How to Love Your Pro-Choice Enemies

We were walking along the street, side by side, mid-way through my first week as an office junior at a important firm in the heart of a large cosmopolitan city. That’s when my eighteen year old colleague Caitlyn (not her real name) started asking about my sex life before I was married. I was naturally an object of curiosity for my younger colleagues, having only a few months earlier married. It was impossible for them to understand why I would want to get married so young when I could have prolonged my single years enjoyably, going out drinking, partying, and sleeping around.

In particular, Caitlyn wanted to know if I had slept with my husband before we married, which I answered in the negative, then explained that as I was a Christian, I didn’t believe in sex outside of marriage. Naïvely, I was confused as to why I was subsequently bullied and abused by her every day I worked there. Years on from that time, though my memory has obscured most of the details, I can clearly remember the dread of going to work each day, the accumulating stresses of being bullied and always literally running to keep up with everything that was expected in that harried, too-busy environment. Also, I remember the struggle I had to repay evil with good, to not be bitter towards Caitlyn, to speak charitably, to be loving.

One afternoon we were working on a task together in the office she shared with our boss. For some reason the talk turned to the subject of abortion. Caitlyn often inquired about my views on difficult topics, perhaps curious about what an oddity like me would say, though repulsed by my answers. She was proudly pro-choice and seemed unacquainted with any opposing view. As we talked, it unfolded that I did, with a passion impossible to disguise, believe that abortion is never justifiable, as it always destroys an unutterably precious human life. I remember her face, and the slight hesitation and slowness, the way she looked at the floor, and the way she said that her friend had been raped, had decided to have an abortion, and that she had supported her friend, and taken her to have it done.

She spoke slowly, with none of the careless, shameless ease which was usual to her. The nearness and raw reality of the story cut my heart and I recall saying that this terrible situation was still not grounds for an abortion.

I explained that countless women have written about their painful stories about having become pregnant through rape – some to say that they had an abortion after becoming pregnant by rape, and now – oh if they could only get their baby back, because they would have loved it, and now when it was too late they knew that the baby was theirs not their attacker’s. And the countless women who kept their babies after the rape, and who have written to say that the baby is a blessing and a source of healing to give them fresh heart and hope.

On another occasion, when Caitlyn and I were travelling back together to the office from a work function, we were talking about children, and she said softly that she wanted to be married and have children, because she loved children. But I remember in the quieter late afternoons when she would talk carelessly about having sex with this and that guy, and it’s hard to forget that she was occasionally picked off the street after passing out drunk in the early mornings. Carelessly promiscuous, she still desperately wanted to be loved by someone special. She seemed to know that she was precious, but treated herself as if her sex appeal was what mattered. She was a riddle I couldn’t understand.

I was relieved to finish working there after only 5 months, but it was only when I subsequently started volunteering at a crisis pregnancy clinic as a receptionist that Caitlyn’s tragic story came together in my mind. While organising and updating the client files I thought I saw a familiar name. There was Caitlyn’s name, her file. Information followed: her original phone call and first visit – she was trying to procure an abortion and thought the clinic would help, descriptions of phone calls from clinic staff to open up for her better choices, that wouldn’t end in a broken heart and a dead child. The final call where she made known she was having an abortion – nothing could sway her, she was determined. The abortion date. I realized, in shock, that it was Caitlyn and not her friend who had had an abortion. It was Caitlyn and not her friend who had been raped. The five unhappy months we’d shared, the most difficult perhaps, I’ve ever experienced, made much more sense to me.

Our back-office conversation came to mind and I realized that her behaviour was totally cogent with the worthlessness a victim of rape can feel; that her dislike and abuse of me was understandable given how my life and views contrasted so painfully with her own. Her sexualized dressing, brief hook-ups and excessive drinking made sense to me as behaviour consistent with a strong feeling of being abandoned (she absolutely hated her father for some reason that she couldn’t bring herself to tell me) and a belief that she was valued only for her sex-appeal. Understanding all this more clearly, I wished I had been kinder, more loving, that I had in every instance repaid evil with good, that there had always been love and no anger or bitterness in my heart towards Caitlyn.
I recall this history about my colleague, Caitlyn, because her story is in some respects quite similar to the stories of many who we find it most natural to despise or hate. There are many who seem to naturally delight in living an immoral lifestyle, who support evil, destructive actions. Some of these people we work closely with, as I did with Caitlyn. Some are further distant from us: people we hear of in our own country, who advocate with passionate intensity for extreme abortion laws that would remove all limitations to abortion. My heart broke and I felt as if my head would explode, reading just a few months ago the opinion of a famous and respected abortionist in England who is arguing for sex-selective abortion to be made legal. And none of us are unaware of the people who with a deadly determination push for abortion without limit up to birth and beyond in most of the Western countries. Increasingly, due to the impressive work done by Live Action, the darkest of evil committed by staff of Planned Parenthood in America is being brought to light – the actual destruction of unborn children for the purpose of baby parts trafficking.
It seems so much more natural to hate wicked people, than to pray for them. We all have a constant exposure to other people’s evil opinions and actions thanks to a steady stream of articles and pieces bringing it all into the open. We know we have a duty to be aware of what is happening in the world, so we deliberately open our eyes and hearts to it. It’s hard to see the evil, but it’s much harder to feel any compassion towards people who are bent on destroying other people’s lives. It’s hard to carry on with the rest of the day with a weight of sadness and horror pressing on us, which no amount of good things seems to counterbalance.

We are all reading the same things. Children – children we’d gladly adopt, look after – are being slaughtered, thousands of them, each unborn child individually perfect and beautiful, every day.

We know that each of these children were hand-crafted, knit together with the kind of care and love only displayed by their Father. We understand a fraction of the preciousness of the children we are raising ourselves, and that makes the child killing we know is going on every day even harder to comprehend. What is easiest and most natural for us is to withhold from the perpetrators, advocates and cheerful supporters of abortion, God’s burning love for them.
They have a double claim on us, because they are our neighbours and our enemies. Jesus bluntly commanded us to love the abortionist, the evil person. His reason was simply that we are to be like God, who decides constantly to give rain and sun to people who hate him. I believe another part of his reason is that these evil people are precious to him. He spent time with them before they were born, fashioning them in the womb with his own hands; he has always been with them, striving to make them see his presence, his goodness, his fingerprints everywhere on the natural world. He understands, where we do not, their stories – perhaps a broken family upbringing, every kind of abuse, rejection, betrayal, abortion experiences and the crushing grief and guilt which invariably follows. Jesus calls the evil person evil, and he calls us to love. He’s able, somehow, to command this with such simplicity even though all evil is against him ultimately, and he feels the full force of every evil deed. John, writing to a church shortly after Jesus died, explained further that we are able to love only when we have been born of God, because love comes from God, and he who hates his brother is dead while he lives. Jesus and John’s antidote to evil is love, which is consistent with Jesus’ ultimate display of sacrificial love for his enemies. It is John’s writing that holds the key to our ability to love our pro-choice enemies: we have to deny our desire to be merely angry with evil people, and ask God to make us a causeway so that He can pour his love through us to them.