that question my study with him would go nowhere. Everyone agreed if I could not convince Kevin to change his plans I needed to alert the police. But I wasn’t yet sure Kevin was wrong; did I need to turn myself in too?
I could write about his debate for pages and pages but I won’t bore you with the details. Here is what it boiled down to: I used the key the Pastor gave me. I said we have to determine why it would be right to kill to save the unborn: Vengeance, justice or to save the lives of the unborn? We determined we were not authorized to bring justice to the abortionists; so that was out. Vengeance was something the Lord had reserved for himself, and so that was unavailable to us. Saving innocent babies that looked very promising; to save an innocent human being seemed like a good reason to kill.
Kevin agreed we could only kill if it would save the life of a child. Then we looked at all the complicating factors, like the fact that the babies were trapped inside of women that wanted to kill them. I made some utilitarian arguments about how killing a couple of abortion doctors would not stop abortion, nor would necessarily save any babies since the mothers could get abortions elsewhere. Kevin rightly rejected those arguments as insufficient: we had not tried his plan so we didn’t know if it would not work or not. It did no good guessing. I turned again to Bible and pointed out that killing could avenge previously aborted babies, killing could be a form of justice, but the Bible explicitly said that Kevin and I had no right in this case to be the avenger or the arbiter of justice. I then proposed that our real problem was the brokenness in a woman’s heart that could move her to kill her own child.
The Bible has a lot to say on Changing Hearts
Once I got to the problem of the hearts of women who wanted to kill their own babies, I was on much firmer ground. The Bible has a lot of information on how to change hearts and minds and none of it involves gunplay. I had been staying up late at night reading everything I could find on the subject of violence, protest, and just war. My work suffered, and my long-suffering boss actually heard this excuse, “I am so sorry I was just absorbed by this article on Augustine and Just War Theory and didn’t realize what time it was…” I had not read the entire Bible from cover to cover before meeting Kevin but during this time I read the New Testament books four times and read nearly the whole Old Testament once. I was losing sleep, but Kevin had always seemed kind of cool about the debate. He confessed later he was sure he was convincing me to take up violence and I was just afraid to admit it.
As the debate turned to the broken hearts of women, Kevin was very agitated and even angry about our talks. He hated the example of Jesus and how he sought to change the minds of those that hated him. I think we actually talked about Peter defending Jesus during his arrest for close to eight hours on one Saturday. Kevin walked out on me twice and then finally one night he called me over and we prayed together, he repented and by his own admission was Born Again. No longer would he look for violent solutions, he would instead follow Christ.
How We Shape the Political Will in the Real World
In the real world this is how the political will is shaped. Real people meeting one-on-one or in small groups and working out what they are going to do and how they are going to act on vitally important issues. No matter what side of the political aisle you’re on there are people around contemplating violence and other extreme actions. People do it all the time.
We all sometimes allow ourselves to mock the people who write ideas and put out books. As Napoleon asked in slightly different ways about the Classical liberals and the Pope “What armies do they have?” What armies indeed?
Still, while it seems useless to sit down and write very deep articles about Just War Theory I can say thank you for all the serious thinkers who bothered to write them because without them a young man may have destroyed his life and others along with it. The ideas that are out there and opinions that are expressed are fuel that fan the flames of belief in people. You want to know why the pro-life movement did not become violent or a real domestic terrorist threat? It was because people cared to write about why we should not be violent, theologians, philosophers and thinkers hammered it out in Human Events, newsletters, National Review, websites and articles and books of all kinds. It was because people translated Saint Augustine and Francis of Assisi and John Calvin. I won the debate with Kevin because I cared not only for the end we sought but about the means of achieving our end.
If you want to shape the political will for the better read about ideas, take the good ones, know your theology and think deeply about your beliefs; and when the time comes and lives hang in the balance you too can make your argument and save people from terrible, terrible tragedy.
Whether we care about it or not, the political will of our nation is being shaped all around us. We can either be the ones that shape it or leave the shaping to others; but whatever our choice, we and our children will live with the consequences.