(Editor’s note: Rape is a serious issue. I am ignoring the political issues of this news item to make a more theoretical argument, which, I hope, will show that the weight of ending sexual assault in this world rests solely on the shoulders of mortals, 90 percent of whom are men.)
Gigantic because it has made national news.
A microcosm because it brings to the forefront some of the most widely accepted and hotly debated theories of our existence in the finite vehicle of our national dialogue while those theories are embarrassingly exploited by our flippant 24-hour cable news channels as pundits talk for hours about how it will impact the one election that matters because the hell with Congress, everyone knows there’s nothing more important than Romney/Obama.
I’m referring, of course, to Richard Mourdock’s comments concerning rape, although if I had written this a week ago, you could rightly assume I was referring to any of 30 dozen other mini flare-ups of political discord leading up to Nov. 6 like so many acne breakouts before the big dance.
I’m not interested in how the shocker story of this news cycle may affect the Indiana Senate race or Mitt Romney’s chances of winning Ohio (Romney has endorsed and produced an ad with Mourdock) because the issue I see emerging from this discussion is way bigger than either of those states or even the country.
I look at the comments and subsequent fallout and see yet another example of Christianity violating one of its own teachings as a kingdom divides against itself. (Matthew 12:25 here with 18 translations, which kinda makes my point, as well. Mark and Luke have their own versions, too.)
For me, the denominations that contradict each other beneath the Christian rooftop have emerged as reason enough to turn me off from its beliefs. In my Southern Baptist upbringing, I was told that Mormonism was a cult (Even though my dad is a member of LDS), that you are baptized by immersion (Even though the Methodists down the road sprinkle) and that all of those references to wine in the bible, including the glasses Jesus passed out when he was hanging out with his disciples for the last time wasn’t wine at all, but instead “really, really good grape juice.” Luckily for me, the church I attended also believes that once you’re “saved” you’re always “saved,” which really saves me a lot in tithes and guilt, but I digress.
When we delve into the existential theories that purportedly examine our world, Farrell has always presented (Quite in the fashion of Plato, I might add) the concept Mourdock so effortlessly brought into the national spotlight as follows:
1. Bad things happen. (Anyone dissent to that? Didn’t think so.) Granted.
2. Now, either for hypothetical purposes or because you actually believe it, assume we have a god. (Call him or her whatever you want.) Granted.
3. What this means is that this god either allows bad things to happen or is not all powerful. (Bummer, right?)
But I’m not the one that brought this up. It was Mourdock. And Barack Obama. And Romney. And everyone else in this country that issued a statement condemning Mourdock’s words.
They’ve backpedaled from his claim that God is involved in these pregnancies and that, subsequently, he was involved in the rape (the bad thing) that brought them about, in effect, admitting that god is not all powerful. That his will isn’t always done. That some bad things happen that god doesn’t want to happen.
Joe Donnelly, himself an anti-abortion advocate, seized on the opportunity to differentiate himself from Mourdock in the close race, arranging to issue a statement in front of a domestic violence shelter.
“The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in,” he said, “does not intend for rape to happen–ever.”
Political pandering at its finest, yes, but what does this mean to advance our theological question?
God doesn’t want rape to happen, but sexual assault happens more than 200,000 times annually. Those are bad things god doesn’t want to happen that happen anyway.
Do all the dominoes fall? If that explains why rapes happen, does it also explain the deaths of children due to cancer? The hurricanes? Those born with birth defects?
It almost leaves you to feel sorry for Mourdock, who continued to stand by the same flawed religious theology he has always clung to, even as seemingly all of Christendom decided this was the time to step away and point menacingly:
“If in any way people came away with the wrong meaning, I apologize,” Mourdock told a news conference in Indianapolis. He added, “For speaking from my heart, for speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I cannot apologize.”
As soon as the check came, Mourdock was alone at the “god is all powerful” dinner table, while everyone who had ever sat with him was already pulling into the garage at home, completely unaware that by neglecting to pay their share alongside him, they were bringing into question whether there was ever a table to begin with.
Bad news for the faith community, though. Even Mourdock didn’t pay in full. He explained after the debate that, while he doesn’t believe god intends for rapes to happen, only god can create life, again reinforcing both sides of his contradiction without so much as acknowledging their inherent conflict with each other.
“Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don’t think that,” said Mourdock. “Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted.”
I could have said it better myself, but that’s good enough.