Comets For Life Club Attends March for Life with Holistic Pro-Life Perspective
Size. Level of Development. Environment. Degree of Dependency. These words dominated the white board in Comets for Life club leader Dawn Synstelien’s office. Boxed lunches lay on the laps of nearly all of the thirteen students planning to attend the March for Life rally as the club received training on starting conversations with those they would encounter on their trip.
The Comets for Life club is attending the March for Life in Washington D.C.. In their training and preparation they called on Wayne Stender, leader of Hillcrest’s Evangelism club to give training in starting and engaging conversations on the street.
Wayne brought out a handful of tactics to explain the logic of the prolife position. He has used these tactics in conversations throughout the country. He veered from the original message to explain some important aspects of the prolife position.
Wayne centered his presentation in Genesis 9:6. He outlined that the most significant aspect of marching for life is protecting the lives of image bearers of God. He spoke to the challenge the culture has in respecting life when humanity loses a reverence for the miracle and grace of life.
Next to the large words “size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency”, Wayne wrote other words. Elderly. Sick and illness. The word Preborn was at the top of a list of other groupings of people. Wayne highlighted that while the March for Life centers on defending the unborn, being pro-life actually involves a love for all people because all people are made in the image of God.
During the question time students asked how they should start conversations. Wayne gave the group an assignment to talk to at least one person during the course of their trip about the right to life issue. He told students to use him as an excuse, saying that nearly everyone is sympathetic to a student when a teacher gives a teenager an assignment.
“Tell them, ‘I have this annoying teacher who said I have to go out and ask people questions. Could I ask you a question?’” Wayne gave them instruction. He went on to say, “Just ask them what they think about when life begins.” He told them to keep the conversations light and fun, to work to gather perspectives for why people think the way they do. He encouraged them not to make judgements, but instead to truly understand what some ideas are for people to be pro-life or pro-choice. He then gave them the SLED acronym; size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency, as a simply way for them to explain why they logically support a pro-life position.
He told them that the size of a person does not determine their worth in society, so why should we place that same benchmark on the unborn? Just because a person is smaller in the womb is not a good reason to terminate their life.
He then went to explain an argument for life from a person’s level of development. He said that his two year old son is not considered less of a human even though he is less developed than an adult. It is ethically improper for a person to be terminated simply because they are less developed. He went on to identify how a person in the womb, from the moment of conception, is on a path of human development. Logically, it does not make sense to terminate someone less developed outside of the womb, and it does not follow logically that we should value a person in the womb differently either.
He moved to the argument for environment. He spoke to a group of people in an airplane. He said that they were all human persons with a distinctive right to life, even though they are all in a different environment and are wholly dependent on the airplane to sustain a life-giving environment. He said that just because a person might be in a different environment that does not determine their right to life.
He paused on this point for a moment, sharing how sometimes it is natural in our culture to place the elderly or people with disabilities into homes that are outside of the normal viewing and interaction of a population. He spoke to the danger that practice causes because we then view the infirmed, the poor, and those who have other physical differences as less than human because they are not in a mainstream environment. Wayne said all life is important to protect because all life should cause awe and wonder, and human life bears the image of God.
Wayne closed out the presentation by explaining the concept of explain degree of dependency. He pointed to one student in the room, referencing her father who is on a daily medication to manage an imbalance in his body chemistry. If the father misses a daily dose it is likely he will die. Wayne explained that the father is dependent on something outside of his control and his own body and it would be against many codes of conduct to terminate his life because he is dependent. He then said that a person inside the womb, while dependent on the mother for sustenance, should not be able to be terminated simply because the pre-born are dependent.
A handful took notes in the group, writing down the SLED acronym, while others emailed Wayne later for the details. They took his assignment, nodding their heads in agreement that this trip should not simply hold a walk down Pennsylvania avenue and good food in Washington D.C.. The group wants to make a difference, and in engaging conversation, calling others to think through their position, they are starting to build muscles of interaction with challenging and difficult topics that are impacting their generation.