How do you convince someone “to do a 180”—that is, to completely reverse himself on one of his core beliefs?
In 180, Ray Comfort challenges people—most of them young—to renounce their belief in abortion and become pro-life. The movie is only thirty-three minutes long and can be viewed, free, on your computer at http://www.180movie.com.
Comfort’s argument is simple. He equates abortion with the Nazi Hol0caust, which he illustrates with horrifying film footage and still photos taken at the Nazi death camps. He could have showed images of late-term abortions, too, but he didn’t. The old black-and-white images from the death camps are bad enough.
But first he had to get over an unexpected hurdle: hardly any of those young people had even the foggiest notion of recent history. When asked if they knew anything about Adolf Hitler, they came up with some surprising answers. “He was some kind of president.” “Never heard of him.” “Was he German?” “Um … a guy … he had a mustache.” And even, “An actor?”
This is the most benighted ignorance, bestowed on these young citizens by public schools and even colleges. These are not Bushmen eking out an existence in the most remote region of the Kalahari. These are affluent young Americans in Southern California. We are uneasily reminded of the old adage, “Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.”
It’s also striking that so many of these twenty-somethings have taken pains to make themselves look freaky: tattoos, multiple piercings, a cigarette thrust through an earlobe, and even a pair of young women who for some unimaginable reason painted themselves grey from head to foot. Evangelist Comfort clearly has his work cut out for him. But he is focused on their hearts and minds, and doesn’t let their strange appearance faze him.
What Would You Do If … ?
Once he overcomes his audience’s ignorance about the Third Reich and World War II, Comfort then asks questions, beginning with, “Knowing what he was going to do, would you assassinate Hitler if you got the chance?” Most of the youths enthusiastically say “Yes,” but find the next question just a little tougher: “How about if you could shoot Hitler’s mother, when she was pregnant with him?” The answer is still “yes,” but with lots of hemming and hawing.
Next he asks his hearers if each would personally operate a bulldozer to bury Jews alive, if a Nazi officer threatened to kill him if he didn’t. Now the answers are mixed, ranging from, “No way, man—they can just go ahead and shoot me,” to “If it was my life, I’d probably do that.”
“What can one person do?” asked a young woman who has been touched and troubled by the questions. “Everyone needed to rise up against him.”
The questions continue. “Do you value human life?” Well, of course everyone answers “yes.” Who would admit otherwise?
“How do you feel about abortion?”
Initially most respond by defending “a woman’s right to choose.” Comfort breaks through that cliché with this:
“Finish the sentence for me. It’s okay to kill a baby in the womb when _____.”
By now you can probably see where he’s headed. Rather than reveal all of the specific content of this short and powerful film, we would like to raise some other issues.
Are You a Good Person?
One of Comfort’s “easy” questions is, “Are you a good person?” All but one of the respondents answers “yes.” And then Comfort gently but firmly convicts them of sin, one sin at a time. First lying (who hasn’t lied?), then stealing, taking the Lord’s name in vain, and committing adultery either in actual fact or in the heart—one by one, they admit to all of these sins.
“This is why you don’t want to believe in God,” Comfort tells them: “because by your own admission you’re a lying, thieving, blaspheming fornicator … and you’re going to have a problem on Judgment Day.” From here he leads them into the gospel of Jesus Christ, and finds most of them surprisingly receptive.
Hopefully we have all tried to witness for the gospel. Speaking only for myself, I’ve never encountered such a receptive audience as Comfort meets in this film. Granted, Comfort does this for a living. He’s a pro, and most of us are amateurs. Even “Steve the neo-Nazi” winds up listening to Comfort, even reconsidering his way of life. But I can’t shake the thought that if I tried to evangelize Steve, he’d punch me in the nose.
We must bear in mind that 180 is a film. In shooting any movie, even a documentary, there’s always a great deal of footage left on the cutting-room floor. It’s possible some of those young Californians laughed in Comfort’s face, made rude noises, or just walked away from him.
It takes courage to share the gospel with a stranger. No one likes to be laughed at, abused, or ignored; but sometimes that’s the response you get.
Maybe Ray Comfort makes it look too easy. Maybe he should have included footage of people rejecting him. Probably he didn’t because he did not want to discourage anyone from evangelizing for pro-life and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But God’s Word already tells us how to deal with rejection: “I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel … When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked man from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand … [I]f thou warn the wicked of his way to turn him from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:7–9).
In other words, God makes us responsible to deliver His message, but not for whether anyone chooses to heed it.
Is It a Real “180”?
Comfort converts many of his hearers from pro-abortion to pro-life, and puts some of them on the road to repentance and faith in Christ.
We are allowed to ask how sincere are these conversions, and how long-lasting. We must remember the parable of the sower and the seed (Matt. 13): how some of the seed fell on stony ground and sprang up immediately, but soon withered because it had no depth of root. But some fell on good ground, and brought forth fruit. We can have no idea which of the young people in this movie will bear fruit, and which won’t. We must leave that up to God.
I was “pro-choice” for much of my adult life. Some years ago, I read a novel, Windswept House by Malachi Martin. By the time I finished reading it, I had done my own “180”: I wished to see abortion totally abolished. The book—or rather, the Spirit of God making use of the book—converted me, and I have stayed converted. So I know from personal experience that some of the “180s” in this movie are bound to be for keeps.
Is It a Valid Argument?
Is it righteous, or valid, to compare abortion in America—more than 50 million American babies have been aborted legally—to the Nazi Holocaust? Some Jews, after all, object to this argument.
The question is crucial to Comfort’s presentation. “Pro-choice” advocates resort to various defenses, repeated by the youths in the movie: a fetus isn’t a human being; it’s just part of the mother’s body, and a woman must have absolute sovereignty over her own body; the baby may be the result of rape or incest; it may be medically defective; or it may be impossible to provide the newborn baby with a certain “quality of life” or “standard of living.”
The Nazis insisted that Jews—and members of certain other groups, too—weren’t fully human; that “mental defectives” and others, for the greater good of society—or even for their own good!—had to be “euthanized”; that the German race could not survive unless the gene pool were cleansed of assorted “undesirables” … and so on.
We cannot agree that comparing abortion to the Holocaust cheapens the Holocaust. To Ray Comfort, and to us, the “fetus” is a baby in the womb, a human being, and to abort the baby is to violate God’s commandment not to commit murder. Some 50 million such murders have been committed in our country, under cover of law. It has been more sanitary than the Nazi Holocaust, but 50 million babies can hardly be called “cheap.”
We have not devised the commandment ourselves, but received it from God. If the abortion holocaust is not like the Nazi Holocaust, we must ask the “pro-choice” side to please explain the difference—if they can. We see in 180 several individuals trying to explain the difference, but none of them succeeds. Mostly they just mutter incoherently.
It is Comfort’s hope that people will share 180 until everyone in America has seen it. DVD copies are available for $1 apiece at www.heartchange.com , along with study guides, tracts, and useful information.
It’s a powerful film, it does much to equip one with arguments against abortion, and effective ways to state the arguments. I’d very much like to see the reaction of a “pro-choicer” viewing it for the first time.
Is there such a person in your household?