Legitimate Rape, Illegitimate Rape, and Why This Is Not About Abortion

Welcome to the clash of civilizations—Missouri edition.

Last year I wrote a post saying that UUs needed to know the vocabulary in order to be a part of the Rob Bell/universalist debate. It was assumed that I meant that UUs needed to know the academic vocabulary of Christian theology. I didn’t mean that then and I don’t mean it now. Yet I am going to say it again; if UUs want to get into the whole Todd Akin-legitimate rape-illegitimate rape conversation, you need to know the vocabulary. And that vocabulary is the Bible. Because, dear friends, Todd Akin’s remarks about rape stem from a worldview that is based in a particular interpretation of the Bible.

Todd Akin’s beliefs about legitimate and illegitimate rape and abortion are NOT about rape and abortion. They are about theology; as Todd Akin’s beliefs on these subjects are a direct descendant of Dominionist theology. And lest you think that Todd Akin is alone in this, think again; the re-affirmed plank of the Republican party parrots Todd Akin’s belief (not about rape, at least not publicly)—there should be a constitutional amendment against abortion and that amendment cannot have exceptions. I am not bashing Republicans, I am just pointing that out.

Anyway…in order to counter Dominionist theology, one must have an intimate knowledge of Genesis and Deuteronomy.  Now I know many UU churches showed the Bill Moyers program on Genesis, but when was the last time UU churches touched Deuteronomy?

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is a clash of civilizations. But, unlike Sam Huntington’s thoughts on this, this clash is not West v. the Rest. This clash is Modernity v. Anti-Modernity. For Dominionist theology is anti-modernity, anti-enlightenment, anti-intellectual and anti-science. Therefore you cannot fight Dominionist theology with modernity and her sisters. You must fight theology with theology; in this case fight the Bible with the Bible.

When Todd Akin says that pregnancy does not happen in cases of real/legitimate rape (he’s walked back the words, but work with me), that’s when you bring up to him that David raped Bathsheba and she ended up pregnant (not with Solomon, the pregnancy before that). That is when you bring up to him that Abram [he doesn’t become Abraham until later] raped Hagar and she got pregnant. That is when you bring up that in the conquering of the Promised Land, it was expected that Israelite men would take possession of the women of the conquered land. That is when you bring up that Deuteronomy states that if a man rapes a woman and she becomes pregnant, he must marry her and can never put her aside. Then again, you might not want to mention that, it might give the Dominionists ideas; but Deuteronomy does say it.

This is not about abortion. It’s not about the definition of rape. This is a clash of civilizations. And in order to be heard, you have to use the language that will be heard.


10 thoughts on “Legitimate Rape, Illegitimate Rape, and Why This Is Not About Abortion

  1. “Legitimate” rape??
    If the Republicans win, the rich will abort Medicare and Social Security,
    as they rape this COUNTRY….”legitimately”.
    Lyin’ Ryan and More-mon-ey Romney are the Conservative Caviar Candidates.
    They’re the DREAM team for the super-rich – they want it ALL!
    But they’re the NIGHTMARE team for seniors, the middle-class , women’s rights, students receiving Pell grants, and the rest of us who are struggling …. while the big corporations send jobs and profits overseas, and the super-rich like Romney avoid paying their fair share.
    Romney-Ryan can fool some of the people some of the time.
    But no more – we’re ON to you guys!

    • I specifically said that I was NOT bashing Republicans in my post. If you come on here again and post something bashing the Republican presidential and vice-presidential nominees, it will be deleted.

      But thank you for stopping by.

  2. Wouldn’t he respond that when Abram raped Hagar, it was not a “legitimate” rape because she was his slave/servant? I’m no scholar of this, but I can see that to influence Akin or his followers one would need to use his vocabulary and rules . But I object to his imposing his religious standards on our national political debate. Most people have no idea what he’s talking about, and a Dominionist takeover is exactly what we fear. Now, if God had given women dominion over the earth, the battle would be different!

    • hi Bunny. I think the Abram/Hagar story might get through. I was more worried about the Deuteronomy passages about rape/pregnancy/marriage. Thanks for making me clarify; I’ll try to make it more clear in my edit of this post.

  3. Didn’t Audre Lorde say “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”? One could question if dominionist theology is the appropriate tool here.

    In this particular clash of cultures, I strongly doubt that those pushing dominionist theology are going to listen the concerns of others. The only thing stopping them from being the US version of Taliban theocracy is they aren’t a voting majority and are not in control (yet).

    Maybe we should be promoting the idea that religion (with its grounding in personal experience and not in evidence available to critical examination by others) should stay in the private realm and our political culture should be more secular? After all, our Western European neighbors and Canadian neighbors seem to do OK with both liberal religion and conservative religion staying out of politics.

    After all, our goal here isn’t to convince Rep. Akin. We need to convince the voters that he has no business being near the levers of power in the US. So far, he’s been doing a good job of convincing voters that he cannot be trusted with power.

    • Did you read my last post? If not, I think you should so you can see why I don’t think this is a Master’s tools/Master’s house situation. Just because all of you outside of Missouri might think he’s not to be trusted with power, the polls in Missouri still show him ahead of Claire McCaskill (granted, it’s within the margin of error, but he’s still on top).

      So if you want to use modernity and her sisters to try to convince like-minded Dominionists in MISSOURI that Todd Akin is a wrong choice, go right ahead. Todd Akin and his friends will beat you. The only way to change a Dominionist mind is to use the Bible. Ignore it at your peril.

  4. I disagree with the strategy of using biblical phrases to counter this bigotry. For one thing, many UUs don’t view the bible as being authoritative. Secondly, most bible-spouting people are extremely creative in their interpretations – the notion that you will ‘catch’ them in yet another bald-contradition – is wishful thinking.

    Rather, I think it’s better to call upon your audience to use its common sense. Who in their right mind, thinking clearly, would agree that there are different types of rape? Who would remotely think that women have a natural bad-sperm control mechanism? Who would really agree that a rape victim should be REQUIRED to carry any resulting pregnancy to term? Etc, etc.

    I agree with the fundies that, if you start with a presumption of human life at conception, some of these crazy conclusions logically follow. But that’s all the more reason to question the baseline presumption.

  5. Pingback: The politics of abortion, loving our neighbors, and more UU blogging « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

  6. Pingback: “…the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” or Todd Akin Lost, But Not For the Reason You Think « East Of Midnight

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