In recent weeks, a great deal of time has been given to the topic of abortion—mainly partial birth abortion. We have seen the statistics, the political points, the fodder, and the hateful rhetoric. Many were waiting for this moment in time. They were waiting and anxious to take to their political hills and argue their “well” thought out points. We heard why abortion is right and why abortion is wrong. We have seen clearly where people stand.

Unfortunately, what tends to get lost in these disputes are the men, women, boys, and girls that are directly affected by these issues. It is easy for us to run to our political or personal corners and prepare for battle. In this preparation, we look for an anecdote that may help us “win” the argument of the day. In doing this, we are turning image bearers into simple props – props that we can use and manipulate for our gain.

Don’t read this and assume I am saying we should stay away from HOPE stories or stories that highlight life and the celebration of it. I, of course, think these stories are very important. Their importance though is not based on a gain or winning an argument. Instead, their importance is based on the truth of life. We share these stories because they point us to something greater than ourselves. They point us to the life Creator.

This truth must never be lost in our discourse and debate. We all lose when we see people as props and not God-created human beings. This is hard for parties on both sides of the issue. We live in such a polarizing time that the value of “winning” far outweighs the value of life.

This criticism can be pointed at all involved. I wrestle with this in my own life every single day. There are times where my desire to debate is not rooted in promoting a life celebrating agenda, but instead, oftentimes, I find my desire rooted in beating our “opponents.” This is a very dangerous place to find myself.

When our roots are planted in simply winning or losing on a particular topic, we fail to recognize that every life, even those that adamantly disagree with us, has value and was made with a purpose.

My pro-life stance isn’t just directed at those that fall on my side of the life issue. It MUST also be directed toward those that seek to silence the pro-life narrative and our clinics. This may seem counterproductive, but if we fail to value the lives of those that disagree with us, then we fail to value life altogether.

We don’t check the party affiliation or the stance of our patients at HOPE on life. We don’t ask them who they are voting for or their thoughts on the polarizing issue of the day. Instead, we see them as they are, an image bearer deserving of our love. This mindset allows us to prevent the cloudiness of judgement to creep into our mission of serving and providing for the most vulnerable.

I do not write this today to encourage disengagement from our societal, cultural, or political issues of the day. I write this to motivate us, myself included, to engage differently with our neighbor. We must have conversations on life and abortion. We never neglect our role in society. However, our role cannot be to simply win a debate or discussion.

Our words and actions will look far different when we start seeing individuals as God creations and not props that can be used to bring us a superficial victory. I pray this would be our truth as we press forward in these very uncertain times.

posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center