Protecting the Victims of Rape

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.”

Deuteronomy 24:16 (NIV)

In the United States, the death penalty is not enforced for rape—at least for the rapist.1 Sadly, a baby conceived from rape is often in greater danger than is his criminal father. In the midst of the legitimate desire to comfort a woman who has suffered the pain of a terrible crime, some may unwittingly heap tragedy on top of tragedy. In the name of compassion, an unborn baby is handed a death sentence for his father’s sin.

infant-holding-mothers-hand-bwThis law from Deuteronomy falls in the middle of an entire chapter dedicated to protecting the weak. As God’s covenant people, Israel was to be different, not living in the same self-absorbed, greedy manner as her neighbors. God intended them to take special care of the most vulnerable people among them—aliens, widows, orphans, and especially the poor. Verse 16 continues this theme. Law codes in the ancient Near East commonly allowed for an offender’s children to be executed alongside him. Establishing a basic principle of justice for His people, God rejected that precedent and commanded His people to exact punishment only on the guilty. The innocent should not be compelled to suffer.

This principle applies clearly to the child conceived in rape. The infant is not culpable in this horrible crime, which has already victimized the woman. To make the unborn a second victim cannot be God’s desire.

Many women understand this. A majority of those who find themselves pregnant from rape choose to bring the baby to term.2 Since abortion advocates repeatedly raise the case of rape, it is important to note that conception from this crime is very rare in the West.3 Equally rare in Western contemporary culture is the level of moral heroism the victimized mother shows in sustaining rather than ending the life of the child.4 The Church brings honor to God when it honors her.

Honor, though, is not enough. The people of God are also called to surround both mother and child with care, including the basics of life, the blessings of friendship, and, if needed, provisions for adoption. Through this, the Church helps turn the mother’s eyes from a bitter past to a grace-filled future, both for the child and herself.

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Endnotes

1 Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Montana have laws that allow the death penalty for certain categories of rape (i.e., rape of a minor), however, these laws have not been enforced since 1964.

2 David C. Reardon, Julie Makimaa, Amy Sobie, eds. Victims and Victors: Speaking Out about Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2000). See also, Sandra Kathleen Mahkorn, “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault,” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. David Mall and Walter F. Watts (New York: University Publications of America, Inc., 1979).

3 Mark H. Beers and Robert Berkow, “The Medical Examination of a Rape Victim,” in The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck, 1999), http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section18/chapter244/244a.jsp. See, Section 18, Chapter 244.

4 Tragically in war torn regions of the world, women suffer the double trauma of rape as a deliberate act of humiliation and degradation by an enemy.

Evil in the Name of Good

Believers may imagine that all proponents of unrighteous causes set out to do evil. Yet, according to the Bible, that is often not how sin works. Many times, those who advocate and commit great evils believe they are advancing a righteous cause. That’s not to say all intentions are good. In some instances, people do set out to sin, as in the case of Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 50:20). Other times, motivations that seem positive or neutral on the surface are driven by deep-seated selfishness, idolatry or other vices. Still, the intentions of believers’ cultural opponents often are not purely evil. Scripture bears this out.

contradictoryConsider the Apostle Paul. Before his conversion to faith in Christ, he persecuted Christians, imprisoning them, attempting to make them blaspheme, and even holding the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen. But he was not doing all this out of spite for the Lord. Rather, he thought he was serving God. “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” Paul told King Agrippa in Acts 26:9. Similarly, he told the Philippians his persecution of Christians was motivated by religious zeal (Philippians 3:6).

Sin still works this deceptive way. Indeed, with minimal Internet searching, it’s possible to find champions of gay marriage, abortion, and Islamic terrorism who believe they are advancing a righteous cause. Consider the following:

— When the Supreme Court announced its nationwide legalization of gay marriage, the Interfaith Alliance issued a statement calling same-sex unions consistent with Christianity: “This is a victory for marriage; this is a victory for families and children; this a victory for the love that is preached by the prophets and spiritual leaders of every faith tradition. Today’s decision is, without question, one of the most important civil rights decisions in a generation.”[1] The statement was reminiscent of a 2005 United Church of Christ resolution that “affirm[ed] equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender” based on the supposed fact that “the Bible affirms and celebrates human expressions of love and partnership.”[2]

— When news broke that Planned Parenthood may have sold the body parts of aborted children, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson wrote an open letter to a current Planned Parenthood executive seen in an undercover video discussing the harvesting of fetal parts. Johnson, who is now a prolife advocate, recounted her own experience of harvesting fetal body parts and said she formally did not view it as evil.

“After a grueling abortion day, we would all go out for margaritas and Mexican food,” Johnson wrote. “We would talk about the day and specific abortion cases. It wasn’t gross to us. We honestly didn’t think anything about it. We would plainly talk about harvesting fetal parts as if we were talking about harvesting a field of corn. That was our normal . . . and we were proud to live in it.”[3]

— Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the so-called Islamic State, said in a 2014 sermon that he viewed ISIS terrorism as a moral duty. “Allah commanded us to fight His enemies and to wage Jihad for His sake, in order to achieve this purpose and to establish His religion,” he said. “. . .  Oh people, the religion of Allah will not be established, and the purpose for which Allah created us will not be achieved, unless the law of Allah is instated and observed.”[4]

Evil acts are not justified because their perpetrators think they are doing good. And surely the LGBT activist, the abortionist, and the terrorist are driven by some evil intentions. But realizing the deceived mindset of many cultural and political opponents can help believers in several ways. First, it leads us to pray, because such individuals often need supernatural intervention to change their mindsets. Second, it leads us to argue rigorously and logically for Judeo-Christian principles, for only well-crafted arguments tend to sway minds entrenched in deception. Finally, it leads us to hope, because the greatest Christian missionary the world has ever known was also once deceived by evil.

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Endnotes

[1] Lauren Maroke, “Righteous or Repugnant? Religious Responses to the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision,” June 26, 2015, Religion News Service, http://www.religionnews.com/2015/06/26/religious-responses-to-the-supreme-courts-gay-marriage-decision/ (accessed July 16, 2015).

[2] United Church of Christ, “Equal Marriage Rights for All,” July 4, 2005,  United Church of Christ Website, http://uccfiles.com/pdf/2005-EQUAL-MARRIAGE-RIGHTS-FOR-ALL.pdf (accessed July 16, 2015).

[3] Abby Johnson, “Dear Dr. Nucatola: I Used to Harvest Fetal Tissue for Planned Parenthood Just Like You,” July 14, 2015, LifeSiteNews, https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/dear-dr.-nucatola-i-used-to-harvest-fetal-tissue-for-planned-parenthood-too (accessed July 16, 2015).

[4] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, “ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Calls on Muslims to Wage Jihad, Says: Becoming a Caliph Is a Heavy Responsibility,” July 4, 2014, Middle East Media Research Institute Website, http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/4335.htm (accessed July 16, 2015).

BibleMesh Launches Mounce Greek Courses

HAMILTON, Bermuda—Bill Mounce’s best-selling Greek textbook The Basics of Biblical Greek is the foundation for two new online courses launched by Mounce and BibleMesh.

mounce-logo-straplineDivided into 36 lessons on Greek grammar, vocabulary and translation technique, The Basics of Biblical Greek online courses combine classic textbook content with Cerego technologies to enhance grammar and vocabulary retention. Easily adapted into the standard two-semester format of learning biblical Greek, the courses are available in either a stand-alone format or with an academic support bundle.

With the academic support bundle, students can retain permanent access to their grades and receive academic credit at partner institutions of higher education.

The Basics of Biblical Greek textbook is used in colleges and seminaries across the world and has helped more than 200,000 students learn to read the New Testament in the original Greek.

“I am delighted that we are able to partner with Bill Mounce on this important project, enabling people to read God’s Word in the original language,” said BibleMesh publisher Emmanuel Kampouris. “Our global team has long sought to help people know and love the Bible. We strongly believe that this new collaboration honors this purpose.”

The courses include Greek audio recordings, vocabulary tutorials and teaching videos featuring Mounce, president of BiblicalTraining.org.

Mounce said the online courses are “not merely an eBook” but “a truly interactive, learning experience.”

“There is so much that we can do electronically to help the student learn biblical Greek, making the process much less painful than a traditional paper textbook,” said Mounce. “That is why I am delighted to be working hand in hand with BibleMesh, using their expertise to accomplish this goal. From the presentation of the written material, to the inclusion of the videos, to the interactive testing, we are well on our way to a new type of learning experience. And for teachers, the embedded administrative tools from Cerego will make teaching a class of any size a rewarding experience.”

In the coming months, BibleMesh will release other Mounce courses based on content from BiblicalTraining.org, which offers resources for discipleship in the local church.

BibleMesh is an internationally known source for theological content that promotes biblical understanding and Christian discipleship. It launched in 2010 to offer high-quality courses in a cutting-edge online learning environment.

Kampouris and his wife Camille began BibleMesh to address biblical illiteracy worldwide. Emmanuel Kampouris is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of American Standard Companies, Inc. Camille Kampouris is an educator and performer most known for her work with The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street.

For more information about BibleMesh, visit biblemesh.com.

 

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New BibleMesh Course Explores Biblical Gender Roles

ProfilePicMAKost.smallHAMILTON, Bermuda—BibleMesh is pleased to announce the launch of God’s Design for Man & Woman, an online course from Andreas and Margaret Kӧstenberger explaining the Bible’s teaching about gender roles and applying it to the modern world. In 10 instructional units with more than 30 videos, students will learn that God created man and woman with equally significant yet distinct and complementary roles in the church and the family.

The Kӧstenbergers have been married for 25 years and are the parents of four children. He serves as senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where Margaret is adjunct professor of women’s studies.

“Our culture is in great ferment on the issue of gender identities and roles,” Andreas Kӧstenberger said. “As a result, there is an acute need to equip this generation with the clear teaching of Scripture on this subject. In God’s Design for Man & Woman, we show how God’s original pattern was established at creation, subverted at the fall, and is now being restored in Christ for believers. Lasting fulfillment for men and women comes not through political action, legislative initiative, or judicial decree, but only by spiritual transformation.”

Among the features of God’s Design for Man & Woman are:

  • A survey of Scripture’s teaching on gender from Genesis to Revelation rather than a focus only on debated passages.
  • Instructional videos featuring the Kӧstenbergers’ discussing key issues from their perspectives as a husband and wife.
  • Opportunities for reflection, interaction with the material, and assessment.
  • A church curriculum that can be used in conferences or small groups with a facilitator, video component, and discussion questions.

Available at www.BibleMesh.com and www.biblicalfoundations.org, God’s Design for Man & Woman is based on the Kӧstenbergers’ book of the same title published by Crossway.

GDMW“In a world awash in confusion about God’s plan for men and women, BibleMesh has gladly partnered with Andreas and Margaret Kӧstenberger in this important project,” said BibleMesh publisher Emmanuel Kampouris. “Their instruction in this course helps bring the clarity of God’s Word to bear on the subject of gender.”

Kampouris and his wife Camille began BibleMesh to address biblical illiteracy worldwide. Emmanuel Kampouris is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of American Standard Companies, Inc. Camille Kampouris is an educator and performer most known for her work with The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street.

BibleMesh is an internationally known source for theological content that promotes biblical understanding and Christian discipleship. It launched in 2010 to offer high-quality courses in a cutting-edge online learning environment.

 

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Discipleship Explored Launched by BibleMesh and Christianity Explored Ministries

HAMILTON, Bermuda—BibleMesh and Christianity Explored Ministries have partnered to launch an online course explaining the basics of living a joyful Christian life.

Discipleship Explored is based on the course of the same name published by The Good Book Company and takes students on an eight-stage inductive journey through the book of Philippians. The course answers questions such as: How can we be confident of our salvation? Who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do? Why is church so important? Why read the Bible? What is righteousness and how do we get it? How can we know Jesus better? What difference does prayer make? And how can we be content in all circumstances, even when suffering?

ChristExplo

“Though a church-based course is ideal, we recognize that they’re not always practical, and for various reasons: erratic schedules, personal health factors, not to mention the difficulties faced by isolated believers living in countries where churches are being shut down or driven underground,” said Barry Cooper, author of Discipleship Explored and director of product development at Christianity Explored Ministries. “That’s why Discipleship Explored Online has been developed.

“This is more than a simple ‘port’ of Discipleship Explored,” Cooper continued. “There are many things we can do online that would be impossible in an offline course. So this is a hugely exciting moment for us. We are thrilled to be partnering with BibleMesh and are grateful for their dedication and vision. We’re looking forward to seeing how the Lord will use Discipleship Explored Online.”

Each of the eight stages of Discipleship Explored features an introductory Bible study, a 10-­15 minute video, targeted questions to help students apply what they have learned, and follow-­up studies that explore other biblical passages on the same theme.

Christianity Explored Ministries was founded by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper under the ministry of John Stott at All Souls Church, Langham Place in Central London.

BibleMesh is an internationally known source for theological content that promotes biblical understanding and Christian discipleship. It launched in 2010 to offer high-quality courses in a cutting-edge online learning environment.

Emmanuel and Camille Kampouris began BibleMesh to address biblical illiteracy worldwide. Emmanuel Kampouris is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of American Standard Companies, Inc. Camille Kampouris is an educator and performer most known for her work with The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street.

“It’s a pleasure to partner with Christianity Explored Ministries to offer tried and true Christian resources in an online format,” said Emmanuel Kampouris. “From the very beginning, our global team has sought to provide a fresh, faithful introduction to the Bible and to bring its teachings to bear on everyday life. We strongly believe that this new collaboration honors that purpose.”

For more information about BibleMesh or Christianity Explored Ministries, visit biblemesh.com.

 

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Lessons from the Seder

Seder20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.’ 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 (ESV)

Through the millennia, Jews have observed the Passover seder (feast), commemorating their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Today, many Christian churches reenact this ceremony, but with a difference. They apply it to Christ. Working from Messianic haggadahs (Passover texts), they recite the wonders of God’s deliverance from Egypt and eat the symbolic matzoth, horseradish, egg, and apple. It is all carefully scripted, with precise actions and wording. The ceremonial stipulations are exact—the shank bone of a lamb, an empty chair for Elijah, the father’s questions for the children. There is no free-wheeling discussion, improvisation, or validation of divergent opinions. The message and format are fixed. Both are biblically and educationally important.

In this connection, Deuteronomy 6:20-25 illustrates several principles of religious instruction:

  1. Historical context is important (vv. 21-22). Those who fail to recognize the handiwork of the Author of history and the debt they owe to their heritage will live prideful, irresponsible lives. And though it is fashionable in academic and political circles to shape history for ideological purposes, God teaches that history is fixed, and only one version is true.
  2. Memorization is important. While of course there is a time for dispute and dialogue, certain bedrock statements should be committed to memory. Rote memorization of Scripture has fallen on hard times, but both the son’s questions about definite rules (v. 20) and the Lord’s provision of a definite answer (v. 21) show its necessity and vitality.
  3. Stated purposes are important. The Pharisees, not God, loved rules for the sake of rules. While teachers are not required to give an instant reason for every directive, the students must have confidence that rules are not arbitrary. Rules need good reasons, and these reasons are worth sharing (cf. vv. 23-24). Teachers who press the commands of God without highlighting the beneficent purposes of God do the Lord and their students a grave disservice.
  4. Theological context is important. False gods surrounded the Israelites, much as religious pluralism and vague spirituality surround contemporary Christians. Teachers must insure that their students understand God’s nature and authority. He it is to whom reverence is due (“the LORD”), who trounces false gods (v. 22), who commits Himself with integrity to men (v. 23), who should be feared (v. 24), and who secures goodness and life for His people (v. 24).

In the Christian Church, catechisms have played a role similar to that of the Passover seder. They too offer precise answers to vital questions. And they have proven to be a treasure on which pastors can draw in shepherding their people toward Christian maturity and articulate service in a world impatient with truth and reverence. In church, as in Moses’ congregation, it is wonderful to have sound, concise, and memorable answers available “when your sons (and daughters) ask.”