Earlier today, I tweeted this:
It was in response to reading a rumor that the Christian (as they define it) organization Focus on the Family is set to spend $4 million on an anti-abortion-rights ad during the Super Bowl. According to rumor, the ad would feature the parents of college football phenom Tim Tebow, and would tell how they chose not to abort their son, despite recommendations from a doctor (Mrs. Tebow had been on some meds that could have seriously damaged her fetus), they chose to carry the pregnancy to term, and that baby grew up to be a football star.
My tweet was re-tweeted a few times by some of my Twitter friends, people I don’t know in real life, but who I’m closer to than Kevin Bacon if it came down to degrees of separation. I know people who know these people, and who knows, maybe once we move to Little Rock, I’ll know them myself. Those re-tweets and replies stirred up more replies.
Anyway, my tweet stirred up some conversation. I would say controversy, but it was handled so respectfully that it’s much better termed conversation. And that’s an awesome thing! While so many claim the internet leads to polarization and anonymous nastiness, in this case, a tweet led to a fairly thoughtful discussion. As one tweeter kryanp (I read it as a retweet by kerrijack) put it (I paraphrase): the best and worst thing about Twitter and other social media is that they are constantly reminding us that people we like and even love can have politics we hate. This can polarize us, or it can bring us closer together, help us to find common ground, help us to avoid pigeonholing the “other side” because it turns out we know people there. This is a lesson I myself need to learn more and more often, because while I may be a tree hugging, pro-choice, feminist, near-communist, in my own family and circle of friends there are global-warming-denying, anti-choice, anti-feminist, super-capitalists. And I love them. And when I make comments about “the other side” as I am somtimes wont to do, I need to remind myself that I’m talking about THEM too. And I don’t want to talk about people I like and love that way.
All this brings me back around to what I originally meant in my initial tweet. One of the tweeters I do follow but don’t know linked to this post by a tweeter I don’t follow and don’t know (ah social media). This poster was troubled that the conversation was somehow against Focus on the Family’s right to free speech or right to air the ad. I’ll say straight off that I agree with most of what that poster wrote, particularly that the repeal of Roe is not the best way to reduce or ultimately eliminate abortion. But what bothers me is the idea that criticizing Focus on the Family and their choice to spend $4 million to run an anti-choice ad during the Super Bowl is somehow tantamount to saying they should not be legally allowed to do so.
By all means, it’s Focus on the Family’s money, and they are more than free to run whatever ad they choose, whenever they choose, no matter how much it costs. As a private organization, they are allowed to say whatever message they’d like in whatever medium they can afford.
But as a private citizen, I’m more than allowed to question that choice, and as a Christian, I in fact feel *obligated* to do so.
Do you think it’s going to be news to anyone who sees this ad (if it in fact exists) that Focus on the Family would rather they not have an abortion? That Focus on the Family would like for abortion to be illegal? We already know all that. That message has been made more than clear over the years of the “culture wars.”
What I think would be a much more impactful “kingdom message” would be Focus on the Family making news for spending $4 million to radically love on the very people they’re hoping to convince with this message. Maybe opening a daycare, where single moms could send their kids for free childcare. Or free clinics providing prenatal care for anyone who chooses to keep a pregnancy. Or using their crazy lobbying power to mandate maternity leave and childcare and healthcare and equal wages for women, all of which would enable more women to choose to keep their babies. Those sorts of things would be crazy. They’d blow people’s minds. And they’d actually lead to fewer abortions.
It’s easy for big giant organizations to raise big giant sums for big giant ads during big giant sporting events. And it’s easy to dismiss criticism of those organizations as somehow against free speech. It’s the same sort of thing we saw when Carrie Prejean and Sarah Palin have been criticized– they claim people want to take away their free speech. By all means, Carrie and Sarah and Focus on the Family are free to say whatever they like. And the rest of us who love and serve the same God as Carrie and Sarah and Focus on the Family claim to serve (though I’m not sure they’d think of folks like me as Christians like them), well, we’re free to dream of “what if.” What if those with big powerful microphones and budgets stopped telling us what they’re against and started showing us what they’re for (the kingdom, love, individuals)?