Todd Akin and I each have a Master of Divinity degree. His is from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. We both call ourselves Presbyterians but our denominations are different and we have different perspectives about the world. He is a PCA Christian and I am a PCUSA Christian.
In light of the week’s political events, I’ve been thinking about a couple of influential books we all need to read or re-read:
Texts of Terror by Phyllis Trible reminds us of several Biblical stories we will never hear about in a Sunday sermon. Remember the unnamed concubine who is given to a man by her father against her will, then gang-raped by a band of townsmen, and finally gets chopped into pieces by the husband who ships her body parts throughout Israel? Most of us don’t like to think about the fact that such a thing could happen, especially in the Bible.
In Against Our Will Susan Brownmiller, reminds us that relationships between men and women changed forever, historically, when men realized they could rape women.
I feel for Todd Akin who seems to be from a church tradition that believes that ugly things don’t usually happen – especially for innocent people. Someone taught him that a woman’s body has a natural deterrent to pregnancy if she is raped.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing? But it’s not true. Hundreds of women in Bosnia and the Democratic Republic of Congo can testify to this.
[Note: Mr. Akin's denomination does not allow the ordination of women and in some PCA congregations, women are not allowed to teach boys over the age of 13. The Church of the Redeemer in Manhattan, led by the great Tim Keller, is a PCA congregation uses this document about the role of women in leadership. It says that women are called to do everything men can do except serve as elders and deacons.]
There are many good church people out there who are sequestered from the ugliness of this world. Maybe we live in gated communities or maybe we just avoid things like poverty and mental illness and violence. Many of us seek “success” so that we can separate ourselves from all that’s dirty and depressing. We don’t want to be reminded of ugliness.
But this is the antithesis of what Jesus did. Jesus reached out to the dirty and depressing. He subjected himself to ugliness up close and personal.
I think my brother in Christ, Todd Akin, would like to pretty-up life’s ugliness and I get that. But there is more than one way to do this. God can redeem even the experience of a rape victim and that is part of our calling – to help make this happen. But we are missing the point when we try to pretty-up the horrors of life by blaming victims or expressing outlandish wishful thinking about ugly realities.
I would love the upcoming political election to include conversations about this, about world views rather than half-truths declared in ads funded by the most powerful. What do you think’s going on in terms of spiritual reflection and the current nature of politics?