Benjamin Watson on Life, Human Dignity, and Justice
Nick Vujicic: Hello and welcome back to the Nick V Network, the Nick V TV talk show where we are talking about Stand For Life, a series where I’m interviewing, having the honor and privilege of talking with experts in their field, leaders of incredible nonprofit organizations that all have collectively come and aligned together for the sake of the movement to Stand For Life all across America, the greatest country in the world where we have the right to fight for our freedom, fight for our voice, and fight to Stand For Life for those who don’t have a voice. Today, right here with you interviewing Ben Watson. Now listen, here’s the intro. Ready? This is his bio, former NFL star and VP of Strategic Relationships. Born December 18th, 1980 is a former NFL tight end now retired. Watson’s career included playing for the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans Saints. Graduated from University of Georgia and after an All-SEC senior campaign, he was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.
As a Patriot, Benjamin was blessed to receive a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season and appear in another Super Bowl in 2007. Watson served on the NFL Players Association Executive Committee and as an NFL spokesman for the All Pro Dad campaign. This man is a man of God and look, since his retirement, listen to this, he stays busy with his foundation, One More and enjoys time with his family and leading on issues of pro-life. Ben Watson, what’s up? I love you. How are you my brother? I’m so sorry we’re not in studio to give you a hug, but thank you for joining me here on Stand For Life.
Benjamin Watson: Yeah, man, good to see you as always. I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for what you’re doing.
Nick Vujicic: Nah, man, we’re all in this together. We are unified to see God move through all of us collectively together to make everyone aware that now is the time to stand full life. Listen, we all know Roe V. Wade overturned. Where were you when Roe V. Wade overturned, what did you feel, and what does that mean for you today in being a part of Stand For Life where so many people are saying, “You know what? Let’s see this movement and let’s continue to boldly, yes, we’ll celebrate, but let’s continue to fight and Stand For Life.”
Benjamin Watson: Yeah, I remember where I was, it was June 24th of this year and I was actually, my wife and I were traveling to Dallas to go speak at an event down there and my phone started blowing up as we were about to depart to go to the airport that Roe was repealed. And I tell you, Nick, the emotions, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I think that I was more emotional when the leak happened than when the actual repeal happened because I think once the leak happened, much of the emotions got out, the crying, just the feeling that, “Wow, this is actually happening.”
And then to see it actually happen, there was a feeling of thankfulness, of gratefulness. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that we should be very excited and celebratory about this happening. Look 50 years, 63 or so million children, and not to include the children that they would’ve had, not to include the mothers and fathers who are impacted, the communities impacted, but also there should be a feeling or there is a feeling for me of, “Okay, what is this next chapter? What does this new fight for life look like?” Because we are in a different time and while we celebrate, we all understand that there’s so much work still to be done.
Nick Vujicic: Yep, absolutely. And thank you for standing for life, sir. You’re an incredible man of God with a lot of passion. I want to know, Ben, from the very beginning, where did it start for you? What gave you a passion for helping people to choose life?
Benjamin Watson: I think, Nick, that I saw a lot of that growing up. We are products of our upbringing a lot of times, and while the grace of God can cover any sort of upbringing and we change as we become adults, I did see my parents demonstrate a heart for people and they cared about helping people spiritually as well as physically. I saw them be people who others looked to when it came to council and wisdom and those sorts of things. And so I grew up understanding the importance of life, not only from a biblical perspective of people being made in the image of God, but also simply from a human dignity perspective and understanding that we all have value regardless of so many different factors that we check boxes on when we fill out the census. And so, for me, specifically, I think that the issue of life became a justice issue.
I always had a desire to see fairness happen, equity, equality, those sorts of things when it came to seeing people that were in poverty or people who are faced some sort of injustice when it comes to human trafficking or racial injustice, all those sorts of things. For me, I look at verse like Micah 6:8 that talks about doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with your God or a verse like Jeremiah when it talks about God being a God of loving kindness, of justice, of righteousness. I see the threat of justice throughout scripture and when I look at the pre born child, I see an image bear of God that is not protected by law many times and is not protected in exercise of that law.
When I look at a mother and I see the circumstances that she may be facing or a father, the circumstances that he may be facing, I many times see a justice issue and so, like so many other issues that Kirsten, my wife and I have tried to champion, this kind of fell right into that basket as a group that needed to be fought for holistically and that’s how we got involved.
Nick Vujicic: I love it. I love it. You and your wife, what do you feel in regards to the pro-life movement in America? What would you like to see change or what would you like to see happen across our country when we talk about the movement that we are talking about here as standing for life?
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. I think the great thing with Stand For Life specifically is the synergy, the coalition building that can happen between different organizations and different people groups who may do things a little bit differently but are aligned with the same purpose, on the same issue. It was Frederick Douglass who said, “I will unite with anyone to do what is right and no one to do what is wrong.” What I would like to see different is perhaps what used to be different before the words pro-life were introduced into the political sphere as well as pro-choice into the political sphere. What that did was create a dichotomy where folks who Stand For Life feel like they have to pick and choose which side that they’re going to be on. Where my perspective and my hope for the pro-life movement is to be kind of what we call a big tent movement.
You can be Republican, you can be Democrat, you can be conservative, you can be liberal, you can be someone coming from a place of poverty or someone coming from a place of wealth. You can be in different religious sects, but you know what, on this issue of protecting human life, we want to come together and do whatever we can not only to protect life in the womb, but as we talk about so many times, Nick, to be people who stand for womb to tomb life. I would love to see the pro-life movement, I think, and I think we have a great opportunity now to be a movement that exudes that. That says, “You know what? I may not agree with you on everything, but on this, can we come together and save life because it’s vitally important.”
Nick Vujicic: Amen. Look, and as we get vocal and learning about how to engage and go into the communities, listen. There’s so many things that I wish the general people would know from the pulpit, but they’re not talking about it. We the people can engage with our churches and outside the churches with people, with our friends, our work colleagues, our neighbor who knows what opportunities are going to be lying ahead for you. If you give God your yes to join the movement, give us your name and email at this website, standsfl.com/nick/. Please join us, join the movement, take the pledge and say, “Yes, I want to know what’s going on. Tell me what’s new, what’s going on politically? What’s this organization doing? How can my youth pastor even get sermons to talk about this?” Whatever that looks like, go and do something and initiate that. Ben, as we do what we do and we say what we say, people see what we say, people see what we don’t say.
And in that, whether we have millions of fans or not on social media, we all have influence and we all have those that inner circle around us that will tell us, most of the time, what they think about what we think and they’ll judge us or they might put us in a box or decide not to speak to us ever again because, “Oh, you’ve gone rogue. That’s way crazy.” No, you don’t understand. And so on this topic, as you know, both sides are incredibly passionate. Ben, your former teammates as you are now as a leader in the pro-life space that role you being vocal, you standing for life, what have your former teammates said or what do you think they think about you or have they told you?
Benjamin Watson: Well, I’m going to tell you something about the NFL, Nick. It is an amazing group of men and it is a group of men who come together from various backgrounds, and because we are in a locker room, because we deal with such hardship together, different adversity, whether it be an injury, a terrible season, a Super Bowl season, you go through so much together that you love each other for who each other is, even if someone doesn’t agree with you. I think that many times what’s missing in this debate is relationship. And in an NFL locker room, I’ve had conversations with men about the issue of abortion. I’ve had conversations with them about different social justice issues or you name it, religion. We’ve talked about all those things. Sometimes we’ve fought about those things and then because I know you, and I have a relationship with you, and I value you as a person, we say, I still love you. I don’t agree with you man, but let’s go out here and do what we got to do to win this game.
The lesson I think that we can learn from that is being able to number one, value those who disagree with us, but in some kind of way, somehow, and it’s very difficult because we live very segmented sectored lives. Try to engage in some sort of relationship with someone who votes differently. It’s hard, it’s difficult, but that’s when we’re able to see the humanity in them and we’re able to have a conversation. So to answer your question, what have my teammates said? Some of them agree with me, some of them are on board and some of them aren’t. It’s no different than any other workplace where you’ve got some people that feel a certain way and others don’t feel a certain way. But I’ll tell you this and I’ll close.
When we open our voices and open our mouths and we speak, many times on controversial issues, many times there are people in our sphere of influence who want to say something but feel like they’re alone and they won’t say anything until you do. And so when it comes to this issue, there’s many times a cost that must be paid. Some people live in, some people work in corporate America or in Silicon Valley and they can’t say certain things. When you have a chance to open your voice, open your mouth and speak about it, you’d be amazed how many people feel the same way, but they feel like they’ve been silenced.
Nick Vujicic: Amen, Ben, amen. Friendship is what I’m hearing, relationship, being real, having that space to have that conversation. There’s a lot of people, especially the last three years, where this friendship, relationship thing and interaction has really put everyone in an isolation and that we can’t play the victim card. Look, we are two people that don’t play the victim card and we want everyone watching, you can’t play the victim card of any excuse why you are not actually engaged with some friendships within your church. I couldn’t care how old you are or young you are. I couldn’t care what community you are in. You can engage with somebody, talk with somebody. So many people are affected with this issue of abortion, women, men as well, and families who’ve all been affected with abortion. Give us some tips, Ben, about someone watching who’s not an NFL star, who don’t have that locker room experience with other people and they go to church once a week.
It’s not really talked about at the church. How do we start the conversation? Is it like, “Hey, Roe V. Wade,” I mean, what a great easy way to go in. “Hey, how about that freaking Roe V. Wade?” I mean, do you really need another, how do I start a conversation? “How about Roe V. Wade was overturn? What do you think about that? How was that for you? Where were you? What did you feel? What do you think? Did you know about these stats of America? What are you now?” Oh my gosh, don’t tell me. It’s a hard conversation to start up right now, but it is for some, Ben, it still is, and so help us understand someone out there, give us some tips. How can we start conversations and really engage as an individual, Christians to other people in their own community right now?
Benjamin Watson: Well, I think everything you just said is perfect. Look, there’s so many headlines right now from the last several months that it’s really easy to say, “Hey, I saw this on Twitter. I saw this on cable news.” You could spark a conversation that way. The reason why people don’t spark that conversation, however, is because abortion, religion, those are issues, politics, those are issues that we have been told very early on, don’t mess with because they can ruin relationships. And to your point, many churches have been fractured over the last several years because of politics, because of abortion.
When you look at the last political cycles from presidential on down, there have been splits in churches. One thing I think is very important to understand is that according to polling, four in 10 women who have had abortions attend church regularly. And so that also means probably that four in 10 men in your churches are impacted by abortion in some way.
I know stories firsthand of people who have been sitting in church pews and have felt so condemned that they could not speak out about their experiences. And so I think that the first challenge goes to pastors. You mentioned that pastors in our country are doing a phenomenal job with all the things that they have to do, but sometimes pastors struggle with talking about this issue because it’s so politically charged. One thing we’re doing at Stand For Life is creating curriculum not to tell pastors what to say, but sometimes as you mentioned it, they may need some material in order to broach this topic with a congregation. So from the pulpit, I think, it is imperative that pastors talk about this from a biblical perspective, talking about human dignity, talking about image of God, talking about justice as we talked about before. How do we care for those who are dealing with certain hardships?
So that’s number one. Number two, for people that are in churches, it’s engaging with those that they come into contact with, whether it’s because of a headline or because your kids are at a soccer game together. And then those that our parents, I’ll say this, we had some great conversations, my wife and I with our kids about this topic simply because it was in the news. Parents, we have to talk to our kids about this tough topic because guess what? Outside of our homes, in schools, on their teams, people are talking about it. And I guarantee you, they will not be telling your kids from the proper perspective that you would like them to be told about how to handle miscarriages, abortions, unplanned pregnancies, all those sorts of things.
So I think there are a bunch of different ways, but those are a few, and I’ll tell you this one last one, Nick, use Google as your friend. If you’re wondering how to plug in, there are 2,700 pregnancy centers in the United States. Find one of them and see how you can go and serve and learn about the services they are providing that will equip you not only with the questions, but with the information as you mentioned, to engage with this topic holistically.
Nick Vujicic: It’s amazing. To me, I’m just so inspired. I’m sorry I can’t hold back passes. Listen to me very carefully. Do you know that’s some mobile ultrasound clinics on RV actually has been bringing in more people to Jesus Christ than the average church? 22 on average of those churches who actually help a crisis pregnancy clinic are seeing more people give their life to Jesus through that clinic lives saved and souls saved. This is amazing. If your church actually does partner with the crisis pregnancy clinic, then that gives you the power to say, “Hey, listen, if you have an unexpected pregnancy, here’s some stats, church.
One out of three girls are sexually abused by age 17. One out of five young men are raped by age 17 in America. Look at these stats four out of 10 within the church.” I mean, if you need convincing, simply do this, pastor. Simply do this. Get a piece of paper for every single member on the church and this next Sunday, have them anonymously write down yes or no. Did you or did you not, or have you been actually directly or indirectly related to an abortion? Then you will see compassion of Jesus come over you. And this is more than an interview. This is more than an event. This is more than just a movement of starting. It’s you becoming the movement.
It’s you putting your hands and feet in the commitment of Jesus Christ to actually do what we got to do. My dad was a pastor. Trust me when someone said, “Oh, pastor, we need to start this program,” and he said, “Yeah, good, you do it.” You can’t do this if you’re watching me about this though, you can’t do that, but you find who in your church has been affected or in… I can guarantee you there are members in church that actually want to do something, guarantee you that your church members want to know how to talk about this.
Let’s do this. Let’s have the conversations, let’s start this, and let’s become part of the movement. Ben, I’ve got a couple more questions. One thing that I continue to ask everyone is, what’s one thing you know about pro-life and the issue of unexpected pregnancies that you just wish that everyone knew, that generally they just don’t know? There are things that you and I, we proactively have research, we proactively stand, we proactively learn about how we can actively engage in our communities and help women and families affected with unexpected pregnancies. What’s the one thing that when you open your mouth and you tell the world, “Man, I just wish you knew just this one thing that I wish everyone knew?”
Benjamin Watson: Yeah, I think it may be a response to a commonly stated characterization, I guess, of pro-life folks, that they don’t care about life after the womb. And while I can say that there are quite a few, there’s a large swath that for them being pro-life means to just check a box politically, and it’s not about serving mothers and children and families and communities after children are born. There are those, but I will say in my experience, what I wish people knew was how many folks are in this movement across political spectrums, across religious denominations, in different sectors of American society who truly do care about the longevity of human life and human thriving and human flourishing.
People who are truly committed to education, to correcting injustice, to providing for people, to addressing the needs that 75% of women would say who have abortions, would say that they need change in order for them to parent and that they want to parent. If these 75% women would say they want a parent of these things, were different. There are people I know who have given their lives to this, and so what I think I would love people to know is just the heart of so many who consider themselves to be pro-life, but truly do stand in the gap on a everyday basis, whether it’s through their prayer, through their money, through their talent, or their time for those women and for their children.
Nick Vujicic: Amen. Ben, is there anything else that you want to say to anyone or can help other people be provoked in thinking in regards to this? Is there any last comment that you would want to leave viewers with right now?
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. Well, number one, I think you mentioned a lot, come to the conference, come to Stand For Life. We truly want to see you there. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a phenomenal time, not only just to get together in the first time post Rowe, but also to strategize about what it means in this new fight for life, what it means to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary in a post-Rowe world. I think one other thing that I did fail to mention that you probably have talked about Nick, is the fact that right now, abortion is still legal in about 70% of America. Rowe simply sending it back to the states. And so even while many states have enacted six-week bans or 15-week bans on abortion, there are many states where abortion is fully illegal. As a matter of fact, 91% of abortions happen within the first 15 weeks, so the first 13 weeks.
So even if a state has a ban after 15 weeks, 91% of abortions happen during that time in the first trimester. And so our work is not done. If anything, the work needs to increase. How do we meet women? How do we meet men? How do we, not only individually, but federally. This is bigger than simply our time, our talent, meeting people’s needs. That’s part of it, but I believe that there is all the way from individuals to institutions including the church, there has to be ways in which we make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary. I don’t have all the answers to those things. I do know that at the Stand For Life Conference, we will be talking about that, we’ll be equipping, and it’s an exciting time because this is a new phase in the pro-life movement. So if you haven’t signed up, I’ll reiterate. Please do.
Nick Vujicic: Awesome, Ben, I love you so much. Yes, everyone, listen, go to standforlife.com, register, get your tickets now. Send as many people along with you, go take that trip to Washington DC as we all also do the March for Life that week. This is a national movement. We’re asking you to join us here, though, at Stand For Life, an incredible collective organization that have said to one another, “Let’s together start this new fight for standing for life because this is not over.” We are far from over, and we need to stop not just praying, and that’s great and rallying, that’s great, and holding signs of love and that’s great. But man, let’s help the church to be their hands and feet in their local communities, being equipped, being resourced, being educated and empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For those of us who’ve actually done the research here at Stand For Life in how does a local church mobilize? What can we do as a church? What can we do as Christians in our local community to support the women and families affected with unexpected pregnancies? So go to standforlife.com, get your tickets, and lastly, take the pledge. Go to stand standsfl.com/nick to give us your name, email address, so that you can be counted in this movement, Stand For Life Nationwide. Ben Watson, thank you so much for coming today. Really appreciate you and God bless you and your family.
Benjamin Watson: Appreciate you too, man. See you soon.
Nick Vujicic: Love you. Thank you for Standing For Life, and thank you for watching me here on Nick V Network, the Nick V TV Talk show, Stand For Life series. God bless you all. Have a good day.