Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said Tuesday when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, "that's something God intended."
Mourdock, who's been locked in one of the country's most watched Senate races, was asked during the final minutes of a debate with Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Donnelly whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
"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 said.
The video and transcript has quickly spread nationally, with potential influence even on the presidential race:Romney distanced himself from Mourdock on Tuesday night — a day after a television ad featuring the former Massachusetts governor supporting the GOP Senate candidate began airing in Indiana.
"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to The Associated Press.
Mourdock later explained that he did not believe God intended the rape, but that God is the only one who can create life."Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don’t think that,’’ Mourdock said. ‘‘Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said.’’
But this is a major problem with using the statement "God creates all life" as the ultimate anti-abortion argument that anything that prevents that life must then be "against God's will". The line of reasoning here is that if the rape victim gets pregnant, it must be because God intentionally decided to create life. It is a terribly flawed concept and leads to incredible guilt and shame for the victim: and an ultimate portrait of God who "does terrible things for a reason".
Human free will seems to be at issue here. Part of what has been given freely to human beings (and other animals, plants, and life as well) is the ability to potentially create in their own image (as we believe God originally did). We know from scientific fact that the relationship status the man has with a woman (life-long partner, casual lover, or violating rapist) or his motivation for sex (to create a child with his partner, expressing passion through consensual physical intimacy, or to dominate, control and abuse a woman) does not factor in to whether conception happens.
Isn't God's role here really relational more than anything? God's relationship with the victim of a rape seems primary. We proclaim a God who comforts, consoles, and even weeps with those who are afflicted. We proclaim a God that promises that life is not over even when we feel like it is, and that there is always a way forward.
That way forward may include choosing to embrace a new life created, but it may also include preventing a child from this act of violence: it is the victim's choice, not anyone else's.
What must be done to transform the conversation of God's role with us: one that explores the ongoing relational one, rather than the shut down argument "God does everything for a reason"?