Representative Todd Akin talks. All day long. When you talk for a living you are bound to “mis-speak”. You get a word out of place. Or you use a wrong word. Or…whatever. It happens. One minute you have a control on your soundbite and the next minute you are staring at these words that are gliding through space. Just where did they come from? you wonder.
So while “legitimate rape” startles and angers me. It does seem like something I could see as a weird, sorry slip of the tongue. It’s this slip of the tongue that Rep. Akin has expressed his remorse about.
The real concern isn’t the talking politician getting lost in his words. The real concern is the poorly-supported research and discredited assumptions Akin uses as the foundation of his argument. That is, that pregnancies from rape are “really rare,” because, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Despite the indisputable statistics from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that 5% of rapes result in pregnancies and ignoring the almost universal opinion of medical doctors and scientists, Rep. Aken continues to believe and cite as evidence debunked studies and old wives’ tales.
Why does a well-educated, responsible, elected public official parrot widely discredited theories? I suspect it’s this: Rep Akin is strongly opposed to abortion. Across the board opposition. But even those who oppose abortion are troubled about demanding that a rape victim must bring her pregnancy to term. This creates a dilemma: How does one oppose abortion and deal with the fact that 5% of rapes result in pregnancy?
What we should do is engage in a thorny conversation about the complexities of moral decision making. But what actually happens is we choose to ignore a portion of reality. We simply pretend that what is, isn’t real.
And in ignoring what is – we are given the cover to cultivate our beliefs about what we want to be true, instead of engaging with what is true and asking ourselves how does our faith robustly and authentically speak into what is.
In my prayer time this morning I read The New Living Bible’s translation of Job 13:4, here Job questions his religious friend Zophar: “Are you defending God with lies? Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake? Job is sitting in the failed ruins of what he had once thought was true. Reality has changed for Job. Courageously, in contrast to his friends, Job would rather risk his life speaking honestly to God than to save it by lies and mistruths. Job would rather deal with what is, than defend God with lies, phony-baloney research, and simple answers.
If the followers of Christ and lovers of God could start engaging honestly with what is, I bet the what could be would have greater resonance. We’d be more like Job. And maybe, like him we might “know that my Redeemer lives and that in my flesh I shall see God.”
That’s seeing reality.