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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Cry for Justice and Joy: Does Rape Legitimize Abortion?

At a time when sexual crime is on the increase—or is at least receiving increasing attention via the media—the human heart cries for justice in the face of sexual misconduct. But the heart also cries for joy in life when the victimizer leaves the victim in sorrow.


Interestingly, I am writing this article in response to a comment that was made to a Facebook post of mine. I posted on the incongruity in crying for justice when pregnant women in countries other than the USA are slashed by merciless men with their baby in the womb. But then people celebrate when mothers here in the USA choose to “slash” — albeit by more sophisticated means — their own babies in the womb. Ironically, a lady from India of a different religious and philosophical persuasion than mine responded. Her name is Archanaa Ramesh. She happens to be a friend who was a classmate in primary school in India. I am citing her comments here with her permission. I commend and thank her for her bold and honest questioning in seeking the truth. Here is Archanaa’s comment:


“Dear Kenny Damara, how come critics of pregnant-mothers-slashing-their-own-babies such as yourself hardly see the issue in its many different and severely complex forms, such as the position of the victim in this article, for instance? Is this not a bit too convenient of you?”

In responding to my post, Archanaa also shared an article from a website called “The Logical Indian,”[1] in which the writer, Richa Verma, comments on the decision to abort in the case of rape. Verma argues that in this particular rape case, the best thing the Supreme Court in India could do was give permission to the under-aged victim, and her father, for her to abort, thus over-ruling the decision of lower courts to keep the child in the womb alive. In her article Verma says, “We hail the verdict of Supreme Court which allowed a 16-year-old rape survivor from Himmarnagar, Gujarat to have an abortion done if it was essential to save her life.”

This is a highly sensitive issue as it involves the lives of two children. One child is the mother, who had her innocence stolen; the other child was the baby in the womb, who as a result of the shameful act was given life only to have it stolen. I want to be careful in what I say, knowing that pain, anger, and brokenness are to be dealt with. Before I offer a word of comfort and then suggest an alternate course, which I believe is the right course of action, I would first like to set the context and respond to my friend Archanaa’s comment, and then to the case reported on by Richa Verma. In this next section I am speaking of abortion in general, not the case brought to light by Verma.

The Severe Complexity and Painful Inconvenience of the Pro-Life Stance

To think of someone who is for the preservation of a life in the womb as a “critic” of those who are for abortion, is to presume upon many things. For, in my estimation, there are two kinds of critics in the world. The first kind comes down with harsh and heavy handed judgment upon a certain situation, without compassion for the person or persons to whom his criticism is being directed. It is not a Christ follower’s calling to be such a critic—one who is sadistic or cruel in criticism. The second kind of critic is one who treats a situation and the person(s) in it with an eye that looks to genuinely improve the person, because the critic has a heart that has been stirred by love for the other person and what that person lacks in life. This kind of critic breaks a situation down to build a person up, not merely to prove a point or win a debate. Think about that.

It is in the latter sense that the Lord Jesus Himself was a critic. For instance, Jesus looked upon a certain rich, young ruler with eyes that wanted to improve him. The Bible says, having looked on the man with love Jesus told him what he lacked in life, namely that he was in bondage to his riches. Then Christ told him what he needed to do in order to gain eternal life—part with his riches that enslaved him, and follow Christ. The Lord Jesus loved this man and therefore highlighted his problem in order to give him eternal life. In our stance on abortion we are critics of this compassionate sort, and we are honored to be like Christ in this respect.

The second thing presumed upon is that we “critics” (now I use the term with freedom having defined what kind of critics we are) who love the preservation of life at all costs, “hardly see the issue in its many different and severely complex forms.” To that I respond: the reason why we are critics of abortion is because in fact, we do see this issue in all its “severely complex forms.” It is because we see the issue from the spiritual (that is, Biblically Christian), biological, emotional, psychological, legal, and financial standpoints, that we speak out against abortion. Sometimes the knowledge of a certain thing brings with it sorrow and horror. So it is with abortion. People would have as much horror as we do if they simply called a spade a spade—that is if they called the “termination of pregnancy”[2] murder. That’s when the knowledge of a wrong thing brings horror—when wrong is called wrong.

But it’s not always about the knowledge of things, is it? Conversely, as it is sometimes said, “Ignorance is bliss.” And in certain cases, yes, the less we know the better off we are. Godly wisdom is needed. However, in this context of practicing abortion, we who are pro-life do not choose the “ignorance” that “leads to bliss,” but knowledge that leads to sorrow. Sorrowing over certain unchangeable facts then causes us to seek the truth from God on the issue. When and if that truth is heeded, it works to replace the sorrow and leads people to joy.

The best analogy (weak as it may be) I can think of to explain this progression is when a doctor (for example, an oncologist) gains knowledge that a patient, de facto, has cancer. This causes sorrow in the doctor, the patient, and others related. The sorrow of the diagnosis for all concerned however, does not keep the doctor from seeking the truth about a remedy. He does all he can to procure the truth about a remedy that will lead to joy. His goal is to save the life of the patient with cancer. If the patient accepts the doctor’s treatment, there is the possibility of joy. But he or she could decide to skirt around the issue and say things like, “Ignorance is bliss; and the treatment you prescribe may be convenient for you, but it is inconvenient for me. If I lose my hair through chemotherapy, my self-image will suffer and I shall become psychologically scarred for life.” Such a reply ignores the fact that because of the cancer the patient is already impacted emotionally and psychologically. Why not accept psychological and emotional scars that will eventually heal, instead of dying while trying to prevent them? You see, joy is available, but it comes at the price of accepting truth, the ways of which always point to life.

At this point, to those detractors of the pro-life stance I say: the knowledge we have of the complexity of abortion causes us such severe sorrow that we cannot help speak out about it, being compassionately critical of those who have not been critical enough to the point of sorrow, tears, and fasting. Our compassion however, reaches out not only to mothers who chose to abort and to people who support abortion, but more so, our hearts are stirred for the unborn infants who are murdered under the various and complex circumstances. To borrow a thought from Ravi Zacharias—who, by the way, partly hails from Chennai: Oh to think that in these aborted babies we are killing off the future builders of our nations and our families who may have rescued us from myriad evils that plague the human race today. . . . If only we would give them a chance to live!

But it isn’t that simple, is it? There is the case reported on by Richa Verma, that begs the question, “How can you be so “compassionate” to the unborn child, and be so insensitive towards the living mother?” Now I touch on this particular case a little more in this next section.

Unforeseen Future Consequences versus Seen Immediate Convenience

In the case reported by Richa Verma, we are compassionate to both the unborn mother and the unborn child, wishing that both the mother and the child would have had joy (I am assuming here that she went through with the abortion). If she has gone through with it, we wish that the young mother could have been spared the horrors that now lie ahead of her in the years to come. She was wronged by being raped, and justice is demanded because she lost her innocence and was impregnated against her will. The man who raped her must be brought to justice. But let me ask: if the child who was living in her womb has now been taken away from her forever, has she now not been doubly wronged? Before you react with immediate anger as an advocate of a women’s/mother’s rights, let me explain what I mean.

Could not doing right by saving the child alive, have stopped the perpetuation of evil—that dread cycle of evil—and even brought justice to the perpetrator? I would like to introduce two factors into the discussion here:


i. The future: of the mother, the child, and the rapist
&
ii. The conscience(s): of the mother, the rapist, and future rapists

The Future: We have to think of future consequences that are often overlooked in sensitive cases like this, where the tyranny of immediate and individual convenience overrules long term, collective justice in decision making. There are certain consequences in deciding to abort a child on the premise that the mother’s physical life and psychological welfare are at risk. First of all, we cannot guarantee that the mother would have died should she have delivered the child. Richa Verma is right in reporting,

“The panel found that … she is mentally and physically devastated … too weak to deliver a child. The said pregnancy could expose her to serious threat of life.

A woman might face neo-natal (post child birth) depression in case of an unwanted child born out of rape.”[3]

When you use phrases like “could expose” and “might face” you are talking in terms of probability, not certainty, which is exactly what the judgment is based on. No one knows for sure whether the mother in such cases will die. So I ask, is it right to certainly end an innocent infant’s life on the probable basis of the mother’s life ending, or possibly being difficult after delivery? We are making death certain for one based on the probability of death for another. Where is the justice in this, for the baby who had no say in his or her conception?

On the other hand, I ask: with intervention from medical doctors and psychologists, and spiritual support and love from compassionate “critics,” could not the girl have been strengthened to deliver the child? There are examples that prove, with the right intervention from doctors and spiritual counsellors, even sixteen-year-old mothers come out far happier and stronger in the long run, having borne their babies instead of aborting them. I cannot emphasize enough the difference that loving support makes for rape victims. In some sense legalizing abortion in the case of rape is a society’s way of saying that they do not want to love and care for a victim of rape. I do not have the permission to mention any names here, but you can find those examples of teenage mothers who came out victorious in unplanned pregnancies because of the intervention of pro-life organizations such as Caris (www.caris.org). Please visit the Caris website to hear testimonies that prove, even in the case of unplanned pregnancies, a mother does not have to bow to defeat and sacrifice the child in her womb on the altar of injustice.

So I encourage you to think of the future of the child that could have been. How come the helpless teenage mother and her father get a hearing from the Supreme Court of a land, and the truly helpless infant gets no hearing? Who shall the unborn child have appealed to for justice? Make no mistake, all infants whose lives have been taken away before they saw the light outside the womb shall have their justice from the courts of Heaven soon enough, when the Judge of all the earth pleads their cases Himself.

But also think about who the child could have been to the girl and to her father. Yes, it is a shameful thing to deliver a child conceived through rape. But who knows how this child, if raised rightly (even through adoption), would have been a source of joy to the mother and grandfather when he or she grew to be an adult.

Lastly, in thinking of peoples’ futures, think about the future of the perpetrator. Why was this respectable medical doctor who raped the helpless daughter of a laborer, allowed to go scot-free (or so it seems)? Should not he have been made to live through the consequences of what he did? When in a moment of lust he took the young girl’s innocence, he was not thinking of the child he would father. And now, what’s worse, he never has to think of that child. How convenient indeed for this doctor, that he does not have to deal directly with the fruit of his shameful act! If justice be served, he ought to have been made by the Supreme Court to see the face of the child he fathered, and to take care of the child and the mother for the rest of his life. Who knows how many more helpless victims this doctor could rape to satisfy his lusts, only to get away with it?

Consciences: Now I move the discussion closer home, from external consequences to the internal conscience. After all is said and done and the dust has settled legally, financially, and temporary emotional highs have ebbed, how does the woman deal with her conscience in the long run? For make no mistake, her conscience will weigh her down on two counts. One, she was raped. Two, the infant in her womb was not allowed to live. Who will assuage her conscience when guilt and regret strikes her in the future? Did the Supreme Court take this into account? Who will provide healing to her heart? In saying that it was “humanly right to allow the minor girl to go for termination of pregnancy,”[4] the judges forget that human beings have wounded consciences that cannot be healed by human law, but only by God's love.

Before advocating for abortion, have you ever asked victims of incest or rape how they felt about abortion? Most of them would not “hail” the decision to abort. Why not read what a few women have to say about it here: http://www.cwfa.org/rape-incest-and-abortion-women-victims-want-their-voices-heard/ ?

Then there are the consciences of future rapists. If the highest court in the land has ruled that abortion is the verdict in one rape case, what message is this sending to others who will commit rape? I mean after all, they will already have a hardened conscience that helps them commit the shameful act. And now, since the Supreme Court has rendered this ruling in one case, who is to say it will not be the same easy way out for future perpetrators?

Life in Abundance: When Justice Meets Joy

Rape may succeed in legalizing abortion, but it cannot legitimize it. What is legal in law is shaped according to shifting philosophies, according to the Zeitgeist of the times. What is legitimate in law by contrast, is shaped by a transcendent and immutable design that has been written since the beginning of creation. And since the beginning of creation, the prerogative to give life and take life has rested with the Creator. The Bible says, when God made human beings, He made us in His own image. Every human life that begins in the womb when sperm and egg cells meet, is a life made in the image of the Almighty. When a life made in the image of God is taken into the hands of autonomous humans who want nothing to do with God, it robs people of joy, and justice must be served for joy to be restored.

Now let me tell you of the greatest injustice in the world, which though it was an injustice, proved to the world that justice and joy can and do meet.

The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was legal, but it was not legitimate. The Roman government gave the riotous Jewish leaders what they wanted, and made it legal for the Christ to be put to death. Here was the sinless and perfect Son of God and Son of Man being put to death, in the plan of God. Why did He die? He died to redeem those of us who are on the pathway to ultimately aborting our eternal lives, because by birth we are not the children of God. And there is nothing we can do to earn legitimacy as the children of God. Justice demands that those who are an affront to God—who have opposed His plans and dealt unjustly with Him—be forever separated from God and face His judgment and wrath. All human beings, by virtue of doing even the least thing that displeases God, are an affront to a holy God. Were justice served, all of us would be aborted from the eternal life of God and relegated to an eternity in hell.

But thank God that the Lord Jesus stepped into time and space in the flesh, and intervened on the cross. The Bible says, for the joy that was to come on the other side of the cross, Jesus endured the ignominy and injustice being dealt Him. As Jesus experienced the cross, He saw two things (among many others) that spurred Him on to endure: one, He knew that He would rise from the dead in a few days; two, He saw the great injustice of all sinful deeds, including rape and abortion, needing to be righted. He knew that those who commit such crimes could never do anything good enough to justify these wrongs. He saw us as sinfully unjust, yet crying for justice. Through this sacrificial act He was applying His perfectly just nature to people who are perfectly unjust and guilty of death. He, the just, was dying for the unjust, to justify us. Only a perfectly just man can do that. You ask me, “Why is it so that only a perfectly just man can die to justify the unjust?” It is so because only a perfectly just man—the Man Jesus Christ—is capable of forgiving the unjust.

It is forgiveness that takes people who commit despicable and heinous acts, erases those acts from the divine record of justice, gives us a clean sheet, just as if we had never sinned, and then presents us, who committed sin as justified before God. When unjust people are given undeserved justice through the forgiveness of sins, joy is restored. It is only because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that justice and joy meet in this world through His forgiveness.

It is only in the Christian faith—because of the forgiveness of Christ—that both the rapist doctor and the teenage girl he raped can stand justified before God. Not only the two of them, but her father who pushed for the abortion, the judges who legalized the abortion, and the abortionist who finally committed the act: all of them can stand forgiven and have perfect justice and joy should they come to Christ. Lastly, I plead on behalf of unborn infants: give them the privilege to live. For it is only in and through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that the illegitimate child born of rape or incest can live as a legitimate child of God, having God as His Father. Whether you are a victim or victimizer, there is always life to be found beyond the crime, in Jesus Christ— the one who gives justice and joy, through forgiveness.

© Kenny Damara, 2015. You may share the URL to this blog/article. For anything besides that, such as quoting or reproducing any part, please obtain express written permission from the author.

[1] http://thelogicalindian.com/news/right-to-life-of-mother-vs-right-to-life-of-unborn-child/
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

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