Recently, Representative Todd Aiken (R -- Missouri) caused a furor when he stated that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. Soon, he was on his heels, backtracking and trying to save his race for a senate seat. Sharon Barnes, a member of the Missouri Republican committee tried to explain his comment. Ms. Barnes "echoed Mr. Akin’s statement that very few rapes resulted in pregnancy, adding that 'at that point, if God has chosen to bless this person with a life, you don’t kill it.'” (1)
While most of the attention in the media is on Mr. Aiken's notion of "legitimate rape", and on the attitudes of the Republicans towards women, I found just as interesting Ms. Barnes comment that God would "bless this person", a victim of rape, "with a life."
Growing up Catholic, I learned that God knew me before I was born. Much of Catholicism's stance on birth control and abortion centers around the idea that God is just as involved in conception as the mother and father. Non-Catholic Christians tend to think in the same way. Sex between a fertile couple isn't enough to conceive a child, it somehow requires God's consent.
So, what does it mean if God 'chooses to bless' a victim of rape 'with a life?' Doesn't this make God an accomplice to the crime? In fact, isn't God at that point the perpetrator? It's not as if God saw a rape occuring and decided it would be splendid if these two people had a child together. God created the universe and knew every one of us before we were born. Since we are all unique and are physically a product of our genes, it also means that God knew the only way for the child of rape to come about is for the rapist's and the victim's genes to co-mingle through this action. God literally created the rapist, a criminal, so that he would rape a particular woman and get her pregnant.
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin."
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. (2)
When God created Jesus he didn't need a rapist. He, in the guise of the Holy Spirit, did the deed, and Mary consented to the act. An argument could be made that since God is a very old authority figure and Mary at the time was only fifteen, it would minimally be statutory rape, even if she was willing.
His defense counsel might counter that Mary wasn't a victim since God created her specifically to give birth to Jesus. She was part of His divine plan when He created the universe. If this is true, she had as much ability to consent as a blow-up-doll. She was just as much a victim as a blow-up-doll.
But, this isn't about Mary. It's about real women suffering real crimes of sexual assault. So, if God wants a particular child to be born, couldn't He resort to the same method and save mother the trauma of rape? Couldn't He just make her pregnant? The fact that He doesn't, that He actually has the woman raped in order to father the child means that God is ultimately responsible for the crime.
Is this who you worship?
2. Luke 1; 34-38