By Bud Shaver- Prayer and a Pro-Life Witness
Within the Pro-Life community…“To use or not use graphic images, that is the question.” My desire in contributing to this dialogue is not to cause division; while I personally use graphic images every day as I sidewalk counsel and stand for life out at late-term abortion clinic Southwestern Women’s Option in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I would never tell someone that disagreed with me that they had to use graphic images. I believe we should extend grace to those who choose not to. However, my experience is that those who do not use graphic images are not as gracious; in fact, they can be some of my harshest critics! The main reason that I use graphic images is because they restore meaning to the word abortion; they change minds and they save lives.
My wife Tara Shaver and I work with Project Defending Life (PDL) a Pro-Life ministry center in Albuquerque, NM, that has a vast amount of resources for abortion-minded women. I have a rare opportunity to be both out on the street referring women at the abortion clinic to PDL and inside PDL as my wife Tara counsels the women that we reach. My wife makes the point to ask the women what was it that changed their mind. Time and time again the graphic images are what penetrated their heart and most contributed in saving their babies from abortion.
This question is usually raised when large numbers of pro-lifers plan a major event. Most recently there was an article that surfaced around the March for Life, 2013, in D.C. titled: “Eight Reasons Not to Use Graphic Abortion Images at the March for Life,” by Simcha Fisher.
Our convictions must not be shaped by the world, our own emotions, or by our own understanding. They must be shaped by the Word of God. The most brutal and graphic sign the world has ever beheld is Jesus’ broken and bloody body hanging on a cross at Calvary. So, I am going to examine each of these eight reasons levied against the use of graphic images and examine them as if they were levied against God Himself and his choice to hold the most graphic sign of all.
1. There will be children at the march. I am sure there were children that witnessed Jesus being led through the streets of Jerusalem and at the foot of Calvary. Whether or not children would be present at the crucifixion did not deter God from choosing this graphic display to convict the world of sin, judgment ,and righteousness!
2. There will be post-abortive women at the march. There were murders, thieves, and sinners at the foot of Calvary. In fact, these are the very ones that need this sign (Christ being lifted up…to be drawn to Jesus; John 12:32.) We are all sinners and need to be continually reminded of what of our sin produced…the death of Jesus!
3. Mothers will be there. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at Calvary. Enough said!
4. Those are real babies. Calvary was real too! In fact, we need the truth about what Jesus experienced on the cross to become more real to us each and every day as we are tempted to sin!
5. Public image matters. Did public image matter to God? Jesus Christ was brutally murdered at the hands of sinful men and displayed for all to see. In fact, Jesus was ridiculed and mocked on the cross. His own disciples and the apostles scattered and were in confusion after the crucifixion. However, Jesus personally rebuked Peter when Peter told him not to use Himself as a graphic image! (Matthew 16:21-23)
6. They sometimes push women into abortion. (Personally this is the most ridiculous!) Does Calvary push people to sin more? I don’t think so! Calvary and its brutality is what penetrates the most hardened hearts! God knows best what convicts of sin, judgment, and righteousness…the brutality of the cross is it!
7. Desensitization is a real danger -- even among pro-lifers. No matter how many times we see a cross and realize the implications of what Jesus endured we will never become desensitized to Calvary! In fact, God chose to leave us His Word to read daily and meditate upon moment by moment the implications of the cross! We should come to the foot of Calvary more often! Let it ever be before us!
8. People see what they want to see. When it comes to Jesus, people see what they want to see; however, may we never shirk back and fail to lead people to the foot of Calvary!
The greatest accusation (not mentioned above) that can be levied against those of us who choose to use graphic images is that we are insensitive or unloving. People do not usually come out and make that accusation it mostly comes out in statements like, “We are not going to use graphic images; we are going to use more loving signs.”
The most loving sign the world has ever seen was held by God Himself. That sign was His Son, Jesus the Christ, bloody and marred beyond recognition. This sign forever declared to the world our sin and draws those who are convicted out of darkness and into the light. (John 12:32) May our concept of love never be fashioned by the world or our own understanding. Our concept of love must be fashioned in light of the cross.
There are some great resources that defend in depth the use of graphic images. I personally recommend these:
To find out more about Bud and Tara Shaver's ministry go to Prayer and a Pro-Life Witness.