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If Your God Condones Forced Pregnancy, Get a New God

[Content note: sexual assault]

I mean, I realize it’s not that simple, but could you at least consider it?

Richard Mourdock, a Republican senate candidate from Indiana, thinks we should be praising the Lord if we get pregnant from rape:

The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

Then of course the outcry began and Mourdock tried to apologize:

I said life is precious. I believe life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I abhor. That anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize.

What he seems to be saying is that rape itself is abhorrent, but the pregnancy that may result from it is not. This is puzzling. The two processes are not completely disjointed from each other. Pregnancy is a response that most female-bodied people are capable of having to sexual intercourse. If rape is awful, how can pregnancy resulting from rape be a gift?

And on that note, Dictionary.com defines gift as such: “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.”

If the way your god honors, shows favor, or gives assistance to women who have survived a traumatic and possibly violent crime is by forcing them to carry an unwanted baby and then raise that child for 18 years, you need to find yourself a new god.

Oh, and if your politician supports forcing these religious beliefs on all Americans, you need to find yourself a new politician.

But incidentally, Mourdock has not only failed at being a decent human being and at understanding the U.S. Constitution. He has also, according to at least one writer, failed at interpreting his own religion. A Chicago Theological Seminary professor writes:

Rape is sin by the perpetrator and God does not cause sin. Conception following rape is a tragedy, not part of “God’s will.” The capacity for tragedy to occur in human life, and indeed in what we call “natural evil” like earthquakes, is a result of what Christians call “the fall” from perfection as described in Genesis.

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.

Not being a Christian (much less a theologian) myself, I can’t necessarily vouch for this interpretation, but it certainly makes more sense to me than Mourdock’s.

What this suggests to me is that Mourdock, and others like him, aren’t actually interpreting their religious beliefs objectively and then coming to the conclusion that abortion is still wrong even after rape. Rather, they are reinterpreting the religion post hoc so that it supports their desired conclusion–that abortion is wrong no matter what.

Of course, religious beliefs should have exactly nothing to do with public policy, and I don’t understand how this is still up for debate. However, the fact that these politicians aren’t even expressing genuine religious ideas, but rather manipulating religion to make it seem like it supports their twisted morality, somehow pisses me off even more. Surely (whines the atheist) this is not what religion is about?

The thing about gifts is, they can be politely declined or flat-out refused or returned to the store or given to someone else. If god has so kindly offered you the “gift” of a pregnancy following a rape, you should be within your rights not to accept the gift.

A gift that is forced on someone without their consent is, by definition, not a gift at all.

Comments

  1. says

    “I mean, I realize it’s not that simple, but could you at least consider it?”

    I’m reasonably certain it is that simple a lot of the time. At least in cases where a person’s life isn’t reliant on their beliefs (i.e. a wealthy politician who runs in many circles can more easily drop the God of Rape Pregnancies than middle class person who’s entire life is wrapped up in their church). I suppose there are many factors to consider, but that just makes it yhat much more frightening to think there are situations when people have to seriously consider worshipping a god like that.

  2. says

    Hello Miriam,

    Thank you for going through this tough issue. Though I do not totally agree with Mourdock, I can follow his reasoning. I would appeal to common sense if I were Mourdock, namely,

    1. All human are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
    2. If unborn is human, then he/she is endowed by his/her Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these is life, libert and the pursuit of happiness.
    3. Unless the unborn prima facie endanger to end the life of another human being we are not justified according to American Constitution to end his/her life
    4. Unborn conceived during rape does not prima facie endanger to end the life of another human being.
    5. Therefore we are not justified to end his/her life.

    Another case I would make is to imagine a one second borne baby who was conceived of rape. Are we justified to allow his/her mother to end his/her life? If no, what makes the few minutes before birth or 9 month early justified?

    All this though depend on one thing, is unborn human. Because if it is, regardless of how she/he come and does not endanger to end another human being life, then its reasonable, if its human, to protect his/her life.

    Miriam, I might be very wrong but I love thinking and trying to understand both sides. So far I have found no good reasons but endangering to end mothers to allow abortion. I am still looking and very open for a loving, respectable and kind dialogue on this important issue. I enjoy being corrected and enlightened, for I am a fool in search of knowledge.

    Your blog follower and reader,
    Prayson

    • Sodesky says

      There are lots and lots of people in the world who have extra kidneys. You might even have one! Those extra kidneys could be saving the lives of already born people! Why would people even have extra kidneys unless God wanted them to share?

      We should make people give up a kidney even if they don’t want to. It’s safe! Saves people who will otherwise die!

      Same goes for blood and marrow! Hardly ANY risk or time loss!

      And yet, we don’t force people to give a kidney, marrow, or EVEN A PINT OF BLOOD. But you’d force a woman to give up at least nine months of her life (and for a small percentage, life itself) and expose herself to the hazards that pregnancy and childbirth can bring.

  3. judyt54 says

    Obviously this man has no idea of what else in engendered in a rape, or a pregnancy from rape; disease, genetic anomalies, genetic disorders, and the chances that any child born could have a 12 year old mother.
    All the things we have fought for for the past 40 years are slowly being overturned, all of them to do with getting those damn women back in the kitchen where they belong.
    ————————————————————–
    The problem as I see it is not the God, but the church that forces such beliefs onto its members. Granted, there will always be Hair Shirtists who believe that such restrictions are good, and will ensure them a place near the Throne. But the rest go along, because this is their religion and God don’t make mistakes, so…
    —————————————————————-

    “A gift that is forced on someone without their consent is, by definition, not a gift at all.”

    Right up there with giving someone a racoon for their birthday.

  4. Aunolin says

    I like all of the things that you said in this article, Miri, except for the (admittedly very reserved) support of Thistlethwaite’s interpretation of evil. What she is saying is that her god is, by definition, everything good in the world, so if there is anything bad it was not done by her god (q.v. “God does not cause sin”). She goes on to say: “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.” Have a baby consensually, within a Christian marriage? That is a gift from God, mirroring the divine creative love of the Trinity. Have an earthquake? IT’S THE FALL.

    I would call this theological interpretation “cheap, easy[,] and wrong”: cheap because it requires no effort to love a god which does only good things; easy because it provides a quick dichotomy for judging all the things in the world, instead of forcing someone to wrestle with an imperfect reality; wrong because a) you cannot purport to have an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent god that “hems [you] in behind and before” and yet isn’t responsible for any of the evil in its creation, and b) blaming humans for all the things they do wrong but absolving them of responsibility for all the things they do right (e.g. “I’d like to thank Jesus for winning this football game” vs. “we lost; I just need to try harder next time”) is extremely dehumanizing and is a great way to engender learned helplessness (cf governors calling for national prayer when there’s a wildfire).

    I’d just like to say, if your god condones forced pregnancy/is definitionally inconsistent with the very real phenomenon of forced pregnancy, get a new god.

    • says

      Well, I should clarify that I only included that bit to show how Mourdock can’t even get his own religion right, not because I agree with a single word of it.

      Obviously I reject everything she says as a matter of principle. Since I don’t believe in god and all. :P

      But yes, you are right.

  5. says

    I’m not going to go all gospel on you. I’m not going to go all high and mighty on you. I’m not going to go all logical on you. I just thought that maybe what mourdock was talking about is the kind of rape that you “kinda-sorta-at-the-bakc-of-your-mind” wanted to have. Hahaha relax, it’s just a joke.

    But i just want to point out that based on the god lovers that i have talked to, they say that everything that has happened is part of god’s plan. Then i ask them, does that include the people who are killed randomly, the babies who die quickly and other bad crap like that. Some would say, they are there so that we get to appreciate life more. Then in my mind i reply to them, “your god killed other people so you will appreciate life more? What a you-and-not-everyone serving god you have.” hehe now dont relax, i’m serious

    • Aunolin says

      Hey, abrainwithfeet, maybe you’re unfamiliar with how to talk to people, but leading with a mostly off-topic joke about “kinda wanting” rape is one of THE WACKEST THINGS you can possibly do. Following it up with “hahaha relax” is also probably the best way to make people think you’re a skeezy rapist.

      Do you need some articles to explain why this is? Don’t relax, I’m serious.

      • says

        aunolin, i’m sure you have your own beliefs and your own notion of how things should be. obviously, you didn’t like what i said. you have your reasons. if you believe that what i said and how i said is probably the best way to make people think i’m a skeezy rapist then i respect that. i am compelled to explain myself to you because i feel that i want you to understand where i’m coming from but maybe this post’s comment box is not the appropriate place. and i have a feeling that even if i explain myself to you, you already have your own perception of me and nothing i say will change that.

        sorry for the commotion brutereason

        • Aunolin says

          Nah, bro, I’m saying these things not to knock you down but to get you to understand why it’s not okay to joke about stuff like that in the tone that you used. I’m really into forgiveness: if you can understand why I’m saying something, that will change my perception of you.

          The basic idea here is that you do not joke about rape. There are people who read the comments section on this post who have heard “you kinda-sorta-at-the-back-of-your-mind wanted it if you got raped” over and over and over again when the people saying these things WEREN’T joking. Many of these people have actually experienced sexual assault firsthand. If you have female friends, a significant portion of them fit both characteristics. If you have male friends who have been raped, there is a 100% chance that they have heard, over and over again, from people who have no idea what they’re talking about, that it would be great to be raped by a woman.
          TL;DR WHAT YOU SAID JOKINGLY IS WHAT PEOPLE SAY SERIOUSLY

          The second part here, concerning the way you ended that paragraph, is that many people who get really pissed off about sexual assault or who even maybe mention that “hey guys, rape is bad” are invariably told to relax. Sometimes they’re told that the person, who was saying these things completely seriously, was just joking. Also, A) telling somebody to relax is an A#1 way to get them to tense up, and B) they probably were fairly relaxed until you mentioned it, and C) we’re talking about rape, so not being relaxed is perfectly reasonable.
          TL;DR WE SHOULDN’T RELAX ABOUT RAPE AND SOMETIMES “I’M JOKING” MEANS “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW I WAS COMPLETELY SERIOUS”.

          Do you understand why I had these concerns about your comment, sir?

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