The Rape Dilemma

Thanks to Google News, I can stum­ble upon all sorts of news about places I’ve nev­er been and prob­a­bly nev­er will be… news that does­n’t affect me at all, but is online, acces­si­ble, and just wait­ing to be com­ment­ed on. The par­tic­u­lar news piece in ques­tion this time is Morn­ing-after Faith, writ­ten by Bill Uhrich for the Read­ing, PA, online news­pa­per Read­ing Eagle.

In it, he tells of a doc­tor who, due to his Men­non­ite faith, refused to pre­scribe the morn­ing-after pill to a woman who had been raped. She was able to a pre­scrip­tion from her gyne­col­o­gist, but had to trav­el to a dif­fer­ent town to a phar­ma­cy which had the pill in stock.

Uhrich goes on to point out the peace­able­ness of the Men­non­ite faith, and how this doc­tor, were he to be faith­ful to Men­non­ite creedal beliefs, should not be giv­ing his tax­es to a gov­ern­ment which would use them to sup­port a war (and a dev­as­tat­ing­ly unnec­es­sary one at that). Uhrich fails to present the fact that Jesus Christ Him­self has man­dat­ed that we ren­der unto Cae­sar that which is his. Our tax­es are the gov­ern­ments, and were we to with­hold them, we make of our­selves thieves. You see, we will be held account­able for whether or not we give the gov­ern­ment its dues; the gov­ern­ment itself, how­ev­er, will be held account­able for what it does with its mon­ey, just as we are held account­able for what we do with our mon­ey. So I dis­agree that for this doc­tor to be an hon­est Men­non­ite he should refuse to pay taxes.

But regard­ing the moral­i­ty in issu­ing a morn­ing-after pill in the case of rape, what would you do were you the attend­ing physi­cian? In my esti­ma­tion, it is more a mat­ter of moral­i­ty than of med­i­cine in this case, so you don’t think you need to be an M.D. to leave a com­ment on this! 

Moral­i­ty is one of those things which so many think they have fig­ured out, and sad­ly most peo­ple seem to have come to their own inde­pen­dent con­clu­sions. I sup­pose that’s one of the prob­lems with the moral rel­a­tivism inher­ent in a god­less world­view. If every­one has their own moral­i­ty, then noth­ing is real­ly moral or immoral. Moral­i­ty, like beau­ty, becomes some­thing vague and illu­sive, exist­ing in the eyes of the behold­er only, and often mere­ly for a season.

But in the case of rape, it seems as though a false dichoto­my has been cre­at­ed: you either side with the moth­er by allow­ing her to cast off the con­se­quences of some­one else’s actions or the recent­ly con­ceived embryo by allow­ing it to come to term even if to be giv­en to an orphan­age for adop­tion. It is rarely even hint­ed at that there could be a third (or more) choic­es, and just like answer­ing Bush’s “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” pol­i­tics, unnec­es­sar­i­ly polar­iz­ing choic­es must be made.

Is there a third choice in the case of rape? I believe very strong­ly that there is, but I do not pre­tend that it is an easy choice to make because it isn’t just the mak­ing of a choice; it is a change of heart. You’ll see what I mean:

Behold, chil­dren are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3, NASB

I believe that. I can­not not believe that. Like faith, chil­dren are a gift from the Lord. (There is a les­son in the Doc­trines of Grace in there: a child could no more choose to be con­ceived than a sin­ner could choose to receive faith, but I’ll not go into that here.)

Chil­dren are a gift. God gives them. If you con­ceive, God has giv­en you a gift, and you owe Him thanks for your child; if you do not con­ceive, it is because God has cho­sen not to give you the gift of a child. It can be estab­lished quite well that in God’s esti­ma­tion human life begins with­in the womb and not dur­ing deliv­ery. The case of Jacob & Esau shows this, as does the case of John the Bap­tist leap­ing at the pres­ence of Mes­si­ah, who at the time was also as of yet unborn. Oh that our faith would rival that of even an unborn John! Oh that we would leap for joy at the pres­ence of the Holy One!

Anoth­er verse must be mentioned:

And we know that God caus­es all things to work togeth­er for good to those who love God, to those who are called accord­ing to His pur­pose. Romans 8:28, NASB

As a result of being raped, you con­ceive. A liv­ing being begins its for­ma­tion with­in your womb, a being which God has fore­known from eter­ni­ty and has deter­mined would be yours to receive. If chil­dren are a gift, then He has already worked that rape for your good. He has blessed you through that tragedy. He has turned it around and through the heinous act of a man cre­at­ed a new human who is to be fear­ful­ly and won­der­ful­ly made by He who formed the earth.

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. The idea is cer­tain­ly not for­eign to Scrip­ture: through the rejec­tion and mur­der of Mes­si­ah, eter­nal life is made avail­able to all. And for some women, the oppor­tu­ni­ty is giv­en to bring forth life from anoth­er tragedy.

And like the gift of life which came by way of the Cross, the gift of a new life which came through a rape needs only to be received. The change of heart comes in regard­ing this new life as a gift from God above. I make no claims that this is an easy thing to believe. Like Jesus at Geth­se­mane, strug­gle may be involved. Wrestling with options may occur–if it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me!

I dis­like the idea of view­ing an unborn child as a “bur­den.” I know, it is com­mon­place, and in many ways there is an increase in bur­den which comes along with it. With the gift of eter­nal life, there comes with it an oblig­a­tion and desire to serve the Lord with all thanks­giv­ing and praise. with the gift of a child, there are finan­cial, moral, and oth­er require­ments which need to be met for the next 20 or so years.

A father­less child. A hus­band­less moth­er. Such is tru­ly an unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion, but it is ago­niz­ing­ly com­mon­place. In the face of mount­ing bills–medical, babysit­ter, food, clothes, school–what can be done?

This brings me to one of my final vers­es, one which I sad­ly don’t obey near­ly as often as I should:

Bear one anoth­er’s bur­dens, and thus ful­fill the law of Christ. Gala­tians 6:2, NASB

I am remind­ed of the Cast­ing Crowns’ song Does Any­body Hear Her?, which tells of a girl who due to a church’s lack of com­pas­sion, con­tin­ues to fol­low the broad path which leads to destruc­tion. The sit­u­a­tion the girl is in isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly an unex­pect­ed preg­nan­cy (I hes­i­tate to say “unwant­ed” or “unde­sired” in light of fact “unex­pect­ed” much bet­ter suits the sur­prise of God’s gifts), but can you see how it would be?

A woman in the congregation–perhaps unwed and of good rep­u­ta­tion with her brethren–is sud­den­ly preg­nant. She does­n’t talk about the rape, and under­stand­ably so. What do her brethren do? Do they ral­ly to her aid, seek­ing to aid her in any way pos­si­ble, includ­ing finan­cial­ly? (Does any­one actu­al­ly prac­tice Acts 2:45 any­more? “And they began sell­ing their prop­er­ty and pos­ses­sions, and were shar­ing them with all, as any­one might have need” [NASB].)

Or are back­bit­ing and rumor­mon­ger­ing much more the sta­ple with­in the church­es of God? May it nev­er be so.

The Law of Christ, which we ful­fil by bear­ing one anoth­er’s bur­dens, is Love–pure, unadul­ter­at­ed love. A love which loves each oth­er and would cause us to lay our very life down for anoth­er that they may live. It is a love which the Men­non­ite doc­tor who refused to pre­scribe the morn­ing-after pill should have been quick to offer. When pre­sent­ed with such clear oppor­tu­ni­ties to exer­cise the love of Christ, should we not jump at the chance?

Per­haps the woman does­n’t know Christ. Per­haps she had nev­er cracked open a Bible. Per­haps she has nev­er felt the love of the Cre­ator. What a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to show her what He’s like. Think of all the peo­ple who came to Jesus desir­ing help. They did­n’t come as saved, born-again, fun­da­men­tal, inde­pen­dent Bap­tists or any­thing like that. They came hop­ing He could help them, and when He did, they went their way for­giv­en and prais­ing Him before men.

I com­mend doc­tors who will stand by their faith and refuse to offer a morn­ing-after pill. But I must encour­age them to offer what­ev­er addi­ton­al help is pos­si­ble, includ­ing refer­ring them to the elders of their church for support–support which should come in forms more tan­gi­ble than being added to a prayer list and invit­ed to church every week for a few months. Could you imag­ine Jesus telling those who came to Him, “Ver­i­ly, ver­i­ly, I could heal your eyes, but I will pray they will get bet­ter. You’re on my list along­side a few thou­sand oth­ers, and be sure to come back here next week to see that we’re still pray­ing for you.” Isn’t that exact­ly what we do so often? We are capa­ble of reliev­ing so many bur­dens from so many peo­ple, but do we? For the sake of unnec­es­sary lux­u­ries in our own lives, for the sake of ornate trin­kets and fan­cy dec­o­ra­tions in the church build­ing, we let those who need our help & Christ’s love the most slip by undetected.

All the moral­i­ty fought for by the Reli­gious Right means absolute­ly noth­ing if love is not flow­ing forth from them like water at Nia­gara. No mat­ter what laws are enact­ed to legit­imize their posi­tion, no mat­ter what activ­i­ties or actions are abstained from… none of that can be moral­i­ty if it is cou­pled with a lack of love. Such is the great­est immoral­i­ty we could ever com­mit against our fel­low man.

Does any­body hear her?
Can any­body see?
Or does any­body even know she’s going down today
Under the shad­ow of our steeple
With all the lost and lone­ly people
Search­ing for the hope that’s tucked away in your and me
Does any­body hear her?
Can any­body see?

“Does Any­body Hear Her?” — Cast­ing Crowns


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4 responses to “The Rape Dilemma”

  1. Colin Avatar
    Colin

    I whol­heart­ed­ly agree, and I’d like to add that when deal­ing with abor­tion in a case of rape the choice of abor­tion is pun­ish­ing the most inno­cent par­ty of the three.

    Maybe we ought to stop killing babies and start killing rapists?

    My most hum­ble and unbi­ased opin­ion. (and I may have opened a can of worms…but oh well)

  2. Kaethe Avatar

    If you con­ceive, God has giv­en you a gift, and you owe Him thanks for your child; if you do not con­ceive, it is because God has cho­sen not to give you the gift of a child. It can be estab­lished quite well that in God’s esti­ma­tion human life begins with­in the womb and not dur­ing delivery.

    Since emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion pre­vents con­cep­tion by ensur­ing that an egg is not released, then it should­n’t cre­ate a prob­lem for you. After all, if God is cabaple of giv­ing babies to vir­gins, I’m guess­ing a lit­tle Plan B isn’t much of a prob­lem. Clear­ly, med­i­cine is more impor­tant than moral­i­ty, if you don’t under­stand how the med­i­cine in ques­tion works.

    If the rapist has also left the vic­tim with open wounds (sus­cep­ti­ble to infec­tion) would you con­sid­er those bac­te­ria to be a gift from God? Should the vic­tim be denied prophelac­tic antibi­otics as well?

    I dis­like the idea of view­ing an unborn child as a “burden.â€?

    And yet, if it is your desire to force rape vic­tims to con­ceive against their will, you have not only cre­at­ed a bur­den, you are sub­ject­ing the vic­tim to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mor­tal­i­ty and mor­bid­i­ty. Preg­nan­cy and birth can be quite dan­ger­ous, and the younger the rape vic­tim, the greater the danger.

    Col­in, I’d love to know how a fetus con­ceived from rape is more inno­cent than the rape vic­tim. And since the start­ing point was emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion which does not cause an abor­tion. Clear­ly there is only one guilty par­ty in a rape, that would be the rapist. Pre­vent­ing con­cep­tion is by no means a pun­ish­ment, so the state­ment does­n’t make much sense.

  3. Rick Beckman Avatar

    Kaethe: I was under the impres­sion that the morn­ing-after pill did cause an abor­tion. But if what you said about it sim­ply pre­vent­ing the release of an egg is true, that changes much of what I said!

    Looks like I shot my mouth off before learn­ing enough about the sit­u­a­tion. Will look into this more tonight after work. Thanks for the comment!

    (And no, I would not con­sid­er the bac­te­ria to be a gift from God. I can show from the Bible where preg­nan­cy is a gift; bac­te­ria are nev­er said to be, so why would I claim that?

    Tri­als of faith, how­ev­er, if the event occurred to a Chris­t­ian. Well, that’s anoth­er sto­ry alto­geth­er. The Book of James has quite a lot of advice for Chris­tians in seem­ing­ly bad-situations.)

  4. Bill Uhrich Avatar
    Bill Uhrich

    Rick,

    Thank you for your com­ments gen­er­at­ed by my blog.

    I very awk­ward­ly expressed myself about whether the Men­non­ite doc­tor should also refuse to pay his taxes.

    I should amend the blog to go into the prob­lem I have with the “ren­der unto Cae­sar” pas­sage when it applies to a democ­ra­cy and not an oligarchy.

    In a democ­ra­cy, we the peo­ple alleged­ly are the gov­ern­ment. We do have a moral stake in the fact that we pay our tax­es and there­by each of us owns what our gov­ern­ment does in our name. Hen­ry Thore­au under­stood that. If you have any links or thoughts on the moral under­pin­nings of ren­der­ing unto the emper­or in a democ­ra­cy, I’d like to read them.

    But I should­n’t real­ly chas­tise the doc­tor if he pays his tax­es because I don’t have the moral courage to with­hold my own tax­es, either.

    All I can do is vote.

    Thanks again. Your com­ments took me in some new directions.
    Bill Uhrich

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Rick Beckman