Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, when asked his view on abortion exceptions during his debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly on Tuesday night:
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.
Donnelly responded by saying it wasn’t possible that “my God, or any God, would intend that to happen.”
Of course, Mourdock was not saying that God intended rape to happen, even though Mr. Mourdock’s theological beliefs clearly include that as dogma — that rape, the death of son or daughter, a horrific accident were predestined from the beginning of time and are the result of a providential God guiding our lives. He was stating the widely held belief that God is in the driver’s seat and anything and everything that happens — the good and the bad — happens as part of God’s plan for us.
For some evangelical Christians, Mourdock’s awkwardness in stating his belief proved a little too much:
What Mourdock said “is offensive,” says Richard Lints, a theologian of the Reformed tradition, which has Calvinist roots, and dean at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. “The clumsiness is [to] so align God with evil that God becomes a horrific figure. It’s contrary to anything you read in scripture, and it removes the human responsibility.”
By broadly hinting that God “condoned” rape by default rather than trying to understand His plan for all of us, sometimes without our glimpsing the whys and wherefores, Mourdock finds himself in a firestorm of controversy. He apologized the next day, saying he “regrets and apologizes” if there are those who took what he said to imply God condoned rape. He can be assured that those who took his statement the wrong way did so deliberately in order to score political points.
Mourdock was referring to the notion that God intended the pregnancy to result from the attack, and therefore, a rape victim getting an abortion would be acting against the will of God. The candidate may have gotten himself tangled up in the idea of an omniscient, providential God controlling events “intending” pregnancy from rape, but the idea that this, in some way, minimizes what rape victims go through is a stretch. Mourdock didn’t say that rape isn’t a heinous crime. He didn’t say that pregnancy from rape is what these women deserve. He didn’t say anything that a conservative Christian preacher wouldn’t tell a rape victim who discovered she was pregnant from the attack.