Thursday, October 25, 2012

Politicians, Rape and Bad Theology (Part 2)



The answer is that God doesn’t want that. 

Just because God loves life doesn’t mean that he intends for every person to come into being. 

Wait. 

What? 

Just because God loves life doesn’t mean that he intends for every person to come into being.

    Some people will read that and conclude that if God does not intend for some people to be born, then some people are not wanted by God.  Nothing could be further from the truth but in order to see why, we have to think carefully.

    Consider this example: If a birthmother chooses to give up her baby for adoption, it has nothing at all to do with the goodness of the child.  Many of those children will assume they were adopted because their birthmother didn’t want them or that they weren’t good enough, or that something was wrong with them.  Many suffer for years until they understand that their birthmother wasn’t keeping them even if they were perfect.  Birthmothers give up their children because they are unwilling or unable to be a parent.  Their choice has nothing to do with the perceived “goodness” of their child.  Often, birthmothers would like nothing more than to keep their child but understand that, for a variety or reasons, they cannot. 

    Giving a child up for adoption has nothing to do with being “wanted” and neither does rape.  Just because God doesn’t intend for a woman to become pregnant as a result of rape, doesn’t mean that God will not love the child that is produced.  

He does.  

    I am the fourth child in my family.  I was born five years after my next older brother.  It is well known that my parents thought they were done having children.  I was an accident.  My existence is unintended but I have never had any doubt that my parents welcomed me, wanted me and loved me since the moment that they knew I was coming.

    God does not want women to be raped nor does he want them to suffer the emotional trauma that will follow them through an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.  Even so, that does not mean that he does not love and value that child from the moment of its conception.  

He does. 

    What’s left to us, is an unwanted choice between two unpleasant outcomes.  We must choose between the emotional and psychological pain and suffering that will inevitably come with the pregnancy, and the destruction of that unique and valuable life that has been created as well as the emotional and psychological pain and suffering follows that choice.   

Neither choice is a good one.

This is a complicated and difficult theological problem. 

When politicians try to oversimplify it, they sound stupid.

(Click here to go back to Part 1)

Politicians, Rape and Bad Theology (Part 1)



    What is it about politicians this year?  I know it’s an election year, and I know that politicians often say (and do) downright dumb things, but it seems that this year an unusually large number of politicians are saying them.  Some of these things we can just laugh at, but as a pastor I cringe whenever politicians make pronouncements about theology and religion.  Several things have been said this year that defy common sense.

    Most recently, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that that pregnancy resulting from rape can be "something that God intended."   He has since clarified his remarks and made it clear that God does not advocate violence or rape but that if a child is conceived through rape, that this is something that God intended to happen.

    In order to even begin we need to review what we know about God.  First, God is good.  Not everyone believes this, but Christians do.  We believe that God created human beings for a reason and that even though we don’t always understand why, God loves us and wants what is best for us.  Second, God is omniscient, which means all knowing.  The Bible tells us that God knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen.  Before he created the universe he knew everything about us.  Third, everything that happens does not happen because God wants it to happen.  The whole story of Adam and Eve teaches us that human beings are stubborn and will do things that God commands them not to do, things that hurt themselves and others.

    Saying that rape is a part of God’s plan is patently ridiculous.  Rape is violent, brutal and is both physically and emotionally damaging.  Victims of rape often require years of therapy and some are never the same again.  It seems obvious that this isn’t something that anyone ‘good’ would want.  Richard Mourdock has essentially acknowledged this in his explanation but I don’t understand his assertion that a pregnancy as a result of a rape is something that God intends.

    I suspect that Mourdock’s thinking is that since God is a good God, and also a God that is the creator and protector of life, that once a life has begun in the womb, that this must be something that God intended.  Frankly, I don’t follow that logic.  Pregnancy as the result of a rape can add a significant emotional burden to a woman who is already suffering the effects of the original trauma.  The pregnancy can, and will, stir the memories of her rape over and over again and each time they return, those memories will cause the victim more pain.  Again, I come back to the question, “How can a good God want that?”

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