Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rape and the Will of God

GOP senate candidate Richard Mourdock (Indiana) believes in God’s will, and because he believes in God’s will what he said about pregnancy through rape isn’t the outrage that his opponents say it is.

What candidate Mourdock said was that he opposes abortion even if a woman becomes pregnant via rape because “it is something that God intended.” Mourdock issued a clarifying statement saying that he didn’t mean to imply that the rape was God’s will, only that the pregnancy was God’s will. But this is a false distinction. If God intended the pregnancy, then God must have intended the rape since there would have been no pregnancy without the rape.

Honestly, there should be no controversy here. If you believe that God runs the universe, then everything that happens is God’s will. If you win the lottery—God’s will. If you develop cancer—God’s will. If you are raped—God’s will. If you become pregnant because of that rape—God’s will. If God doesn’t will something, how can it happen?

Of course you might object, and say that the rapist had free will and could have chosen not to rape, but is this true? Again if the pregnancy is part of God’s plan, then the rape must be part of the plan as well. You can’t have one without the other. So the rapist had to rape, and the egg had to fertilize, and the fetus has to be born.

You may not like this theology, but it is fairly main stream. Mr. Mourdock isn’t saying anything that millions of Americans don’t already believe. If you don’t like this theology, offer an alternative.

Here are two: 1) There is no God and things happen for no divine reason whatsoever; or 2) God’s will is capricious, allowing the free will of rapists who want to rape to trump the free will of women who don’t want to be raped.

If you have other alternatives, please post them in the comments section.


Paul Oakley said...

"God" "is" not a "personal" "being" with a "will" of any kind or content but the very system of empty-full isness-wasness-becomingness. Things happen because of the convergence of infinite numbers of participating "causes," some of which manifest with the suggestion or illusion of "free will."

Changeless Chariot said...

Paul Oakley just about took the words out of my mouth -- except better than I could have said it! I would say, though, that "free will" or "conscious choice" is one of the infinite causes and conditions converging to birth occurrences and experiences, rather than it being a suggestion or illusion. Thanks Paul! Thanks Rabbi!!

Mordechai Ben Nathan said...

There is nothing new in this age old dilemma. Of course it was the Holocaust that gave rise to a reinvigoration of the debate. Broadly speaking the Saducees believed purely in free will, the Essences in G-d's will, and the Pharisees in a combination of the two. This is a nonissue to Deists for example. But for those of any faith who believe in a personal G-d intimately involved in our lives then as the expression goes: "we have a problem Houston!" In any case, if we accept the notion of the ineffibility of the Creator then there is no solution by such definition.

Dean Hall said...

Gods, as they always have over the millennia, will come and go, and these too shall pass. But a stark view of reality is hard to face for many without a religious crutch to explain away the unexplainable, which I can understand. Unfortunately, many use a god to validate their hatred, bigotry, misogyny, racism and any other dehumanizing characteristic a fundamental theist can muster. But in a world where a child dies every 4 seconds from starvation or preventable disease, GOP sanctioned divine rape, sadly, is down the list. We, as citizens of a "civilized" country, must take a hard look at the root of this problem.

Dean Hall

P.S. I'm looking forward to Rabbi Rami's class this spring's semester.

Mary Ingmire said...

My current understanding is that God wills peace, love, and harmony, that humans live in such a state with one another. Human will (aka free will) trumps God's will and things like rape happen. A resulting pregnancy is the bad luck of a biological cycle. My idea works as long as one defines "will" as "want" or "desire." To say that God desires rape and pregnancy as a result of that rape is ludicrous. Who needs a god like that?

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks for all the comments. Very thoughtful.

No One Special said...

How we respond to the myriad of painful experiences we encounter while incarnate is the purpose of Life. That is free will; generally our response choice will lead to either fueling Love or Fear of one another. It is the choice that fuels our Soul's evolution; one way or another.

I found this very difficult to put into words so I appreciate the opportunity to revisit my own Life Purpose.

Mordechai Ben Nathan said...

The problem of the Creator's foreknowledge and free will was a concern of medeival Jewish philosophers and rabbis. Hasdai Crescas believed humans had no free choice. In this regard humans are presumed to be like frogs in the well that look up at the circle of blue and think it is the whole sky. The Creator can only make sense of what we see as incomprehensible. Gersonides was the extreme proponent of free will. To him the Creator had no foreknowledge of how man would choose in a given situation. This would seem to put a limitation upon the Creator's omnipotence. Maimonides said the Creator has foreknowledge and man has free will. Hence the question of apparent evil derives from an imperfect understanding of G-d's knowledge. As thinking human's we must all necessarily struggle with these concepts. If the answer is everything is the will of G-d then who is to say that is untrue. Hindus believe in karma. They might agree that one who is raped in this life had been a rapist in another. They might argue that the rape is required for the soul to learn some
cosmic lesson. In the instant case Murdouc seems to be saying life is inviolate. Such a concept is a legitimate and mainstream viewpoint followed by many religious traditions. He expressed his view inarticulately to be sure. It is so that rape is repugnant. The belief in life's absolute holiness is a noble and praiseworthy creed. Unfortunately it is tested in circumstances like rape when emotional outrage as to the act of rape deflects attention in a negative way upon those viewing life as inviolate. In this way by hewing to emotional outrage the issue receives more heat than light.

Lyn Baker said...

Not that surprising of a statement from a fundamentalist evangelical Christian and for good reason. Seems the God of the New Testament has done his fair share of impregnating a woman himself. He didn't ask permission to have sex with Mary, he simply sent an emissary to tell her what he was about to do to her, not giving her a choice. No word as to whether she was willing or not, but she was obviously quite gullible. Once impregnated (out of wedlock, btw a big no no) she should have been taken to the edge of the city and stoned to death per the rules that God who impregnated her had decreed a few centuries before. No wonder Christians today say and do what they say and do.

Where in the World is Laraine Altun? said...

How about, there is a God AND there is free will? Are the two mutually exclusive? They aren't for me.