Reading various tweets and commentary this evening many have noted that opposition to abortion even in the case of rape is hardly uncommon among Republicans. It’s also true — at least I think it is — that if you accept the argument that an early term fetus is fully equal to a human life that it’s hard to argue that abortion is any more permissible in the case of rape than from consensual sex. A child after all isn’t responsible for the circumstances of its conception.
Finally, it’s true that for a believer everything that happens is the ordained by God. This is part and parcel of monotheism and God’s omnipotence. And so from this perspective slavery, child murder, Holocausts and all sorts of other things are the ‘will of God’.
Theologians have tried to wrestle their way out of this awkward logic for millennia without luck.
But in our own lives, living in the crucible of time and history as we do, we don’t say, Well, that Holocaust was rough but it was the will of God so let’s not second guess it. Nor with child-murder or anything else. Does God will these things? Or in the world we live in are they part of inexplicable evil?
It makes no sense to me to equate this ‘will of God’ talk to the much more reasonable argument that even rape can’t justify abortion if you think it’s taking a life. Tossing around God’s will in this way really is just a way to throw up your hands and say, Hey, not my problem.
Late Update: A number of readers have written in to say my reasoning above is simplistic and this certainly isn’t the only view a believer can have. God gives men and women free will and evil comes from their choices.
For instance TPM Reader JP writes in …
No! No! You are absolutely wrong in saying that to a believer, everything that happens is the will of God. I can’t speak for other faiths, but Christians believe that God gave humans free will, which humans frequently use poorly. Humans sin. Sin is pretty much by definition the opposite of God’s will. There may be some people who believe what you said, but it is not orthodox (little o) Christian doctrine. I could go on, but I hope and expect you’re receiving hundreds of emails making the same point, some from people not hindered by an iPad keyboard.
As a theological point, at least for orthodox Christianity, I’m not so sure this is true. Read Calvin or Augustine, depending on your sectarian predilections. You’ll see what I mean. Traditional monotheism is of course not the only worldview on offer. But if you do buy into it, God’s sovereignty is a difficult web to escape from, on many levels.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.