Condoms and Consent

Mark Regnerus in Public Discourse:

Saying that it’s all on men to change their behavior may signal progressive virtue online, but it will do little to diminish real-life grief. The realities of sexual exchange will not disappear and cannot be eviscerated by fiat or reformed by speech rules. And eventually, the social media shaming will come to an end. Then what?

Regnerus suggests establishing and/or reinforcing cultural norms, clear “no-fly” zones in which men know not to make a pass and women insist on the boundaries.

I have a two-part suggestion for my fellow members of the XY chromosome club, one that comes from the inventor of sex: 1) marriage is a “fly zone”; 2) every other situation is not.

Rachel Lu shows through her experience in the Peace Corps that the progressive liberal method of chucking abstinence before marriage and boiling the norms down to condoms and consent still puts women (especially women, but not only women) in danger:

If you’re accustomed to thinking of Hollywood as a cesspool of sin and vice, you may not find [the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, et al.] surprising. Many were surprised, though. Progressives assume that their own mores protect and affirm women while the traditionalists objectify and repress. It’s worth thinking through the logic of a libertine environment, to see how mistaken this reasoning may be.

Traditional sinners and progressive ones can both objectify and repress women; there are ditches on both sides of the highway. But which worldview best protects and affirms them? I believe it is the one that says they’re made in the image of God, just like men, and that their sexuality is a precious gift meant for their husbands alone (Prov 5:15–19). My wife and I have talked this over extensively: we see clearly that biblical guardrails shaped our singleness toward the happy marriage we now enjoy. We are so grateful that the fly and no-fly zones were clear—and were reinforced by our Christian communities.

Lu shows the mistakenness in the progressive worldview by describing what it was like as a conservative Mormon to be in a libertine environment, the Peace Corps of the early 2000s.

In the absence of a more elevated sexual ethic, baser realities tend to assert themselves. No social engineering can really change the fact that men have a higher sex drive than women, while women remain more vulnerable in sexual encounters. Any sane response to this will demand that men take reasonable steps to discipline themselves, and women to protect themselves. Society at large should support both efforts, while providing especially strong protections for children, the most vulnerable of all. Obviously there is much room here for debating what is “reasonable,” but if we reject even that broad framework, we inevitably set the stage for uncomfortable professional and social dynamics, which may also facilitate more-serious forms of sexual predation.

And she makes this very important point:

“Consent” offers at least some standard of behavior as a lowest common denominator that no decent person can reject. That principle is grossly inadequate, though, for grounding a healthy sexual dynamic. Rape, after all, is not the only form of sexual misbehavior. If it’s the only one we discourage, we’re likely to end up with more rapists.

I love my liberal neighbor, and I want to ask him or her, are you sure that your sexual ethic is leading to human flourishing? Are any partisans for the sexual revolution out there engaging in any true soul-searching, or are they going to pin the Weinsteinian downfalls on a few bad apples? Perhaps the apples are rotten because the tree is—but God is in the business of replanting people. Repent and believe.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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