The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…


Today’s winner is Bryan Cones, who showcases his bad theology in his article, “How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?”. Cones presents some typical liberal talking points while bring some of his belief into light which are very troubling.  (Cones’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?

While pundits and Democrats can't make enough political fodder of GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancy as a result of rape is "something God intended," I have to wonder why there aren't more theologians and pastors roundly denouncing the theology behind it. I wonder if it isn't because many people hold this understanding of the way God's power works in the world, a variant of God "writing straight with crooked lines." It's just that no one wants to admit it when it comes to something as horrific as rape.

The pundits and Democrats that Cones speaks of are not quoting Mourdock word for word. They are making straw man arguments because the statement Mourdock made is not actually that shocking. Mourdock stated that every child is a gift from God regardless of how they were conceived. The reason there are not more theologians and pastors denouncing Mourdock is because what he said is in line with traditional Christian values.

Frankly, it's a big problem with the way we people of faith deal with evil: We want to insist God is in complete control--which perhaps makes our suffering a bit easier--but then we're forced to say that God has some ultimate good in mind when God "permits" terrible things to happen--think the Holocaust. But we wouldn't sanction immoral means to achieve a good end for human beings, so why would we absolve God for doing it?

Here’s the problem with Cones’ argument. What he said would be true if God were the one committing the evil action. We know that God does not commit evil actions; he only allows them as a consequence of our free will. Cones’ lack of understanding of basic Christian beliefs is rather astounding.

It seems to me sufficient to say that the rules of God's creation have made it so that, in the right conditions, when a human sperm and egg join in the right place and at the right time, human life is possible. Unfortunately, that can happen through an act of violence, which is also possible through the rules of God's creation expressed in human freedom. But to say God directly "intends" the creation of that life through such a profound perversion of human freedom is a theological step too far, and we people of faith should call out this kind of blasphemy--because that's what it is--especially when it comes from the mouth of another Christian.

If you want to get emotional, which is what Cones’ is doing here; we can take his argument to the logical conclusion. We can then say that the person created as a result of that act of violence is a person that God did not intend to exist. That of course is ridiculous because God loves us all as His children. He does not despise or regret anyone’s existence simply due to the mean by which they were conceived. Surely Cones’ is not insinuating that Mourdock thinks rape is something God intends. That would be dishonest.

That still leaves us with what Catholic tradition calls "the mystery of evil"; there is simply no good answer for the fact that something fundamentally good--human life--can result from an act of such diabolical evil--rape--which is finally why the issue of abortion in the case of rape is so fraught with moral difficulty. Some argue--and this would be most consistent with church teaching--that the objective good of the developing human life is sacrosanct, while others would respond that the pregnancy is a continuation of the objectively immoral assault on the woman who has been raped, and so an abortion in this instance would be morally permissible.

The issue of abortion in the case of rape is only fraught with moral difficulty because people like Mourdock have muddied the waters. Either an unborn child is a person or not. If abortion is not desirable for conventional pregnancies, then it cannot be desirable in cases of rape. This is essentially a failure of logic or a failure of honesty. You cannot have it any other way. So is Cones in favor of the view of the “others” who do not hold the view of the Church? Cones is basically saying that doing evil is OK as long as you have faulty logic. That is a severely morally-depraved conviction.

Those fine points of moral theology never get fair coverage in the press--we can hardly expect them to. But what Christians simply cannot allow, however, is permitting a frankly childish theological answer such as Mourdock's to stand without response.

We also cannot allow a childish rebuttal of a fundamentally sound theological statement to stand without response. I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler award for Tuesday, October 30 to Bryan Cones.