On Complexity and Compromise

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the language we use when we talk about polarizing issues. I have a pretty intense interest in discussing and acting on two big issues of our day.  I’m talking about the issues of abortion and immigration. I think that’s the most clear, unbiased way I can label two debates which, when discussed, often become clouded or compounded by smiting semantics.

This has come up for me in a few areas lately, but to start, I’ll share the following news about Planned Parenthood’s plan to reframe the abortion conversation:

From BuzzFeed:

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. “I’m pro-whatever-the-situation is.” Said another, “there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances […] It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.” A recent research push by the organization found that large numbers of Americans feel this way — uncomfortable with both the pro-life and pro-choice labels. And so Planned Parenthood’s newest messaging will be moving away from the language of choice.

Similarly, as the immigration debate is heating up again, we’re hearing a lot of buzz words there as well. Suffice it to say, I believe it matters how we talk about these things.

I’ll share some conclusions later, but here’s where I’m going: I do believe these are truly complex issues.

That said, I don’t believe that complexity demands compromise.

But it will demand sensitivity.


Effort and humility to understand.

Willingness to find and address root problems.

More compassion.

What do you think? Does it matter how we label issues or stances? How do we decide?


This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed my polarizing issues. Check out this post from 2009.



Filed under Grace and the like, grapplings, Uncategorized

3 responses to “On Complexity and Compromise

  1. I go one step further and throw gun control into the mix… but, like you, I’m learning to soften my approach (in baby steps, at least): http://o-l-i.blogspot.com/2013/01/noisy-debates-need-sound-logic.html

    • Marissa Cope

      Tim, I appreciate your post and it’s interesting we’re on similar wavelengths here…though our roads may diverge when we get to some specifics 🙂

      • Thanks, Marissa – regular readers of my blog (ahem!) know that although I hold strong opinions on many subjects, I believe scripture gives us few platforms for advocating as strongly as we evangelicals do in the public square (abortion is one, gun control is not, and illegal immigration is somewhere in the middle), and practically NO leeway in HOW we advocate for our opinions. We’re to model Christ in all we say and do, and that’s where most of us – myself included – fall woefully short.

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