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

4 thoughts on “The Rape Dilemma”

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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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