I know. It’s a terribly tasteless title. But I’ve laughed all week at a comment posted at the LATimes on one of the first articles about Todd Akin. The commenter wrote, “‘Rape Babies are a gift from God. —I’m Todd Akin, and I approved this message.” But the message is so much more deep than “rape babies are a gift from God.” It’s painful, victim-blaming, and especially theologically flawed.
Survivors always have to make difficult decisions after the sexual assault. Those decisions can range from calling the police, going to the emergency room, and then reliving, and telling and retelling what happened, to helping professionals, friends, family, and partners. Deciding whether to bear a child out of the violence would, for many women, be another difficult decision on top of so many difficult decisions. There are other decisions that become impossible, too. How to go about your day-to-day responsibilities, who to trust, how to gain back intimacy in your relationships, how to heal, how to protect yourself from it happening again. All while dealing with a new normal of constant panic, PTSD, and fear.
And it’s not as if you can sit down and say, “These are the decisions I need to make.” They come at you from every area. You’re surprised at every moment how difficult every day decisions are, and sometimes you even decide not to decide.
Hell, even thinking that you can make a decision after a rape is a win.
There are individuals who are born out of rape (has anyone seen statistics for the US?). When abortion wasn’t an option, there was adoption, and even some women who chose to raise the children. Certainly women have had a hard time loving children born out of an act of violence, as Eve Ensler, writing from the Democratic Republic on Congo says, “Imagine you have no idea what that life will even consist of, spiritually made in hate, not knowing the mental or health background of the rapist.”
Here’s the deal. Some women can have the child. Some women can bear the child and give him/her up for adoption. Some women can’t bear the child. But guess who gets to choose? The woman. Not the rapist. Not the media. And certainly not the politicians.
Speaking of children of rape as if they are a gift from God says this, “See? Good things come out of rape.”
NO GOOD THINGS COME OUT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR RAPE.
Perhaps they come in spite of it. For some sexual assault survivors, perhaps that good thing is a child they love. For others, it may be healing. Still for others, it may be in work to prevent sexual assaults and to help others heal from rape.
Yes, good things can come in spite of violence. But it takes years and years to see those things. It takes tons of healing work. It takes distance. And time. And understanding.
It’s like the death of Jesus. There was no good thing about the violence he faced on the cross. There’s no inherent value to his death (much to the chagrin of many a church leader). Celebrating Christ’s death on the cross is tantamount to requiring a domestic violence survivor to renew her vows to her abuser.
Instead, we can see that some good things happened in spite of Christ’s death on the cross. The resurrection happened in spite of Jesus’ death. The church formed in spite of the horror and the violence. Love wins, in spite of the hate. God works in spite of bad events, not through them. That’s called redemption.