In less than two months, America will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade–the Supreme Court decision that invalidated every state abortion prohibition and made abortion-on-demand a constitutionally protected act. On that day, January 22, 2013, the first episode in a new, online reality show will debut at KnockTV. It's called Surrender the Secret and the secret it references is abortion. Following the lives of five women who have aborted in their past, each of the show's ten episodes centers on the post-abortion Bible study (also called Surrender the Secret) that has brought these women together. Four of the women have gone through the study before (though not together); the fifth one has not.
I had the opportunity today to watch a sneak preview of episode one, and I was pleasantly surprised. Surrender the Secret is not like most of the pro-life offerings I've encountered over the years. The production value is high, and the narrative runs at a good pace. It more than held my interest, which is no small feat considering the show's setting. Small-group, Bible studies can be awkward and boring enough from the inside. Who in their right mind would want to watch one from the outside?! Dragging an audience into that setting sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I assure you, it is not.
For starters, this is not your average, run-of-the-mill Bible study. The stakes are much higher and the pain is much deeper. Group leader, Jill, shares at one point that she walked away from her abortion not realizing that her soul was hemorrhaging. That's not the kind of thing you typically hear when everyone goes around the circle and tells the group how their week was. And beyond the heightened intensity unique to this issue, Surrender the Secret makes use of helpful, reality-show conventions to keep the audience from having to stare at the same living room for 30 minutes. Cut-away interviews are regularly interspersed to help fill in the back story and reveal what the participants are feeling at any given time.
Because I have so little, direct experience with post-abortion counseling, the thing I appreciate most about this show is the access it gives to someone like me–someone who wants to better understand both the emotional trauma of abortion and the way a recovery group like this actually functions. As such, I look forward to the coming episodes where more of the individual abortion stories will be unpacked. Even more valuable perhaps, is the role a show like this can play in the lives of women who have had an abortion. It offers them the opportunity to get a glimpse of a post-abortion Bible study without having to commit to one themselves. In that sense, it's likely to remove some fear of the unknown by showing women what actually goes on in living rooms across the country. I suspect it will be an in-between step for many post-abortive women, and I certainly anticipate linking to the shows from Abort73's Finding Help section.
On the negative side, critics will look at Surrender the Secret and complain that it's a relatively homogenous group. And they'd be right. There are no women of color. By appearance, all five are of similar age and economic status, and most notably all five seem equally united in their condemnation of abortion. You get the impression that Vanessa, who hasn't done the study before, is in for more than she bargained for, but even she is already firmly in the pro-life camp. In fact, she observes that it's inconsistent for those who call themselves "pro-choice" to complain when someone else is pro-life because someone who is ideologically committed to choice should have no beef with someone who chooses to be pro-life. In condemning pro-lifers for wanting to take away "choice," they are in fact seeking to censor choice themselves. It's similar to the post-modern assertion, there is no truth, which is a truth claim itself. All that to say, these women are all starting from relatively the same place, which is why I'm hoping for a season two, and three and four...
I've no doubt that season one holds plenty of merit, but wouldn't it be great to stir the demographic pot? What would this same study look like if you included women who were antagonistic to Christianity or didn't see anything wrong with abortion? What would happen if you added a teenager who was only months removed from her abortion or a successful African-American who believes her abortion secured her economic future? Now that would make for some remarkable drama, though it's not the drama that is most enticing. It's the healthy clash of worldview and ideas–the opportunity to see whether this is just for women of a certain age or ethnicity or economic class. If you believe in the gospel's power to change lives, you believe in it's power to change all lives–especially the ones that don't fit the mold.
So as I look forward to season one, I'm already looking forward to season two!
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.