Aleteia

Does God intend life to come from rape?

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A candidate for U.S. Senator claimed that God intends conception to occur in situations of rape. Does God really intend life to come from rape?

In a perfect world, where no sin occurred, God would intend for all new life to come from the sexual intimacy of a husband and wife. Because the Lord gave us free will, however, even to choose to engage in sinful acts such as rape, it is possible for pregnancy to occur as a result of sinful actions. Rape is always grievously sinful and a violation of sexual intimacy, but the evil action of a parent does not affect the value of the innocent child. Each life, regardless of the circumsances of his/her conception, is loved by the Lord.

Rape is always an intrinsically evil act because its end is violence against another human being.

The Lord intended sexual intercourse to take place solely in the context of marriage between one man and one woman. In Genesis, we see this when Adam cries out upon seeing Eve: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." The Scriptures go on to say, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (Genesis 2).
 
The intimacy implied by sexual union is meant for spouses alone and was intended by God to be free, faithful and fruitful. The Church holds that this union is not only physical, but also spiritual: "In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2360).
 
It is clear, therefore, that rape is a violent act and a serious sin as it stands in direct contradiction to the intimacy that sexual intercourse is supposed to signify. The Catechism states, “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right" (Catechism, 2356).
 
The Lord never intended the sexual act to be committed in this violent way. Rape is always grievously sinful.

Human life is always sacred from the moment of conception, regardless of the way in which the baby was conceived.

Human life starts at conception. When sperm fertilizes an egg, a new human being has been created. "By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception" says Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic. Each new person has his/her own set of DNA, a genetic code that shows that he/she is a unique person.
 
A new human life is not simply the sum of a father and a mother, nor the sum of their actions. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith writes, "From the time the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth." (Declaration on Procured Abortion, no. 12).
 
Blessed Pope John Paul II writes extensively about the value of each human life in Evangelium Vitæ: "'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you' (Jer. 1:5): the life of every individual, from its very beginning, is part of God's plan” (Evangelium Vitæ, 44). The Lord knew each of us, regardless of how we were conceived, and loved us before we even existed.
 
Professor Joseph Arias of Christendom College explains that "[e]ven a great good such as human life might in some cases result from an act involving sin.  Some children are conceived from acts of fornication, adultery, and in more recent times, in vitro fertilization.  God forbids these actions insofar as they are sinful, but the human lives that result are still invaluable – to the person who has been conceived especially – and to the rest of us who may have the privilege of loving them in this life and in the life to come."

There is a difference between the Positive Will of God and what He allows to occur because of people's free will (His Permissive Will). The Lord often brings good out of a fallen world–new life from destructive acts.
Scripture tells us that the Lord created the world and pronounced it good; even so, evil actions contrary to God's plan are often committed. This is because God has granted men and women free will. While the Lord permits evil to be chosen by men and women, in His Providence, He also may bring good out of evil.

 
The Catechism teaches, "Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it” (Catechism, 312).
 
Professor Joseph Arias writes,  "It is important to recognize that in such a case as this [rape], or in any case involving sin, it is not that God is willing the sin so that good results [conception of a human life] and the good result thereby justifies the sin. The sin as such is always evil and forbidden (it is not willed at all by God); by definition, it cannot be justified, even by the good results brought out of it.  Still, the good brought out remains good and capable of having a positive role in God's providence."
 
In regards to children conceived because of rape, Professor Arias writes, "God positively wills the good of the lives conceived, even though the evils involved in the acts which led to their conceptions were forbidden and only permitted to take place."

The pain and suffering of a rape victim is inestimable and demands an outpouring of compassion and care. The violence perpetrated against a woman cannot be canceled out, however, through the violence of abortion against her child. Her healing can only come through God's love and God's people as they make His love palpable.