This Sunday, January 22, is Sanctity of Life Sunday and St. Luke has invited Rachel Crawford, a Christian missionary, to speak during our discipleship education hour. Rachel enjoys connecting with people who have a variety of perspectives on sanctity of life issues. Through real life stories, Rachel will make a logical and charitable case for the sanctity of life. She will help us see how we can affirm that all life matters to God through compassionate conversations, even when people might disagree. Join us in the West Wing from 9:45-10:45 a.m. for this special presentation open to youth, parents, and other adults at St. Luke. I spoke with Rachel this week to get some background on her work and passion for life issues.
LW: When/Why did you first become passionate about life issues?
RC: I have always been pro-life, but I never really understood why people didn’t think the same way I did about life issues. I had a lot of thoughts and feelings tied to my position on subjects like abortion and euthanasia, but no outlets to be involved with the public discourse relating to them. It wasn’t until I got to college and joined Students for Life that I finally had the opportunity to engage with people openly and with that experience I found the necessity to understand why people disagreed with me. The more I understood why they believed what they did the better my activism became and my passion grew. Ultimately, people are passionate about these issues because they affect our lives in such an intimate way.
LW: How do you see the equal rights movement changing with this generation?
RC: The pro-life movement in the United States is changing to adapt to the way people now think about life issues in response to a generation raised in a culture with legalized abortion and sonogram technology. Young people have a different approach to life issues than the generation before us and the activism of the young pro-life movement reflects that shift in perspective. Some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on my college campus have been the fear of absolute morality, apathetic approaches to controversial issues, and the complexity of bodily autonomy.
LW: What are some ways young people can be equal rights advocates in their schools and communities?
RC: The best way young people can be advocates for the equality of people is to ask questions and engage in conversations with their friends and peers. I have become strongly convinced that the best way to change a person’s mind is to form a relationship with them and discuss the issue. Face to face conversations are the building blocks of any successful social movement. If young people can learn to dialogue well with peers about tough issues than truth will be discovered and knowledge will thrive. I encourage young people to educate themselves thoroughly by searching for the best arguments of both sides of any issue they feel passionately about. Often we only want to find evidence to support what our position already is, but we should find smart people who disagree with us and hear what they have to say. If they make a better argument than our side does, this means we should switch sides!
LW: A common critique of the pro life movement is that it focuses too much on saving the life of a child and not enough on supporting life after birth. What are some ways you advocate for the support of women choosing life?
RC: Pro-life people care about the dignity of every person, not just those who haven’t been born yet! I can sympathize with some people who don’t come to this conclusion when they look at the pro-life movement. I think we as pro-life people can do a better job at showing our love for all people by embracing those who face unintended pregnancies throughout and after their parenting decision. I’ve seen people give emotional, financial and spiritual support to women who have chosen to place their child for adoption, parent or have chosen abortion in the past and are now seeking support. The first way we can make this genuine willingness to care for their needs known is in our messaging. We want to embrace a woman in that difficult situation and tell her that we are here for you, we care about you, and we are going to walk with you. The reason we are there for her isn’t even because we don’t want her to have an abortion, it is because she is a person that is in our life who needs help. We love her and want to help her because she is a person and that is a good enough reason. Looking at where this desire to help comes from is at the root of our pro-life understanding and carries us through every stage of a person’s life when they are in need.
LW: Our culture is full of conflicting messages regarding worth and success. What sort of resources or encouragement do you have for parents who are trying to impart the innate value of every human life to their kids?
RC: In my life, my understanding of the dignity of every human person has been reinforced by my Christian faith and by my experiences. Parents can give their children opportunities to serve others who are in a state of life which the world regards as not having much productivity, success or pleasure attached to it but we can see that their lives have meaning and a purpose. My time serving the disabled, sick and elderly has given me an understanding that I would not have learned any other way. In turn, I learned to appreciate my own gifts and privileges in a profound way.