Rape, God’s sovereignty, and the value of human life

I live in Indiana, and most of the time I think that is a good thing. This election season I am not so sure. The race for our Senate seat has been one of the ugliest I can remember. It has been so bad I am seriously considering not voting for either candidate. Now a statement made in a recent debate between the two candidates has made the national news and reflects on Christian bioethics. When asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Richard Mourdock said during the debate, “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.”

Mourdock has been attacked by those who say that if a Christian is opposed to abortion in cases of rape they are saying that God has intended the rape to happen. Christians are divided over whether abortion is permissible in cases of rape. Balancing the value of an unborn human life and caring for the victim of such horrific wrong who is also of great value is a difficult thing to do. Those who address this need to be much more careful than most political candidates in what they say and how they say it.

It can be reasonable from a Christian perspective to take the position that the value of the life of the innocent fetus whose life was begun as a result of rape is such that the life of the innocent fetus should be preserved no matter what his or her origin was. Those who take that position are not saying that rape is not a horrible evil. Rape is evil and the scripture clearly identifies it as evil. Scripture also emphasizes God’s compassion on those are victims of violence and we should have that same compassion. Expressing how we reconcile God’s love and his sovereignty with the evil in the world is something that theologians have struggled with for centuries. From a Christian perspective it is clear that God is not the author of evil, but he is able to use the evil done by human beings in ways that produce something that is good. Even though he did not say it well, that may be the Christian truth behind what Richard Mourdock was trying to say. Rape is evil and God is not the cause of such evil, but God can take something as evil as rape and from it bring an innocent human life that is good. It is when we see the good of the life that came out of what was an evil act that we can see why we should think that such an innocent life should be protected even though his or her origin was in something evil.

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