Should Christian Pro-Lifers Use Graphic Imagery?
There was no mistake at all in my decision to send you the “Would Jesus Use Bloody Pictures” sign designs. I suspected that these signs might be helpful to you as you consider the efficacy of graphic images as a means with which to express the inexpressible horror of abortion. I believe my judgment was at least partially vindicated by your admission that, despite your initial misgivings, those signs “really speak to me.”
William Wilberforce used deeply disturbing artists’ renderings to depict the unimaginable privations of slavery. Photographs of children being mistreated in mines and mills and factories finally turned the public against child labor abuses after years of futile speeches and essays had been roundly ignored.
When Christians ask “Would Jesus use bloody pictures to make His point?” it is important to bear in mind that our Lord controlled every aspect of his arrest, trial and execution. He arranged to have Himself beaten nearly to death before stumbling through the most crowed part of Jerusalem on the most crowded day of the year. His bloody body horrified throngs of Passover pilgrims — which included large numbers of families with young children.
He then permitted himself to be stripped naked and tortured to death in full view of still more passersby, including more children. The Romans used executions to intimidate subjugated peoples. They located crucifixion cites conspicuously for maximum public exposure. Our Lord accommodated Cesar by going out of His way to make the disturbing spectacle of His death as public as possible. And in the process, He chose as the very symbol of our faith, a bloody instrument of torture. His point was to disturb us with the gravity of our sin but bless us with the grace of His forgiveness, despite the fact that many children would be traumatized in the process. I don’t believe we err in following His example.
Ephesians 5:11, says we are to “Expose the deeds of darkness.” When we hide the horror of great evils, we empower those who commit those evils. We make more vulnerable those who are victimized by those evils.
If you decide to help our associate Andrew Stephenson outside UK abortion clinics, you don’t necessarily have to hold an aborted baby photo. We want our presence to be a prophetic witness against evil (hence the revelatory abortion photos) but we also want it to show the love of Christ. Andrew’s photos tell women what they shouldn’t do — but we also need compassionate women (not necessarily holding signs) there to pray and offer mothers the help the need to do what they should do. These two elements of our ministry are mutually reinforcing and create a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.
You are obviously under no obligation to make any commitments at this point and I am certain that God will bless your school presentations with our prenatal video. But please pray about merely coming out and observing one of Andrew’s events. You can watch from afar if you wish. Reserve judgment until you have a clearer understanding of this approach to ministry.
I know many people who are “pro-life.” It’s easy, in some measure because “choosing life” offends almost no one. It is being “anti-abortion” that upsets nearly everyone. Being “pro-life” has unquestionable value. But we will never stop baby-killing until more of us are willing to go beyond merely proving the humanity of the baby and demonstrate the inhumanity of abortion. If God doesn’t call you to hold a photo, then leave that task to Andrew. But please pray about joining Andrew to minister to the mothers whose minds are changed by Andrew’s photos.
The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform
PO Box 219
Lake Forest, CA 92609
From: Jennifer Stone
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 4:01 AM
To: Gregg Cunningham
Subject: RE: New Church Project Signs
I have been having a little ponder about the use of shocking images since I last replied to you – and I will continue to do so. I hadn’t thought about it for ages ….
The bottom two images really speak to me. At first I thought that they were actually aborted babies arranged on a cross. Could you do that graphically?
For me the severed hand on a coin really is a peak into a hell. There is no element of hope within the image. Whereas on the cross, a wealth of faith and hope floods my mind too, without taking away from the power of the message.