11 November 2012

An alternative to 'I told you so'...

"Love imagines a sorrowful yet peaceful alternative to 'I told you so', before it happens." - John Piper

Little Mark and Mr. Mark

Our good friend from Australia, Mr. Mark got to meet our little Mark when he was visiting Cambodia.

The passing of former Cambodian King Sihanouk

The former king of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihanouk, passed away this past October 15. There is continued mourning throughout the country for him.  These are some pictures that Seda took at the riverside in Phnom Penh.

09 November 2012

Words to live by...

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt."

- either Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, or Samuel Johnson drawing on the Bible

Rape, God's will, and the campaign trail

A few days ago at work, a few of my colleagues were discussing/mocking a candidate that had made inflammatory comments about the connection between rape, God's will, and abortion. To paraphrase, the candidate in question had said that if a woman gets pregnant after being raped, that outcome is God's will for that woman/child/situation. While I am someone who believes that God does have a hand in every single thing that happens on this planet (it is the only thing that gives me sanity at times), it is so hard to look at such an evil act as rape, and feel that anything associated with it could be God's will.

I did not say anything in the conversation at work because, to be honest, I wasn't sure what to say. I realize how ridiculous the statements that the candidate made sound, and I didn't feel like opening my mouth only to be grouped in with someone that I do not know. Nevertheless, the question has bothered me lately. As one of the few people that I know that believes in the absolute providence of Jesus over the world, I realize that I not only have a responsibility to living out the ramifications of that truth, but also to presenting it to others with compassion... which this candidate (whatever his beliefs) did not. The Scriptures do categorize many terrible evil acts as the effects of God's will... Christ's death on the cross for our salvation foremost among them. Does that make Christ's torture and death morally right? Since I am not God (*sigh of relief*), I can not look at it or understand all of it outside what He has made known to us in the Scriptures. But if I was there at Golgotha looking at the blood and flayed flesh, I would have screamed, cried, wailed and seen moral evil as never before.

But as I read the Scriptures now (with the distance of 2000 years) it is easier for me to try to see moral evil from the perspective of 'God's will'. We know from a moral perspective that God does not want a woman to be raped any more than I or my work colleagues do. But does that help the pregnant woman that was raped? In most cases, probably not. What would help her?

Before I finish, I just want to say that there may not be a good way to deal with the situation that the candidate for office created for themselves. They created an unwin-able argument for themselves in this discussion. Trying to differentiate on the campaign trail between what God deems morally right and what He permits in this world is the equivalent of political suicide. I have begun to think that there is no real way to solve the problem that they created for themselves, so I will not try to come to their defense. But what I will say is that maybe everyone (myself, my colleagues at work, this candidate, all those inflamed by the comments) are trying to look at it from an angle that we can not see around... namely God's perspective... and the way that I should I be looking at it comes from a hopefully less inflammatory direction.

While it is easy to decry the evil of the rape (which I wholeheartedly condemn), it is so much harder to see that God might have something very good in mind for this child. I am not trying to minimize the real pain that the woman is going to have, the real anger, the real resentment and the real damage that has been done to her physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, because all of that is real moral evil. But, I am trying to say that all of that does not make the child evil. I do not think that it should automatically determine that the child has no right to live. Honestly, the rapist may not have a right to live, and in some countries might justly have his genitals removed, but I don't think that should carry over to the child. Is it a terrible way to come into the world? Definitely.  Does the child automatically deserve death for a crime that it did not commit? I can't go there. Jesus has redeemed more lives in the history of the world than anyone else. Does the rape determine that He could not redeem something for this woman and child? I can not answer that question, but I know which direction I lean.

So what does this woman need? She needs me to show her love in every situation. If she keeps the child, she needs me to come alongside her and help her love and care for her child. If she aborts the child, she needs me to come alongside her and love her and comfort her as she deals with real emotional and psychological scars. She needs me to stand in the gap with her when she can not function because the anger has welled up so deeply inside her that the only think that she can think of is murder. She needs me to come alongside her when she is so depressed that she can not get out of bed and can not do anything for herself. She doesn't need my words or determination of what is or is not God's will. She needs to be loved, and that is where I (and candidate for elected office of every stripe) need to be. In being loved, she will see what God's will for her is.