Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Concieved In Rape

The Washington Post has an article by feminist  theologian Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite about the latest rape comment from a Republican senate candidate.
Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock has declared he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because “it is something that God intended to happen.”
No, God does not “cause” either rape or conception following rape, nor is this “God’s intention.”
Rape is a crime.
Nobody is saying rape is not a crime or that rape is good. That is just a straw man. What he is saying is that God can use sinful acts to do great good. Look at the crucifixion of Jesus. It was the most evil act ever. Yet it was the greatest gift as well.
When you make God the author of conception following rape, you make God the author of sin. This is a huge theological error, and one that Christian theologians have rejected since the first centuries of the faith. “Unde malum?” “Where does evil come from?” is one of the most profound questions we wrestle with as Christians and has been from earliest Christian history (see Tertullian, Apology, 39).
This is nonsense. The source of evil is a profound theological question but this is a terrible example of it. Normally you use examples where no imaginable good is in view, maybe a Tsunami or something. Here you have a new life. So you have an obvious good that flows from the evil act. 
It is cheap, easy and wrong to attribute all that happens in the world to God, as this makes God the author of sin and evil, and thus less than all good.
This is an easy, cheap, and wrong way to mischaracterize what Mourdock is saying. He is not making God the author of rape. He is saying God is the author of life even when the life is begins with a bad act. It is hard to believe Thistlethwaite can't grasp this distinction. Does she deny this? Are children conceived in rape not a gift from God?
But frankly, Mr. Mourdock, the theological errors pale in comparison to the failure of compassion your comment exhibits. Your comments are contributing to the hurt and the self-blaming of women and girls who have already been violated.
She knows Mourdock lacks compassion towards rape victims? I don't know that. I would not want to judge Mourdock or make any uncharitable assumptions about his motives.
I counsel women all the time who have been raped. They are already blaming themselves for something that is not their fault, but that society and religion teaches them is their fault.
I tell them over and over again, “It’s not your fault. Rape is violence. It is the sin of the perpetrator. It is a crime.”
Society and religion teaches them what?  Then Thistlethwaite rides to the rescue and tells them it is the perpetrator who is at fault? Whatever. But regardless of who's fault something is there is a chance of both good and bad consequences. Valuing the child does not communicate that this is somehow her fault. It just means they need to accept what has happened and move on. That won't be easy. Telling her that her child is somehow less of a child because she was raped is not facing reality.
Knowing that God judges rape as a profound wrong is part of the healing and grace for women and girls that can follow. Taking back your moral agency as a person who can make an ethical choice, as Christian ethicist Beverly Harrison helps us understand in regard to the ethics of choice regarding any pregnancy that results from rape. When you take away the capacity for ethical agency following violent rape, you are contributing to the diminishment of these human beings and impeding their recovery.
Treating them like a special case seems worse to me. Saying we respect the life of unborn children but we don't respect your unborn child because we feel sorry for you. That seems to diminish their humanity. Loving your children is part of being human. The issues that need to be dealt with are huge but pitting a mother against her child is not the answer.
Our current political polarization is a failure on many levels, but none so profound as the failure of compassion, of empathy.
There is, however, no failure of compassion so glaring as the way rape survivors are being made into political and religious scapegoats today.
Stop that. In God’s name, stop it.
Who is making the rape survivor a political issue? Pro-life people rarely bring it up. It is either the media or the pro-abortion side that always want to focus the debate on the rape exception. Yes, it shows a huge lack of compassion. So many women get hurt by that topic being brought up over and over. But what can pro-life people do? When the question is raised it is hard not to respond. They could point out the questioner has a profound failure of compassion, of empathy but they don't want to judge. 

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