It takes a lot of courage to face the truth when it stirs your emotions by conflicting with something within you. Most people can’t do it.
Before you say to yourself, “surely, not I” – I really mean MOST people can’t do it. You and I are quite possibly some of those people.
However, as pro-lifers we tend to assume that everyone can face the truth and change if simply given the truth. We tend to assume that the truth will overcome those strong emotions. But what do emotions do?
Emotions motivate, they move people.
Does the truth really move people?
An emotional response to the truth might move someone. But, the pure truth itself rarely does that for the average person.
There have been studies with people whose emotional centers of their brains had been injured. These people are given very basic decisions to make like which cereal to buy. We would think that given no emotion and pure reason that these people would quickly find the best cereal through the use of their reason. (not being swayed by an irrational affinity for a talking toucan, for example)
That doesn’t happen.
In fact, they are paralyzed by the decision and it takes hours to decide.
Why is this the case?
Emotion plays a huge part in our decision making process as humans.
So, what does this have to do with abortion?
Abortion is a very simple, black and white type of issue right? Yes, it is very simple in terms of biology. It is very simple in terms of morality and it is very simple in terms of law.
However, it is not at all simple in terms of emotion. The failure to recognize that fact is a detriment to our pro-life efforts.
Emotion is the gatekeeper to reason.
If we ignore emotion, we will only reach someone’s reason by chance.
In my last post, I talked about how my goal in talking about abortion is to discover and overcome what emotional roadblocks someone has.
So, in this post and the next, I’d like to talk about the different types of emotional roadblocks that you may encounter. Here are the first two types:
Roadblock #1 – Identity
This is a really big one. I see this all the time.
“I’m not one of THOSE people” – “I’m ‘this’ type of person and ‘this’ type of person doesn’t oppose abortion.” – “Educated people are pro-choice (and I’m educated)” – “Pro-life people are all religious fanatics and I’m not a religious fanatic so I’m pro-choice”
This is probably the most common. It involves the lowest commitment to being pro-choice and the smallest amount of thought or reflection.
What this comes down to is repeating the common mentality. People want their concept of themselves to be consistent. If the culture says that the type of person they think they are is pro-choice then they conform.
This is why you hear so many people repeat the exact same phrases word-for-word when defending their position on abortion. They didn’t come up with those phrases. They probably haven’t even really thought about them. Generally, they just repeat them…
I’m sure you’ve seen this before.
This is also why you hear a lot of people who support abortion default to an anti-religious argument or to a political argument. This happens a lot to me and others.
You know how it goes… You’re just starting an abortion discussion and the first argument offered by your friend is that you shouldn’t force your religion on people. The irony is that the pro-choice person is usually the only one who brings up religion in these cases!
Why does this happen? Well, they just know that they aren’t religious and so they must not be pro-life.
Nobody wants to have an identity crisis. Challenging someone’s identity is a very emotionally charged experience. The fact is if you challenge someone’s belief about something when that belief is tied to their concept of their own identity, you are forcing a mini-identity crisis.
When someone is in a mini-identity crisis, they will not be thinking with reason, only with emotion. Rationalizations will abound to restore order to that person’s sense of self.
All of this has very little to do with reason and a lot to do with emotion.
Roadblock #2 – Personal Connection
Abortion is pervasive. It is, unfortunately, way too common.
Personal abortion stories are rarely talked about because of the shame and hurt associated with them. However, the mother is rarely the only one involved and sometimes these experiences are shared with close friends and relatives.
This creates a difficult emotional position for someone who has a close friend who’s had an abortion. The deep bond of friendship and love makes it very emotionally difficult to oppose abortion. This is because it is hard for many people to separate the act and the individual.
So, what ends up happening is that the friend of the post-abortive woman feels compelled to defend her BFF when the subject of abortion comes up. To assent to the logic and science that clearly show that abortion is wrong is to betray her friend. So, she defaults to defending abortion in order to defend her friend.
As you can see, this defense of abortion has nothing to do with reason or science and everything to do with emotions.
More Coming Soon
As you can see, these first two emotional roadblocks bypass reason. Maybe these are what’s behind some pro-choice people in your life who seem so utterly irrational?
I have a few more types of emotional roadblocks that I will discuss in the next post. For now, what do you think of the first two? Have you encountered these? Have you successfully gotten around the roadblock?
Please comment below!