The internet has blown up a bit today over a statement made last night by Richard Mourdock, a Republican candidate for an Indiana U.S. Senate seat. While making a point about abortion during a debate, Mourdock – apparently an evangelical Christian – articulated the view that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”
Christianity Today has the story:
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
It’s hard to believe that anyone would really believe what Mourdock seemed to say, that rape itself is intended by God. And in fact, even he doesn’t believe it. He later clarified: “What I said was, in answering the question form [sic] my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.”
Obviously this whole issue is challenging. Any theological statement regarding the purpose of God in something as hideous as rape must be sensitive to the devastation and pain victims of rape face. Most of us who are likely to comment on this topic on a theological or political level will never deal with the topic on a pragmatic level. Additionally, many would struggle to tolerate, even for a moment, the notion of a good, just, and loving God willing or pre-ordaining something so fundamentally unjust. In the excerpt above, Mourdock himself ultimately recoils from that insinuation. “That’s sick. Twisted,” he says.
But if that truly is sick and twisted, what are we to make of these words?:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:22-23)
While the crime of rape is as heinous and evil as most of us can imagine, it pails in comparison to the heinous evil of the crucifixion of the Son of God. And Scripture is quite clear – as we just read – that God did indeed pre-ordain the death of his Son. Furthermore, that pre-ordaining is neither sick nor twisted; rather, it is grace. Because if God hadn’t, all of us would deserve the fate due to rapists.
Rape is horrible. Pregnancy on account of rape seems brutally unfair. But if God pre-ordained and used the horror of the cross, surely we must concede that he can pre-ordain and use these lesser horrors?