I know from the outset that some of my readers will say, "We could have told you so," and "What did you expect?" and a whole host of similar things. But, hey, I am the cockeyed optimist. I always want to engage in good discussion on meaningful topics. I have a passion for the truth, and I want to explore and share it with others. Even on Facebook.
Let the laughter begin.
Richard Mourdock is running for U.S. Senate from Indiana. A few days ago in a debate, he made a comment that has stirred up all sorts of ire. A friend on Facebook posted a comment, and I felt the need to respond. It went like this.
Friend: Really Richard Mourdock? Rape is God's will and he wanted it to happen? What kind of God do you believe in?! I dare you to say that to the face of a rape victim. I dare you. Shame on you.
Me: Regardless of what a person thinks of what Mourdock actually said, there is no way his words can logically be spun to claim that he said rape is God's will. He said, "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”. The context of these two sentences clearly shows that the antecedent of "it" in the second sentence is "life."
Friend: I completely see your point. What I struggle with is exactly that though- if God intended that life to happen, it also seems like he intended me to get raped. Grammar aside, and you're right about how his words have been spun, it's just a hard thing to hear a male politician say, that I need to carry a baby to term in my own body, not because of what my personal beliefs are, but because of what he and a bunch of other (mostly male) legislators decide for me. That's my issue.
Me: There is much to be said regarding what philosophers call the problem of evil, which runs like this. If there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good God, then why is there evil? Reasoning from our own experience, we know that if we had the power to prevent evil from happening to a loved one, we would. What about God? The comment box on FB is not big enough for a full discussion, but this is one philosophical (not necessarily religious) problem that almost all modern philosophers believe has been solved. It was answered in 1974 by Notre Dame philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga in his book God, Freedom, and Evil. At only 112 pages, the book is nevertheless quite dense. I found myself re-reading any given page multiple times, but I did manage to boil it all down into a simple (or as simple as possible) three page outline. In short, Plantinga showed that it is logically possible for it not to be in the power of an omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good God to create a world with moral good in which no evil exists. Again, this is purely a philosophical response, not a religious one.
As for a religious understanding, Christians acknowledge that God created a perfectly good world, but one that included free will. This will is free to act in accordance with God's will or against that will. When considered this way, it is an extraordinary privilege and power that God has given creation to be able to act against His will. One reason for this is that He desires our love. It has often been said that the Nazis could compel their prisoners to do just about anything, even eat their own waste, but they could not force their prisoners to love them. Love requires free will. Thus, God, so desiring a two-way loving relationship with His creation, was willing to risk that that very creation would use its will against Him, as indeed we have, and never more so than when we crucified Christ. As a result, there will be evil, including, but not limited to, the evils of rape, murder, genocide, theft, abuse, etc.
Just as God is unwilling to run roughshod over free will, so He is unwilling willy-nilly to break basic laws, such as laws of biology and physics. As we all know, the act of rape, while ultimately motivated by violence, is a sexual act, and this can lead to pregnancy. He intended for the sexual act to be procreative. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. This is true of married couples and it is true in cases of rape. When that act does produce life, however, it is consistent with the above understanding of God to say that He intended it. This does not, however, logically entail His intention of the rape.
Friend's friend, whom I do not know, weighing in: I think it's groovy we got a fancy sermon right here in Facebook, and I feel a whole lot better about rape now too. Phew!
Friend: I'm only going to contend with one thing you said- there is NO WAY RAPE IS ULTIMATELY A SEXUAL ACT- IT IS PENIS AS WEAPON. And there is NO OTHER WAY TO THINK ABOUT IT. But I did think the rest of your posts were interesting- thank you for sharing.
I am not adding any more to that Facebook exchange. I would like to say to my friend's friend that my response was hardly fancy and in no way could be considered a sermon. I would like to ask her why she feels better about rape, knowing full well that her comment was made in sarcasm, the first and last resort of someone who cannot hold a real discussion. I would like to point out to my friend that I never said rape was ultimately a sexual act, but that it was ultimately motivated by violence, which I think was exactly what she was saying. I would like to point out that it is obviously a sexual act, though, in particular an act of sexual violence, involving as it does the sex organs. I would like to point out that other acts of violence cannot result in pregnancy, thus rape is indeed a sexual act.
I shall do none of these things. It is clear that genuine discussion on topics that matter cannot be held over Facebook.
You may continue laughing at me for ever having thought otherwise.