” Yes, in an objective sense, some rape victims may be culpable in a limited sense — in the same way that a mother may have limited culpability for her child’s death if she forgets to remind him to put on his bicycle helmet the day that he is hit by a car — ”

This is from a comment by Melina Selmys. Melinda’s comment in context is about the importance of not blaming or shaming rape victims, but I think there’s something wrong, in an important way, with what she’s conceding.

She compares rape to getting hit by a car. That is, rape is a pre-existing, natural, impersonal violent event. But this is not true. Rape is a perverse and deliberately willed act of violence another person chooses to commit.

The normal obligations we have to ward off evils like disease, accidents, and disasters cannot be applied to to the victims of a violent crime. The two cases are totally different.

Two sets people bear the blame in the case of a violent crime: the criminal, and those charged with curtailing the activities of evildoers. The state is responsible for protecting its citizens, institutions and communities are to a degree responsible for the conduct of their members, and as Christians we are all responsible for protecting and supporting our brothers and sisters.

The “limited culpability” in the case of rape belongs not the victim, but, in the case of rape as it is practiced in America, to the collective whose silence or compliance enabled the rapist.

If we could be “culpable” in some way, for failing to prevent our own deliberate victimization by other people, the culpability for Christ’s death would lie on his own head, not only on ours.

Moreover, his injunction in the Gospel

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

would be an invitation to wrong-doing. The Gospel’s ethic is one of perfect love, and may not be immediately possible for everyone, or proper to enforce at the level of government, but its tenets certainly do not represent moral failure even in the smallest sense.


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