Abuse and Pharisaism: The Merciless Handling of the Scriptures
I read the following account in the New York Daily News this morning:
When a woman is impregnated during a rape, “It is something God intended,” Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said Tuesday during a televised debate. Even in cases of rape and incest, the Hoosier State’s treasurer said he believes abortion should be prohibited. “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen,” he said.
Read more: Richard Mourdock: ‘It is something God intended’ when women are impregnated during rape [Internet Archive link]
Ok, let’s be clear. I am against abortion. Or more positively, I hold to the doctrine of man being made in the image of God, and therefore human life being in a category all its own, far different than mere animal or plant life. You shall not murder.
But just because this issue of abortion is such a hot topic and for the most part Christians are opposed to abortion, we still dare not fail to think carefully about Mourdock’s statements here. Think about it. He means that if, for example, a 12 year old girl is raped by a family member and becomes pregnant, the law needs to say that she cannot have that pregnancy terminated. [Cut me some slack. I’m not totally up on the “correct” language to use in connection with this abortion subject. “Pregnancy terminated” is probably objectionable to some people because it doesn’t describe human life plainly enough. They may be correct, but I am a novice here]. Or if a woman is raped by an evil man and becomes pregnant, the law must require that she bear that child.
These things are sticky wickets for sure. But here is my point and this is my main point. Pharisaism handles the Word of God without mercy, as Martin so well pointed out in his comments several posts back. It fails to consider the spirit of the Scripture. Now, let’s take that 12 year old incest victim as an example. What about her life? What about her mental health? You see, it strikes me that people like Mourdock do not get it when it comes to abuse. “Hey, she has the baby and moves on with her life. So what?” That kind of merciless, cold thinking. But if a pregnancy actually threatens the life of a mother, do we not allow for the option of ending the pregnancy? If she is going to die physically because of complications?
Ok, the more I write here, the more I feel like the can of ethical worms is getting more tangled, but I hope you understand what my primary aim is here. I don’t think Mourdock or his kind know anything about God or about mercy. That is why he tells us that we need laws in place that order, in every case, a 12 year old incest victim to not have options and then, most cruelly, he stamps God’s will on his position. It was God’s will that this happened to you. Yes, God ordains whatever comes to pass by what theologians call His decree. But those same theologians also recognize that Scripture teaches us that God hates evil, that He is without sin, and that He hates what happened to that 12-year old girl.
Mourdock’s position is like the permanence view of marriage — boom, boom! No divorce for any reason! Or the Pharisees’ view of the Sabbath. Hard, fast, unbending, and without mercy.
Yes, even in the handling of such a vital issue as abortion and the protection of human life, we can become Pharisees. And that is never good. So let us take care lest the leaven of the Pharisees turn us into merciless beings who further victimize victims.