Rape, Abortion, and Women’s Bodies

Dear Reader,

This is a tough one, as you may be able to guess from the title. I am stepping out on shaky ground and I hope you will take this post, as all my posts, as a starting point for your own thought and go from there. This is really a follow-up to my previous post Getting Your Body Back in which I said that our bodies belong to our Creator and we should be good stewards of them.

As you may have guessed reading between the lines of that post, I am against abortion. Though frankly, the public debate of it has always puzzled me somewhat. Not that it is debated, but how. How long now has this been going on? Roe v. Wade was in 1973. I was a toddler then. And yet we seem to be having the same arguments. Maybe more people are on one side or another, but overall there seems to be little progress. There are no new arguments, no increase in understanding on either side. I always feel like the two sides are not really communicating with each other. They say the same things over and over, but there is no real understanding. I suppose this is what happens when each side is trying to convince the other and neither really cares to listen and learn.

The issue I want to focus on has to do with women’s, or really anyone’s bodies. The argument is made from the pro-choice side that women have a right to choose what happens to their bodies. Pregnancy is a big deal. I have had 4 of them. It is not just 9 months and then you can get on with your life. Even if you give the baby up for adoption, your body is changed forever. Trust me, this is a frequent topic at new moms’ groups. Things just don’t go back where they once were. So shouldn’t a woman have the right to control this for her own body? Before I get to what I actually want to say, let me add as a side note that I don’t understand why most pro-lifers don’t just say “yes. Yes, you do have the right to control what affects your body, BUT not when it means the killing of someone else.” Isn’t this really what they think? That there are at least two “rights” at stake? And pro-lifers are merely saying that the baby’s right to live supercedes the mom’s right to control her body? But I never actually hear anyone say that, because the two sides never seem to respond to each other’s arguments. This is what I mean about the lack of true communication on both sides. I assume that the pro-choice side would then respond, “If it were murder, that would be true. But a fetus is not a fully human life (or however they might phrase it) and therefore the woman’s right to control her body is still the most basic, fundamental right at stake and wins the argument.” But I digress.

My real issue with the pro-choice argument is that there is a fundamental assumption there that I don’t agree with. The fundamental assumption is that the body belongs to the woman and therefore she gets to control it. As I said in that earlier post, our bodies are not ours. They belong to God. They are on loan to us. And I think we should be happy we will not always be stuck with them. When we make decisions regarding them, we must ask not what we will but what He wills for them. I believe God wants us, men and women, to take good care of them as we would of any of His gifts. I believe He wants us to use them for His glory. Now if a woman becomes pregnant, even if it is not her choice at this time, the fetus, whether we consider it human at that point or not (and I would), has still been put there by God. He is shaping it day by day inside her. He may choose to take it back. Sadly, He often does. But she may not choose to end that pregnancy. I will add as another side note that for myself I don’t think I could end a pregnancy even if my life were in danger because of it (though it is the sort of situation where it is hard to say what you would do till you are actually in it). I am not sure I would legislate against abortion in all such cases though. It is a very tough situation and not everything needs to be enshrined in law.

Changing direction slightly, I often seem to hear a strong undercurrent on the pro-choice side that says, “Men should not tell women how to use or what to do to their bodies.” There seems to be a lot of anger here. And I wonder if in all those undercurrents there are whispers of that other area in which men try to force their will on women’s bodies, namely rape. You may be asking yourself, if a woman’s body is not her own as I maintain, how does this affect our view of rape? And I would argue that rather than making it a lesser crime, it makes it a much greater one. When a man rapes a woman, he is not just violating her. He is violating something of God’s. Because her body is not her own, but belongs to her Creator. It has always seemed funny that the biblical king David after taking Uriah’s wife and getting Uriah killed confesses his sin in Psalm 51  by saying “against You (God) alone have I sinned.” How is this against God alone? Surely Uriah and Bathsheba have been sinned against and others as well?! Yet with this understanding of our bodies as belonging to God, I wonder if this confession makes more sense. Because even in the sin of taking Bathsheba (Was it against her will? We are not told so but clearly he is a man in authority and I would be surprised if she had much opportunity to say no), it is primarily God David is sinning against. And I think Bathsheba and the rest of us should rejoice in this fact. There is only so much that I can do to exact vengeance. But the wrath of God is a fearful thing. If you have been wronged in this way, remember that in this matter at least, the God of all creation, who can send men’s souls to everlasting torment, is on your side.



2 responses to this post.

  1. […] The second assumption I am making is that we are progressing – that is that we are moving forward as judged by God’s eternal standard of right and wrong. This is again by no means obvious or widely accepted. Among conservative Christians I dare say the opposite belief abounds — that we are getting worse and worse and falling more and more into sinful ways. Just look at the issues our society is dealing with — abortion, gay marriage, and the like. But on the other side I could point to an end to the institution of slavery in the western world, acceptance of interracial marriages, the idea that in war one should not kill all the civilians as a matter of course, an acknowledgement and respect for the rights women have over their own bodies. […]


  2. “The fundamental assumption is that the body belongs to the woman and therefore she gets to control it. As I said in that earlier post, our bodies are not ours. They belong to God. They are on loan to us.” Excellent point!


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