explain abortion children

How do I explain abortion to my children?

By Michael C. Sherrard

These kinds of questions keep you awake at night. Knowing how and when to talk to your children about sensitive issues isn’t an exact science. But we better figure it out quick. While we contemplate the best way to do it, our little ones are being taught by someone else. The internet, social media, and public education have changed the rules of the game. With that in mind, here are four practical suggestions for parents and church leaders on how to get ahead of the issue and teach your children about abortion.

explain abortion children

1. START EARLY. 

Parents always struggle with “how soon do I allow my children to see the brokenness in the world?” My wife, Terri, and I err on the side of sooner than later. I want the first time my children to be horrified by the brokenness of our world to be in the safety of our company and in the context of the gospel. Besides, in the tech age, I’d be foolish to think I can keep the filth away. It will find them. My children need to be ready for when they encounter the darkness.

We need to be proactive in teaching our children. This doesn’t mean that we the force the issue, though. A good way to be proactive but not overbearing is to use questions to gently bring up sensitive subjects. They way I broached abortion with my oldest daughter (age 7) was by asking her if she knew why I went on a recent trip to England. She said, “to speak.” I said, “Yep. I went to speak about abortion. Have you heard that word before?” She shook her head no. I left it there. One minute later she asked what it meant, and we had an amazing conversation.

Good teaching requires knowing your children’s knowledge and assumptions. Bad teachers simply lecture and then patronizingly ask, “Does that make sense?” Don’t do this with your children. Instead, ask your children questions to find out where they are on abortion. Are they oblivious, disinterested, or already educated? Find out. Asking questions also allows for self discovery. You’d be amazed at the insight of seven year olds. They are already making sense of the world. They are forming their moral framework. When simply asked a question and introduced to abortion, children often know what to think if it.(1)

 

2. SIMPLIFY THE ISSUE.

Children, and adults for that matter, are confused about the pro-life position. We must simplify it. People need to know that we are pro-life because we believe it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Abortion is the killing of an innocent human being. Therefore, we believe abortion is wrong.

Children also need to know the reasons that support this belief. They need to know that along with scripture we are pro-life because science and philosophy direct us to be. Science informs us that from the earliest stages of development the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. And philosophically, we understand that there is nothing morally significant in the difference between an embryo and adult that would justify killing the unborn. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons to kill the unborn.(2) 

The case for life is reasonable, rationale, and remarkably simple. Children easily grasp it. Use questions to simplify the issue, teach the pro-life syllogism, and explain the science and philosophy that support our conclusion.(3) Here are some questions you can use.

  • “Is it okay to kill humans?”
  • “Are the unborn human, and if not what are they?”
  • “Would it be okay to kill unborn humans because they are smaller, not aware of themselves, dependent on their mom for survival, and living in her womb?”
  • “Are humans valuable because of what they can do like be self-aware and able to care for themselves? Or are they valuable because of what they are, a human being?”
  • “If the unborn are valuable because they are human, what should we do with them?”

There you go. It’s that simple. You can teach your children the scientific and philosophical case for life by having a conversation directed by the right questions.

 

3. TALK ABOUT IT FROM THE PULPIT.

I understand that many pastors don’t want the controversy that might accompany speaking on a social issue, but neutrally isn’t an option when it comes to abortion. Children are very observant. When the church is silent on abortion one of two things is communicated to them: either that abortion is tolerable or that it is unforgivable. Both positions are false.

The sin of abortion is a horrific sin for which the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient. People in our congregation need to hear that abortion is wrong and that there is mercy, forgiveness, and healing for those who have participated in one. When the pulpit addresses abortion, it shows the relevancy of Christianity to our children. It shows that it speaks to all of life. Speaking on it also allows sin to be seen in a concrete rather than abstract manner which makes the gospel more tangible. If you want to faithfully teach your children about abortion, the pulpit must be involved. When it is not, the church undermines the work in the home. (4)

 

4. CARE FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY ABORTION.

Training our children to be pro-life doesn’t mean that we just make then apologists. We want them to serve and love those affected by abortion. Whether this means that they serve in a local pregnancy resource center, or simply show compassion to their friends who have had an abortion, actively loving those affected by abortion must be stressed.

Do this as a family or a church family. Our youth group went and served our local pregnancy resource center by doing odd jobs for them. Our youth painted, cleaned up the grounds, folded clothes, and many other things. They also were given a short presentation by the director educating them on what the resource center did for woman. Many of our kids had no idea what the resource center was doing. This experience opened their eyes to the compassion in the pro-life movement and the reality of abortion in a way that words never could.

 

Parents, church leaders, we must be motivated. Children are almost always ready for more than we give them. Knowing when they are ready for something isn’t always clear. But I would rather make a mistake a time or two of addressing something too early rather than too late. So start early and teach the simple pro-life message in the home and the church, and may we all show the compassion that springs from the love of our Lord.

______________________________________

(1) Check out “Children asked about Abortion” by my friends at the Human Coalition..

(2) See “How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less” by Scott Klusendorf for an excellent, concise summary of the pro-life position.

(3) A syllogism is simply a conclusion that is supported by reasons. This is the pro-life syllogism in case you missed it.

  •  Premise/Reason 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
  •  Premise/Reason 2: Abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.
  •  Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

(4) I am a pastor, and I’ve experienced the fruit of speaking an equipping, gospel centered message on abortion. Pastors, you can win on this issue. You don’t need to fear taking it on. For our story and some resources on how to do this is your church, visit the Pro-Life Pastors Initiative at plpi.info.

________________________________

Michael C. Sherrard is a pastor, the director of Ratio Christi College Prep, and the author of Relational Apologetics. Booking info and such can be found at michaelcsherrard.com.

 


 

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32 replies
  1. Ed Vaessen says:

    Talking about human beings: if a impregnated egg cell dies after a few days, which happens very often, does the human being that it is go to heaven?

    Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        According to christian dogma, they are two human beings that will one day see their parents back in heaven and be happy with them. I only wonder how christians imagine the details of their meeting. Will Mom hug them? Will the twin sing the Glory of God, even without a body that enables them to sing?
        I wonder if christians ever thought about it.

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          You are assuming the parents get to heaven at all. But yes, they do think about such things, since many have endured a miscarriage or two or three. Ed, why are you spending so much time pondering what Christians ponder? Anyway, I hope the new year treats you and yours well.

          Reply
          • Ed Vaessen says:

            This text triggered me:

            “Abortion is the killing of an innocent human being. Therefore, we believe abortion is wrong.”

            If an impregnated egg cell dies after a few days, then what exactly does die? A complete human being?
            I wonder how Christians think about being in heaven. Do they think they somehow walk there in possession of a body and a mind, able to recognize their loved ones that went to heaven before them? Most jokes about heaven I heard present it as a place where people are simply alive again in much the same way as they did on earth. It is how heaven is imagined.
            If so, how does that impregnated egg cell fit in?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “You are assuming the parents get to heaven at all”

            Good point. How would it be heaven for people who are still missing their parents? Could they be truly happy for eternity in heaven without them?

          • Louie says:

            Ed:
            Let one thing be clear here, Christians only know what scripture reads, so if I say something that is not in scripture, then that is just my opinion based on what I’ve read. Scripture leads me to believe that what comes from earth, returns to the earth, and what comes from God, returns to God. Your body comes from the earth and it will return there. Your soul comes from God, and it will return to Him. So the egg cell, it returns to the earth, its soul, returns to God. How he judges it, I don’t need to worry about, since He is just and justice will be done. How do I know the soul is there at the time of the cell? It is from the scripture where it states that God knows you before you were born. Does scripture state the exact time this occurs, no; but I’ll take the side of caution and stop taking life until I known for certain its not murder. As for the details of heaven, I myself do not ponder it very much, because it is mostly speculation, but always referred to as paradise. That being said, when heaven and hell are described in scripture, its clear enough to me that I should do what I can to avoid the latter.

          • Louie says:

            Andy: You are assuming a good parental relationship, but to your point; how can I answer that question? What does scripture say about it? Perhaps we have earth like relationships, perhaps we don’t. My understanding is that scripture says we do not have bodies at all, until God resurrects everyone at the end. So only the soul is in heaven until that point? A Christian believes that God created everything from nothing. Compared to that, Him figuring out how to make me happy is peanuts.

  2. toby says:

    Why not let them get old enough so that they can think for themselves instead of shoving your philosophical ideas into their heads? Or perhaps tell them to stay out of women’s private affairs? Or say, “God’s all for abortion, such as we can see in Numbers 5:16-22:

    16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      In the passage above, who is taking the life? Man or God? That reads like God is doing it to me. God gives all life, and what God gives, God can take whenever it pleases Him. It is good to see you reading scripture. It would serve you well to keep reading, on through the entire new testament.

      Reply
      • toby says:

        God gives all life, and what God gives, God can take whenever it pleases Him.
        Says who? Sounds like double standards and subjective defining of god. “Well, god’s big and strong so he can do what he wants! Therefore he’s god!”

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          Toby: Come on now, this is scripture based. Scripture states that God made all things, and all things are His, and that includes life. This is not a definition of God. Like I stated before, keep reading the bible, and you’ll see this.

          Reply
          • toby says:

            And the bible was written by who? Men, certainly, but you probably have it itching in the back of your head that god wrote it. No, i’m sorry, but these attributes are made up.

            Tell us: if someone said that god was divinely inspiring them to write about him, would you believe them? Obviously it’s possible for this to happen, look at mormons. And scientologists. The only difference is that these people would be in the here and now and your alarm bells would be brightly ringing “FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD”. But the bible, you’ve been told since you were a wee pup, is the incontrovertible word of god. So you just believe it.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Toby:
            “Tell us: if someone said that god was divinely inspiring them to write about him, would you believe them? ”

            Not if that someone was Matthew with his silly eartquake, solar eclipse and zombie walk.

          • Louie says:

            toby: you are mistaken. as I’ve said before on this site, I once believed as you do, but I’ve come full circle. and who is the one who brought scripture into this abortion discussion… oh yeah, it was you. Only bringing it in when it favors your position, hmm, sounds like something that Christians get accused of with science… interesting…

            bottom line, you guys know abortion is wrong. you don’t need me or a god to tell you that. take a peek of the of the video from planned parenthood last year. if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.

          • toby says:

            Only bringing it in when it favors your position, hmm, sounds like something that Christians get accused of with science… interesting…
            As every preacher on Sunday does. Cherry pick a few verses to talk 15 to 30 minutes about. Do you shout “CONTEXT! CONTEXT!” at them?

            bottom line, you guys know abortion is wrong.
            Nope.

            you don’t need me or a god to tell you that. take a peek of the of the video from planned parenthood last year. if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.
            Nope. I work in a lab and see different body parts frequently. And are you trying to poison the well on atheists credibility with that last line?

          • Louie says:

            Toby:
            I do not shout at them while they are saying incorrect things at the podium, but I do let them know afterward that they are out of line, if indeed they are.
            Not sure what you are saying about poisoning the well? I did not pin point atheists with the last statement, its for everyone. That statement is only my opinion, but I stand by it. God have mercy on anyone who can watch that and not be horrified.

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Louie:
            “bottom line, you guys know abortion is wrong. you don’t need me or a god to tell you that. take a peek of the of the video from planned parenthood last year. if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.”

            We are not beyond all hope. Fact is that you are comparing apples and oranges.
            The abortion of a child 6 month after conception is murder, but there is no reason to assume that the word murder is an appropriate description for the killing an impregnated egg cell that has only divided a few times. You simply make everything black and white. Egg cell not yet impregnated? Then not human. Egg cell impregnated? Then fully human. That is how you think. You cannot imagine that there exist a gray area because it makes you feel uncomfortable.
            That is what makes your writings so elusive. When asked about your imagination of the state of an impregnated egg cell in heaven, your answer is:

            “As I told you before in an above post, we only know what is in scripture, the rest is speculation.”

            If it is speculation, then do not claim that you have certainty about the state of the soul of an impregnated egg cell in heaven and do not say that those who support abortion within legal limits are beyond hope.

          • toby says:

            Not sure what you are saying about poisoning the well?
            From the all knowing internet:
            Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a fallacy where irrelevant adverse information about a target is preemptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say.
            You either say ” if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.” because you want to discredit anything anyone else says for anyone reading what’s written here or you’re doing it to justify something to yourself. Something like, “well not everyone is good like me so i can’t save or convince everyone so this is now not my problem and my hands are clean, god.”

            God have mercy on anyone who can watch that and not be horrified.
            And there it is again.

            The whole abortion issue is just a tool used by politicians and preachers to get people wring their hands and to vote them into office or give money. If you believe that aborted fetuses get a free pass into heaven, and that the doctor and woman having the abortion are able to repent . . . then I don’t see the offense. Worse, the offense I see is your side trying to tell what people they can and can’t do just because you’re lamenting potential lives. That taken with conservative distaste for welfare, tax payer provided childcare, regulations forcing business to provide sicktime/maternity/paternity leave, birthcontrol, affordable healthcare, practically anything that would help a poor woman provide for a child, I find your side of the argument petty and overreaching. And ‘if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.’

          • Louie says:

            Toby:
            Okay, now I understand your comments. And no, I was not poisoning the well. Those comments are genuine. I feel that if a person can watch that video, and not be disgusted, then they may be beyond all hope, my opinion only. So, the other statement of mine “God have mercy on anyone who can watch that and not be horrified.”, that is also a genuine statement. I hope that God will have mercy. In the end, I also believe that you cannot out sin Gods grace; and that anyone can be saved. So for me to say what I did, is a testament to how completely disgusted I am with that, it cuts at me to watch it. And if you are that far gone, will you ever turn around and truly say your are sorry? I don’t think so, but I certainly hope so.

            The whole abortion issue is just a tool used by politicians and preachers to get people wring their hands and to vote them into office or give money. -Perhaps to some, but it is not that to all. This is not my motivation.
            If you believe that aborted fetuses get a free pass into heaven, and that the doctor and woman having the abortion are able to repent . . . then I don’t see the offense. -Oh sure, yes, and why stop there, lets kill them an any age, because you can just ask for forgiveness. Lets add the elderly in as well.
            Worse, the offense I see is your side trying to tell what people they can and can’t do just because you’re lamenting potential lives. -Yeah, just lives, that is all. Like the one you are currently living, because you were not aborted.
            That taken with conservative distaste for welfare, tax payer provided childcare, regulations forcing business to provide sicktime/maternity/paternity leave, birthcontrol, affordable healthcare, practically anything that would help a poor woman provide for a child, I find your side of the argument petty and overreaching. -Wow, way to lump people into groups and judge. Its like you are reading my mind?? I am a Christian, not a conservative. Read scripture, and figure out what that tells you about life and society and government, and that is where I will be.
            And ‘if that does not turn your stomach, then maybe you are beyond all hope.’ -Beyond all hope of what?

          • Ed Vaessen says:

            Louie:
            ” I feel that if a person can watch that video, and not be disgusted, then they may be beyond all hope, my opinion only.”

            This feeling of disgust is very much linked to what we recognize as human in the fetus and that depends on the stage it is in.

  3. Ed Vaessen says:

    Louie:
    “That being said, when heaven and hell are described in scripture, its clear enough to me that I should do what I can to avoid the latter.”

    I wonder how that soul is imagined. You seem to think it might suffer in hell. In that case: does it know why it suffers there?

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      I’ll leave the imagining to you. I seem to think it might suffer? Good grief, stop acting like this is new information. Grab a bible, go to the concordance and look up “hell” and read the verses that describe hell. Then come back tell me if there is suffering in hell & whether they know why they suffer.

      Reply
        • Louie says:

          Ed: did you read the scriptures regarding hell like I suggested? what did you find? It does not matter what I think, its about what scripture states.

          Reply
  4. Ed Vaessen says:

    “Luke 13:28: In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. ”

    This sounds like there is some consciousness that enables the damned soul to suffer in hell.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Luke:23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham from afar, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. For I am in agony in this fire.’
      This also sounds like this guy knew what was going on. Not sure he knew why though. Now Ed, you tell me, does scripture state that this is “unpleasant”?

      Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        “This also sounds like this guy knew what was going on. Not sure he knew why though. Now Ed, you tell me, does scripture state that this is “unpleasant”?”

        Quite so I would say.

        In other words: the Bible tells us that the soul in the hereafter is conscious and can suffer (or find happiness).
        And now I am so curious about this impregnated egg cell that dies after a few divisions and how that human being experiences the hereafter. Perhaps in heaven he will say: “I am happy and I deserve it because I was a good, impregnated egg cell.”

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          As I told you before in an above post, we only know what is in scripture, the rest is speculation. Perhaps the soul is in heaven thinking about that, but I doubt it. Its soul is probably worshiping the almighty, since it knows it was not “good enough” to deserve to be there. But, Jesus paid the price of admission so it could be there none the less. Same way with you and I.

          Reply
    • Scott says:

      It is very simple.

      You have a choice to make: your way or God’s way.

      If you choose your way (not with God) while you’re on Earth, why would you expect to be with God for eternity? Since God will judge everyone, every person will know there is a God and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for everyone that chooses their own way.

      Reply

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