Est. May 2008

26 October, 2012

On Rape, Dick Mourdock, and Susan B. Thistlethwaite

In the wake of Indiana Republican Dick Mourdock’s ill-spoken defense of opposing abortion in the case of rape, Susan B. Thistlethwaite writes what I believe to be four of the most egregious and vicious statements I’ve ever read in any of her columns. 


First off, though, I will give her credit for calling rape a sin because it is: rape is evil, pure and simple, and as some writers have said, it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control.  But rape is sex – it’s sexual intercourse without consent – and one of the potential outcomes of sex is conception of a baby.  And throughout this diatribe, Ms T correctly condemns rape as evil, but incorrectly condemns conception through rape as evil as well.

Statement 1:
No, God does not “cause” either rape or conception following rape, nor is this God’s intention.” (emphasis mine)
Of course, God does not cause or condone rape, but God doesn’t cause conception?  Sarah (Genesis 18:9-15), the women of Abimelech’s household (20:17-18), Rebekah (25:21), Rachel (30:1-2, 22-23), the wife of Manoah (Judges 13), Hannah (1 Samuel 1) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25) are all examples of God’s control over conception; either Ms T is engaging in willful deception or she is painfully ignorant of her Bible (I lean toward the first, as Ms T is a reverend and was the former president of Chicago Theological Seminary  – I would hope she knows what’s in the Bible).

Statement 2:
Not only is the physical violence part of the sinfulness of rape, so also is one person forcing his will on another. This diminishes the image of God in the one forced against her will, as God created human beings to be able to act and be creative, not to be passive and acted upon (Genesis 2-3). (again, emphasis mine)
What diminishes the image of God in humanity is threefold: we are not God, therefore we cannot perfectly reflect who and what God is; we are steeped in sin, and God contains no sin at all, nor does He create sin in our lives; we further tarnish the image of God in ourselves by our willful and unrepented embrace of sin.  Is Ms T alleging that the victim of rape somehow willfully embraces the sin that is inflicted upon her by the rapist? 

Additionally, were the God-images of Dinah (Genesis 34:1-2), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5) and Tamar (13:1-14) all diminished because they were victims of rape?   I highly doubt it, particularly in the case of Bathsheba, who went on to conceive and give birth to Solomon.

Statements 3 and 4:
Rape is sin by the perpetrator and God does not cause sin. Conception following rape is a tragedy, not part of “God’s will.”

-snip-

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. (again, emphases mine)
God created life ex nihilo – from nothing – which we cannot do; but even in our sin-tarnished state we can mimic this creative ability by conceiving and producing children – new life.  To call conception of a child, even one as a result of rape, a ‘tragedy’ is a slap in the face of God Himself, who gifted us with this ability to make a little miracle.

Then, to add insult to injury, calling conception by rape a ‘sin’ is definitely calling God the author of sin, since God authored conception when he made man a sexually reproducing creature and told Adam and Eve to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.

But for me the most terrifying thing is that Ms T ‘counsel[s] women all the time who have been raped’:
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.”
Yet the rape they endured diminished the image of God in them, and the baby they’re carrying is a ‘tragedy’.

How helpful.

In fact, the victim of rape has been violated; but, as God will, He turns the evil which we endure into something good for us.  Rape is horrible, yet how wonderful and miraculous the conception of new life?  A baby, conceived either consensually or non-consensually, is a miracle – a miracle in that as sinful as we are, as much as our sin turns God’s stomach, He still gifts us with a tiny piece of Himself in our ability to make new life.

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