You've probably heard of the phrase, “fight or flight,” or “fight, flight, or freeze.” This is usually related to our body’s response to physical danger.
But what about when we are pressed with a question or attack about our pro-life views? Have you ever felt the “fight, flight, or freeze” come up then?
Maybe you weren’t sure which one to choose or what was the right response in that moment. But maybe, we actually need to do all three. Why?
Because we need to know how to defend our position and argue well (in a firm but loving manner), know when to disengage and flee from a conversation, and when to stop and pause before responding.
Depending on the person (or people) you’re speaking with and the setting you’re in, you have to decide how you are going to talk about this often very difficult subject, especially with people who support abortion.
If you’re like me, you’re a very passionate pro-life advocate, and you think abortion is never a good option. It doesn’t matter what the situation is; you know there’s always a better way. So, you’ve probably encountered people who think you’re crazy, extreme, ridiculous, or even, “uncaring,” or, “unloving,” for your well-intentioned heart and desire to always support and choose life.
And sometimes you might even be tempted to lash out in frustration or disappointment because you don’t understand how someone could support the slaughter of beautiful unborn babies and call that compassionate.
Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in your approach before. If you have, you’re definitely not the only one. I’ve made plenty of mistakes with how I’ve talked about this subject with those who don’t agree with me.
Sometimes it’s hard not to get overly excited or bold when we are passionate about life. And it certainly doesn’t help us feel better when our good intentions somehow rub people the wrong way or don’t seem to change their minds.
You’re not alone. And remember, there are many, many people in the same boat and who share your views and your heart too.
So, let’s look at the fight-flight-freeze phenomenon when it comes to hard conversations about abortion with those who support it.
I’ll start with freeze because this might be your most natural response, especially if you aren’t too well-versed in what to say and get tongue-tied when hard-pressed about your views. Or you’re frozen because you’ve been down this path before with this person you’re talking to, and you know it usually doesn’t end well.
Freezing isn’t as bad as you might think. This is because it allows you to have a moment to think about what you want to say.
And even though you may not know what to say right away, it is much better to take some time to listen to the other person, ask them questions to clarify where they’re coming from, and gather your thoughts for what to say in return instead of responding with the first thought or word that comes to mind (because let’s be real, the first thing we think of might not always be a very good thing to say!).
This leads to the fight portion. When it comes to abortion conversations, I’ve learned that fighting only works well if it’s done well.
What do I mean by that? For starters, arguing, name-calling, judging, or being at each other’s throats is not fighting well.
Fighting well involves the same things you might have done while you were freezing, except now you are being intentional about respectfully challenging this specific person’s beliefs about abortion.
You need to know the subject and your discussion partner before you can respond appropriately, present the truth about abortion, invite this person to make a change in their perspectives and/or join you in your cause.
You might not always get the opportunity to do all of these things in your conversation, and that’s okay. Fighting well simply involves listening, asking questions, and communicating your views in a nonjudgmental manner with a person who does not agree with you.
Something my wise pro-life cousin once told me is the important thing that works best is engaging with love and facts. And that ultimately, you should not focus on winning a fight.
Fighting in abortion conversations involves so much more than beating someone else’s perspective or being right.
It’s fighting for the cause of both women and their unborn children. And we cannot fight to the point where we hurt our relationships with those we are speaking with. We have done little to nothing to promote our cause if we have disrespected a person for their differing views while trying to advance our own agenda.
Ultimately, this fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
In other words, this is a spiritual battle. And it’s a spiritual battle that belongs to the Lord.
So, this is where flight comes in. We need to know when to pause or end these tough conversations if they don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Maybe you’ve tried your best to stay respectful and nonjudgmental, but it’s still getting heated. Maybe you’re starting to get exhausted, and this person shows no signs of letting up, or it feels like it’s inadvertently turned into an argument.
This is when it’s best to politely suggest taking a break from the conversation and potentially revisiting it another time. Let the person know you understand where he or she is coming from, and while you don’t agree with his or her views, you still respect him or her as a person and don’t want to argue. This may be challenging, but it is important.
Let’s say, by the grace of God, this person ends up changing his or her mind about abortion because of the conversation. That’s a wonderful thing. This would be your opportunity to graciously invite them to join you in the fight for life. We know there are so many practical ways to help women who are facing unplanned pregnancies.
But remember, disengaging from these conversations before successfully convincing someone to abandon a pro-abortion viewpoint is okay. We don’t have to “convert” people in one sitting. Sometimes it’s a journey, a process that involves a lot of prayer and patience.
Finally, we need to remember that we do not change people’s hearts. That’s God’s job. Our job is to represent Him well by choosing our responses well. We plant the seeds. And we let God water them.
So don’t be afraid the next time an abortion conversation comes up and you feel the fight, flight, or freeze phenomenon. This is your guide to a good conversation.
Preserve the relationship, no matter how hard it may be. Pray for this person’s heart to be transformed by the conversation and by God’s Holy Spirit. And patiently persevere in your pro-life cause no matter how much resistance or misunderstanding you might face.
Tweet This: Preserve the relationship, pray for this person’s heart to be transformed, and persevere in your pro-life cause.
God gave you the heart that you have for a reason. Let that heart stir you to continue to love and do good deeds for Him and those who are facing unplanned pregnancies and contemplating abortion (Hebrews 10:24). Let your light shine so that others may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
And finally, let this be your encouragement in all your conversations and interactions with those who think differently from you: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).