Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 180 Movie........Is it really a 180?

For my inaugural post on this blog, I'll put out some thoughts on the 180 movie - an interview style documentary done by Ray Comfort.

The 33 minute web-based movie consists almost entirely of Comfort doing "man on the street" style interviews with mostly 20 somethings on the subject of abortion. The 180 website, and Comfort himself, claim that the interviewees in the film do a 180 on their view on abortion after they have considered the argument that Comfort asserts. During every interview, the person says initially (or alludes to the fact) that he/she is "pro-choice", but then says, at the conclusion of the conversation with Comfort, that he/she has changed his/her mind, or has done a "180" on the subject.

To his credit, Comfort does a great job at coming across as winsome and approachable with each interviewee, even if he tends to lecture more than interact. Comfort's argument (which he goes to great length to explain to each person) is not new to the pro-life position, but it highlights an obvious contradiction. His approach has three parts. First, he skillfully gets each person to say that they would not have stood idly by while Jews were being exterminated in Nazi Germany - if they were around then to do something about it. Next, (and most important) he asks, (paraphrase) if it's even remotely possible that an unborn child is a human life, should we not have the same desire (as we admit we would have for the WWII Jews) to intervene when we see those (at least potential) lives slaughtered in vast numbers? Every person interviewed answers with some semblance of "of course we would." Third (in each case) he asks them what their position is on abortion. Without exception, each one says that they are pro choice, to which Comfort responds "knowing what you know now, has your position changed?" In every case - 6-8 in total, the answer is yes. Hence, they have done a "180" with their view on abortion.

Have they? I'll answer briefly with my opinion here, but I'd like to hear from other folks.

Can a person with a pro choice position do a 180 on the abortion issue if they already acknowledge that an unborn child is a (at least potential) human life? No. They can augment their position after being presented with a contradiction in their view. That's not a 180, that's an adjustment.

The true 180 (from choice to life) on the abortion argument involves much more. The true 180 occurs in the person who previously believed that life does not begin until (a) viability (now believed to be a gestation period of at least 20 weeks) or (b) birth. This is where the pro-life argument is won or lost. I consider myself pro-life, but I'd much prefer a movie that challenges folks on their "when does life begin?" position.

To be fair, if Comfort's goal is to garner more litmus test voters for the pro-life candidate - he wins, big. The movie is potentially very effective at accomplishing this. But lets call it what it is, a (very necessary) augmentation of a contradiction that resides inherently in many folks who "say" they're pro-choice.

Epilogue - more can be said about Comfort's gospel presentation at the end of the film, which I found to be perfunctory and distracting........perhaps for another thread.


Eric Lusk said...

OK Howie, I'll bite

Timely conservation given the fact that Mitt Romney did a 180 on abortion when he was 58 yo and thinking through the stem cell issue.

I heard a stat the other day that Planned Parenthood performs 10,000 abortions for every 1,000 adoptions. Is this really what these women are choosing ? Perhaps they need an interview with Comfort, or view " Silent Scream" or have someone explain the many women who regret having abortions ?

We can parse the question of a 180 or adjustment, but from the baby's perspective, it's a TRUE 180 ! You're either pregnant or not; Dead or Alive !

My .02


John C. Howard said...

Good read. No one knows if they did a true 180 or not. That's actually true for most any opinion. Even those that come to Christ (the greatest of all '180's) at times feel the doubt or pressure from the 'other side' that can, if not reaffirmed through faith, lose hope that they have had a true 180. With that being said, it's never true to know (besides the person themselves) in any situation if a true 180 has occurred. Also, Comfort's way of presenting the Gospel is definitely different from maybe the way I do it, but it seems to be genuine and bold. Something greatly lacking in the church today. He may only reach certain people with his presentation, but it's the spirit who draws them in the first place. I hope to gain boldness in that area like I see some of these modern day evangelist exude. Good read!

Howie Espenshied said...

Thanks guys, appreciate the comments. W - great point about the 180 for the baby - that is the bottom line - well said........and John, you're right - no way to confirm a "180" in the heart (unless it is from death to life - which is actually a spiritual version of W's point).

I had watched the film because it was recommended by John Piper and a few other pastors I like. I like Comfort's passion and his ability to help people see a very common and frustrating contradiction in the pro-choice position. But I didn't like the 180 gimmick. It doesn't appear to be indicative of what is really happening.

Rational νεόφυτος said...

It's a good film to see, not to see any radical 180 changes, but rather to see what Ray says to these people, and to hear what some people are saying out there in the world - particularly the creepy guy with the mohawk in the video.