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Friday, April 22, 2005

Wrestling with God's Own Rapist

When one holds a belief in an infinitely powerful God, the question is not whether it is possible for God to work through a rapist – the question is whether or not he would. There is certainly plenty of Biblical precedent for God working through violence. The ancient Hebrews engaged in wars, slavery, and what can be considered excessive physical punishment under Mosaic Law. In fact, most Biblical stories hold some germ of God making something wonderful out of what would otherwise be a horrible experience. After all, rape is no less horrific than offering one’s own innocent son for crucifixion, is it?

I was taught that much of the Old Testament is reflected in the New. Abraham was told to kill his own son to prove his faith to God. Yet in the end, after it became clear that Abraham would do so, God stayed his hand. The lesson, I was taught, was that God will not require of man the same extreme sacrifice that he requires of himself. There is the threat of violence, but in the end there is only mercy.

Jesus manifests this practice. He stays the hand of the angry mob when they would stone the adulteress. He speaks to Samaritans and eats with publicans and tax collectors. He even blesses Judas – the very one that will betray him – with the power to cast out demons and to heal in his name. He forgives Peter for denying him even before it happens. Jesus became flesh so he could more openly demonstrate God’s love and mercy.

So God can work through his own son’s murder, but I cannot conceive of God working through a rapist. God’s Holy Rapist? The idea is offensive. Sin is not the work of God, it is a sign that we have strayed from his presence. Yes, God is powerful and he can still work wonders with the broken pieces made of our lives by sin – but that shows how powerful he is despite sin, not because of it.

So why even broach the subject? After all, it makes decent folks’ stomachs turn and their skin crawl. For those who’ve never experienced that horror, it brings a shudder and thankful prayer. For those who have lived through it, speaking of it invites a re-victimization and opening of old wounds. Isn’t this a subject better left alone? Only a fool would try to justify the work of a rapist as God’s will. Right?

As I blogged here the anti-Biblical right is trying to insist that is exactly what happens. They are insisting that a woman who gets pregnant from a rape attack is no different than a woman who gets pregnant voluntarily or from carelessness. If she gets pregnant by her rapist; then that is a sign of God’s miraculous and imponderable wisdom. God is making something wonderful out of something horrible.

It makes me want to either puke or punch someone in the face – whatever happens first. Rape statistics indicate that a woman in the United States is raped, on average, every two minutes. If you accept the fact that it takes a man at least two minutes, on average, to ejaculate, that means we have an ongoing chain of rape that never ends. That doesn’t sound like God’s work to me – destroying the lives and souls of over 350,000 women per year. Not the God I worship!

Here’s the thing, though. If you can make the leap that God actually wants women to be raped (that’s hard to write); then why can’t you make the leap that God actually wants women to take Plan B? If God wants a woman who is not on birth control to get pregnant, why does he need to do so violently? If something good is coming from the process of being raped; then why does a pregnancy need to even be an option?

The thing is that Plan B does not even cause an abortion – the grounds upon which it is opposed. In fact, if a woman is pregnant when she takes Plan B, nothing happens. It simply gives a woman control over the timing of her menstrual cycle so that enough time has passed to ensure every sperm cell is dead before the egg drops. If that’s an abortion, then every single woman who has a period is having an abortion every month.

The whole concept is as ludicrous as the Spanish Inquisition torturing people into converting. Of course, it often seems that the Inquisition may indeed be the preferred method of government for the anti-Biblical right. They don’t want to turn back the Enlightenment – they want to abolish the Reformation entirely. Like masochists they are rushing headlong back towards the dark ages.

I know the Bible says I should love my enemies, but these guys make it damn hard.

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