In his groundbreaking Pro-Life book, Persuasive Pro-Life, Apologist Trent Horn teaches pro-life ambassadors to follow these five ambassador rules when they engage in conversations on not just abortion but any controversial topic:
- Don’t be weird.
- Make your evidence bulletproof.
- Use questions instead of statements.
- Actually listen.
- Agree whenever possible.
Right now, we're going to delve deeper into #3 - Use questions instead of statements.
When we make statements in conversation, they can turn unintentionally into speeches that get ignored. A better approach is to ask questions, because this lets us steer our conversations toward the truth without having to “preach” the truth to anyone. I have found that there are four questions that are essential to any good conversation, including those regarding abortion:
- “What do you believe?” Too often we assume what someone else believes based on their income, their race, their gender, their religion (or lack of religion), or some other external factor. Never assume what someone believes. Instead just ask.
- “Why do you think that’s true?” or “How did you come to believe that?” How a person arrived at a belief, or why he thinks it’s true, can be even more interesting than what he actually believes. It’s vital to discover this so that you can help the person see where his thinking went wrong if he happens to have a false belief.
- “What did you mean by [fill in the blank]?” If we don’t stop and define the words in our conversations, we run the risk of misunderstanding the other person. Here are just a few words whose meanings can vary dramatically between people when they talk about abortion: life, choice, rights, fetus, person, human, and even abortion. By carefully defining the words being used, you will be able to talk to people you disagree with instead of talking past them.
- “What would you say to someone who says [fill in the blank]?” After you learn what the other person believes and why he believes it, you may want to challenge his belief and show him it’s false. It is not disrespectful to challenge the truth of someone’s beliefs. You can respect a person and be kind to him without respecting any particular opinion he has. By using a question from a hypothetical inquirer, instead of a direct accusation from yourself, the person with whom you’re speaking is less likely to become defensive or take the challenge personally.
Asking a question is especially helpful when you have
conversations with the two toughest audiences: family and people on the
Internet. Conversations with family and close friends can be explosive, since
they know us well and can push our emotional buttons. Conversely, conversations
on the Internet can be explosive because those people don’t know us well and
can hide behind a veil of anonymity that emboldens their rude behavior. In both
cases, a set of questions can lower the level of hostility. With enough
practice, without having to make a single statement, you can help a person see
that what he believes does not make sense. One way to do this is to ask what I
call “dumb questions,
To help your conversations on abortion, I recommend asking one of these ten “dumb questions.”
- What is abortion?
- What is a child?
- What is a human?
- What is pregnancy?
- What’s wrong with being pro-abortion?
- Why is it wrong to kill a newborn baby?
- What does abortion do to the fetus?
- Is there a difference between a condom and an abortion? (If so, then what is it?)
- Why is abortion a sad or difficult choice?
- What is so upsetting about pictures of abortion?
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