Rules for Christian sex and rules about rules

Rules are a lousy way to get people to follow rules.

Just at the most basic level, giving rules and expecting them to be followed doesn’t work unless those rules are explained, understood and owned by the people you expect to follow them. No one will, or can, respect a rule that hasn’t been explained and understood.

So if you’re big on rules, or if you’re trying to make a career or a hobby out of scolding people for not following your rules, then it might be good to step back and consider whether you might be the source of this problem. If you haven’t explained your rules, or if you’re not able to explain your rules, then it’s pretty silly to expect anyone else to treat them with respect.

This is why our Christian Rules for Sex and our Rules for Christian Sex are a dead end. It’s not so much that these rules are widely disobeyed, but that they are largely irrelevant. We don’t bother explaining most of them. We aren’t able to explain many of them. So it shouldn’t be surprising that others don’t understand them either.

Part of the reason we don’t bother explaining these rules is that they seem so simple. The Christian Rules for Sex/Rules for Christian Sex seem to boil down to a single, binary question: Yes or no? Are we talking about sex between a married straight couple? If yes, the rules say, then everything is fine. If no, the rules say, then it is an abomination and a vile stench in the nostrils of God.

Libby Anne summarized this nicely in her “Tale of Two Boxes,” from which I’ve borrowed the illustration used here.

When the church teaches this binary question and the set of rules it provides as the whole of Christian teaching about sex it’s basically inviting people to ignore what it has to say. As long as such rules are asserted without being explained, explored and defended, then no one should ever expect them to be followed, honored or otherwise taken seriously. (And, no, citing chapter-and-verse is not a way of defending the rules, just of reasserting them.)

Now, I think that part of the reason this binary question and its collection of rules haven’t been explained and defended is because these rules, as usually asserted, can’t be explained or defended. I think our usual assumptions about the CRS/RCS are, in many ways, wrong.

This is where my more conservative evangelical critics accuse me of wanting to “do away with the rules” and of arguing that “anything goes.” That’s not true, but such accusations are to be expected from folks who have asserted and embraced a set of rules without exploring or explaining them, even to themselves.

My response to such accusations is always the same: I’m not saying anything goes, I simply want you to treat your “biblical rules about sex” exactly the same way that you’re already treating the biblical rules about money. I want you to take the exact same hermeneutical approach that you are already taking to every biblical teaching on wealth and possessions and apply that to biblical teaching on sexuality. Then treat both sets of teachings — and other people — with more respect than your current practice seems to do with regard to either subject.

My point here, though, is not to argue about the substance of the CRS/RCS, but to note that this rule-based approach is fundamentally misguided — that rules are just about the worst possible method for getting people to obey the rules.

Asserting  and reasserting a list of rules rather than offering a functional sexual ethics won’t ever produce ethical behavior. All you’ll get from asserting a list of rules is a long list of people who break them.

This rules-based approach also has all kinds of disastrous unintended consequences. (At least, I hope these consequences are unintended.) Rod at Political Jesus outlines many of them in a righteous rant titled “India, Ohio, John Piper, Religion and the Triumph of Rape Culture.”

His focus there is on how the “purity culture” of American Christianity feeds and fosters the rape culture of American Christianity. (Yes, the rape culture of American Christianity. When the church is noticeably different from the rest of American culture on this point, then we can start talking about “the rape culture of American society surrounding the church.” But we’re nowhere near that yet.)

Rod says, bluntly, that it’s time for America’s Christian subculture to “kiss purity culture goodbye”:

In the Old and New Testament, purity and religion are never separate from seeking justice from others. Religious purity according to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” shows an understanding of purification that is not limited to sexual purity.

What complementarians (church going men who see women as 2nd class citizens) cling to is exactly what is impure: the power that men have over women.

He also links to several other excellent posts elsewhere on this same subject of purity culture as a way of enforcing men’s power over women, including Sarah Moon on the Orwellian logic of “complementarianism,” E.J. Graff’s powerful, disturbing essay, “Purity Culture Is Rape Culture,” and a killer post from Wartburg Watch on John Piper and Domestic Violence (about which, see also the latest from Dianna Anderson).

I want to highlight in particular a post from Julia at Women in Theology on “Sexual violence and the church: talking to teens.” After some wise words on what needs to be taught to teens, and how to teach it, Julia concludes with an important explanation of why sexual ethics is better than sexual rules — and the cruel consequences of the rules-based teaching that predominates in our churches:

The reality of sexual violence is important to discuss and teens, like the rest of us, need to hear that it is a very serious sin. Yes, sin. The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without having to resort to legal definitions  and loopholes. We can claim that sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other. The language of sexual activities as an expression of love and respect clearly exposes the misstep that a rape victim could ever be “asking for it” and the mistake of defining consent exclusively in terms of its minimum requirements. It is important that we keep talking about sexual violence in church.

Julia sees theological language as an asset in teaching sexual ethics, and she employs such language forcefully.

Yet she also shows how the mere assertion of rules — X is sin, don’t do X — isn’t just unhelpful, but harmful. It contributes to the victim-blaming that allows the triumph of rape culture Rod discusses.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There is really only two rules that need be worried about: Are both persons capable of consenting? And have they both consented?

    Then the rest can be left well enough alone.

  • Lunch Meat

    This is a brilliant post. I touched on this in my blog here:

    Take a question that was raised in Bible class recently: “What does the
    Greek word for “sexual immorality” mean?” The teacher explained that the
    word (“porneia”) is about as vague and far-reaching as the English
    phrase is, and asked the student what she thought (a good teaching
    response). And she said “Well, God gives us rules because He loves us
    and wants to protect us, so I think it means anything that has, like,
    bad consequences.” My response was, “God doesn’t just give us rules to
    protect us, He gives us rules to protect others from us. So why can’t
    sexual immorality mean the same thing as other immorality, but with
    regard to sex? Or in other words: don’t be a jerk. Don’t objectify
    people. Don’t lie. Don’t use sex as a tool to manipulate. Don’t withhold
    sex from your partner for petty reasons.” Do others as you would have
    them do you.

    But instead of us thinking in terms of ethics, and what loving people
    actually means, we think about what the Bible literally says, and how
    can we summarize this book down into a list of rules? And our consciences, ability to reason, empathy and critical thinking are hampered because we never use them.

  • Carstonio

    From Graff:

    A culture in which women are expected to remain
    virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies
    are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure.

    Exactly – purity is about women as property.

    From Clark:

    Asserting  and reasserting a list of rules rather than offering a
    functional sexual ethics won’t ever produce ethical behavior. All you’ll
    get from asserting a list of rules is a long list of people who break
    them.

    While Fred is right, I was hoping that he would say that consent is the basis for any humane and rational concept of sexual ethics.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve long argued that the problem with “God-given rules” is that we don’t know that any such rules were indeed given that way – anyone can write down rules and claim a divine source.

    You and the other student didn’t even agree on first principles. You were articulating a reasonable approach to interpersonal ethics that any society could use, irrespective of religion. The other student was saying Father Knows Best, which at a minimum requires the assumption that I question above. But beyond that problem, as a father I can say with a degree of certainty that parents don’t know best. They make decisions to the best of their ability regarding the welfare of their children, but they’re not perfect. Part of raising children is teaching them to appreciate the reasons and benefits of the Golden Rule, instead of simply following rules for their own sake. What the other student was articulating was living one’s entire life as a child who doesn’t know any better.

  • Jake Litteral

    So where do Progressive Christians stand on pre-marital sex?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    He didn’t say that rules are bad, or that there are no rules, but rather that the guiding principle should be sexual ethics. There are a number of rules that come out of such sexual ethics, “all parties must be consenting” is certainly one of them.

  • Beroli

     Patheos’ confusion on the subject aside, I am unaware of such a  Christian denomination as the “Progressive.”

  • Eamon Knight

    Generally good, except this quote:

    The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular
    society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without
    having to resort to legal definitions  and loopholes. We can claim that
    sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for
    oneself and the other.

    Since when can’t “secular society” talk about all those things? Every sex/rape/gender issues thread on Pharyngula says otherwise, loudly and forcefully. Granted, that’s not all of society, not even all of the atheist movement — but the churches, as a whole, don’t seem to be any better. I flatly reject the implicit claim that there is any moral issue one which religion, as religion, has any uniquely valuable thing to say.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    That’s not true, but such accusations are to be expected from folks who have asserted and embraced a set of rules without exploring or explaining them, even to themselves.

    (Emphasis mine, of course.)

    This is and shall forever remain the key. They don’t see “self-evident truths” as requiring any exploration or explanation. Before, now, or ever. To them, quoting scripture is explanation, because scripture=word of God=from on high=unassailable. In a sense, that’s an explanation: “It came from a source that determines anything and everything, and we cannot understand that source completely, just know that everything that source provides is good and true.” It’s a pretty lame one, and one that doesn’t actually explain the reasoning but it does explain why (in theory) it should be followed.

    I don’t think or know that there’s any way to get around that. If someone thinks God is not entirely “knowable”, how could you have any hope of understanding the reasons? How could you explain to someone that it’s important to understand why God said do this, don’t do that (can’t you read the signs)? 

  • banancat

    There’s another problem with those boxes: they’re not mutually exclusive. Both gay sex and polyamory can be marital sex. Also, since when is the Bible against all forms of polygamy?

  • LL

    Well, the truth about sex rules everywhere (not just in Christianity or America) is that – from the point of view of people who believe this shit – sex belongs to men. They own it. Therefore, they get to make all the rules. Women’s (or very, very often, young girls’) opinions are irrelevant. 

    So it doesn’t matter if the rules make no sense or result in terrible things happening to people (both male and female, but let’s face it, mostly female). That’s a feature, not a bug. 

    Decent people like Fred try to explain the problem. But to many men, there is no problem. Women get raped – what’s the problem? Not a problem for men. Just a problem for women. And since it happens mostly to women (though not exclusively, which is another scuzzy layer of this repellent onion, the rape of boys and men), it’s not really a problem, anyway. 

    Obviously, the concept of “purity” and “cultures” that allow rape to flourish go hand in hand. When females are not people but property, their “virtue” becomes their only really marketable value. So raping a female is not harming a person, but lowering the value of someone else’s property (as someone else already noted above). Not as serious as stealing a cow or other livestock, though.

  • Jake Litteral

    Let me rephrase, what do some in the Progressive Christian umbrella think about pre-marital sex? Is it allowable, is the question completely irrelevant, etc. I’m asking because I’m going through a critical “rethinking” of my theological views, from a fundie Calvinist to now, hell, I have no idea.

  • ReverendRef

    Just at the most basic level, giving rules and expecting them to be followed doesn’t work unless those rules are explained, understood and owned by the people you expect to follow them.

    Well, I can tell you that explaining rules to coaches does not result in understanding of said rules.  There have been times when explaining the rule to a coach simply results in him thinking I really don’t know what I’m talking about and only making things up to piss him off.

    But I digress . . .

    I don’t think rules are the best way to maintain a religion.  For starters, relying on rules negates (or certainly diminishes) the place of faith.  There are certain tenets/doctrines of Christianity, such as the Trinity, the Resurrection, fully human-fully divine, that are a basic part of being a Christian.  And there are other aspects that can be held to or debated.

    But to say, “These are the rules that you MUST obey,” . . . I’m not buying that.  Not only does it have a tendency to constrict and drive people away, but it really devalues humanity in general in that rules assumes that we can’t be trusted to develop our faith on our own.

    As Paul says over in Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

    Kind of hard to do that when you’ve got a bunch of rules hanging over your head.

  • markedward

    I think this (the first quote) is quite true of how Christianity has perceived it in the past (and in the present). But I think the criticism should be clarified a bit, because it is criticizing a subset of Christians (albeit a rather large subset) who have this view of ‘purity’.

    Many other Christians (another subset, perhaps smaller than the other one) do not think of ‘purity’ as just ‘women are expected to remain virgins until marriage’, but that both men and women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. Not because one or the other is being viewed ‘primarily for procreation or [] pleasure’ (a tool to be used and discarded at will), but because it can strengthen the relationship between them. In other words, it is a proleptic commitment to that relationship.

    In other words, the first quote should include the important word of ‘only’, i.e. ‘A culture in which only women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture’, because that is the notion it is criticizing; that the same sentiment is not being applied evenly between men and women.

  • banancat

    Oh, also, where does the Bible say pedophilia is wrong? There are cases of very young brides that the biblical authors make no effort to condemn.

  • GeniusLemur

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: anytime someone says “why?” the conversative’s already lost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    Note that I don’t represent everyone under the Progressive Umbrella when I say this, but: I don’t view it as a big deal. There are potential negatives to premarital sex, but there are potential negatives to marital sex too, that are often glossed over. 

    Perhaps the post at the top of this thread most succinctly sums up my views: If both are capable of consenting, and both have consented, then I don’t have any problem with it. 

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I suspect that for every person who considers him- or herself to be a progressive Christian, the stance on premarital sex is going to be different.  This is probably because many of us start out with  “love God, love your neighbors” and work outwards from there.  How to express that love is up to personal choice and interpretation.

    I, personally, cannot see myself having sex outside of a formal monogamous relationship of some sort (even if not actual marriage).  For me sex involves a huge leap of faith that I am not going to be hurt, physically, emotionally, or healthwise, and I just cannot take that leap with someone that I don’t have a formal relationship with. 

    I try not to draw conclusions about others’ relationships.  If they are having sex within a committed marital (or marriage-like) relationship, great.  If they are having lots of casual sex and getting physical and emotional benefits from it, then that’s great for them, too.  If I know that uncommitted sex has hurt him or her in the past, I may push for him or her to wait for a commitment in the future not because some rules say that he or she should, but because of who he or she is and because  of his or her past history.

  • Carstonio

    He didn’t say that rules are bad, or that there are no rules

    I didn’t read Fred that way, and I wouldn’t advocate those, either. My criticism is aimed at the concept of rules for their own sake. There should be ethical principles behind any rule that should be easily understandable, otherwise it’s “Because I said so.”

  • Carstonio

    both men and women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. Not
    because one or the other is being viewed ‘primarily for procreation or
    [] pleasure’ (a tool to be used and discarded at will), but because it
    can strengthen the relationship between them.

    That sounds like a much more recent phenomenon both religiously and culturally. I suspect that the double standard for sexuality has been a norm for most of human history. Even if the official stance was that men should also remain virgins until marriage, in practice societies probably looked the other way. Or else they seemed to treat unwed fatherhood as a property crime and not a sin like unwed motherhood.

  • markedward

    And that’s probably true. Hopefully we can get this to change.

  • walden

     So where do Progressive Christians stand on pre-marital sex?

    Well, on the stairs can be good,  if you’re different heights.

  • histrogeek

     Your initial post came across as a bit accusatory, especially since as has been pointed out, “Progressive” is a best a description though we have essentially no gatekeepers so anything could be said.
    With that out of the way, the one thing nearly all Christians who would call themselves progressive would agree (most likely) is that sex ought not to be a central preoccupation of the Christian life. Justice and compassion are WAY more important than who someone with boinking.
    Second point is that violence and exploitation are great evils, if not THE great evil. Sexual violence in particular has no justification, unlike say violence used to defend another person (about which there is a good deal of disagreement).
    Third point sexuality is a complex, thorny enough issue so worry about yourself rather than other people.
    Beyond those three points, you can find individual progressives pretty much run the gamut from personally puritanical monogamy to anything with consent is OK.
    On a more positive note, sexuality is a gift from God, which is expressed in a vast and fascinating array. Sex is an expression of love (though not the only one). Individuals should explore as they feel comfortable and with whom they feel comfortable.
    So in terms of pre-marital sex, the best advice is talk and understand one another’s feelings. Figure it out together.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My response to this ballooned out of control, so I ended up putting it in my own blog instead.

    Short form:
    1) on balance, I want to add “Is anyone being hurt?”
    2) a different culture would require different (and perhaps fewer) rules.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “Bob” said it, I smoked it, that settles it.

  • Foreigner

    I’m now picturing that famous class sketch with John  Cleese at the foot of the stairs, Ronnie Barker higher up, and Ronnie Corbett at the top …

    … but I’m also picturing horrific falling downstairs scenarios, cos I’m old, and what I want mostly from a sexual venue these days is comfort. Privacy if possible, but comfort always, and no falling off of things.

  • Fusina

    I had thought about this stuff a lot (I have now an 18 year old daughter and we have had discussions for years now about these sort of things,), and one of my questions for the authoritarian/patriarchal people is, If purity is so important, why do only the girls get purity rings and balls/parties? Because if the sexes are treated differently in regard to this, then something is out of balance.  Also, Why? Why the girls and not the boys?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    One thing I found interesting about Libby Anne’s  Tale of Two Boxes was that the Progressive version of the boxes contained “rape” and the Conservative version didn’t.

    Granted,  it’s easy to put rape in one box and not the other when the boxes are about consent.

    Then again, if it’s not easy to do so when the boxes are about God’s Rules, so much the worse for God’s Rules.

  • Carstonio

    I only know about that sketch because they showed it in a Monty Python retrospective. Disappointing that very little of the members’ earlier work (At Last the 1948 Show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, Complete and Utter History of Britain) survives on video. Apparently the BBC was close to erasing the Python shows before PBS showed interest. On this side of the Atlantic, it was also customary to erase and reuse videotape, so we have only bits and pieces of Johnny Carson’s early work – his humor was more risqué in the 1960s.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    If purity is so important, why do only the girls get purity rings and balls/parties?

    Because to the authoritarian/patriarchal people, sexuality is understood primarily through the commodity model. Sexual activities are “given” by women to men, or “taken” by men from women. A woman who “gives” sexual activites has decreased value, unless it is given in exchange for something else of value. (increasing levels of commitment culminating in marriage)

    In this model, women are solely responsible for “sexual gatekeeping”. Male sexual agency is viewed as biological, primal, and at best a step away from uncontrolled; women are responsible for preventing men from acting on their “baser urges”. This is expressed in a myriad of ways, from demands of “modest dress” to outright victim-blaming. Female sexual agency is complete erased in this model; sex is something that men want and women give. There is no room in this model for female sexual agency that is not devaluing, nor is there room for male sexual modesty that is not seen as effeminate or “weak”. 

    This model does not have a strong value for consent. Sex-as-commodity views rape largely in terms of property-loss or theft. Husbands cannot rape wives, and prostitutes cannot be raped at all. Any other sexual encounter that would be classified as “rape” is viewed as a failure by the woman to be a responsible “owner” of her sexual activities. 

  • Carstonio

    Put more simply, patriarchists define women and their reproductive power as male property, either of husbands or fathers.

  • Foreigner

    In the black and white era (in which fall the shows you mention) it usually wasn’t videotape, even, but huge great glass(?) discs, which were hideously expensive and hence had to be re-used.  What survives is stuff that was filmed illegally by viewers or filmed (on film film) by the BBC in case somebody said something actionable and it had to be played for the court; all of it as of a horrible quality as you could imagine; the original Four Yorkshiremen sketch is especially vile.

    But we are straying from the topic. So, you’ve got her legs up against the mantelpiece …

  • CoolHandLNC

    Well, “some” means at least one. There is probably quite a bit of diversity.

    As for me, I am very much in agreement with Julia’s statement:

    sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other

    This is consistent with the notion, from Jesus himself, that there is no law but Love.
    About your question, though, it is irrelevant unless it pertains to you personally. It seems like you are looking for rules, as if there is a set of instructions somewhere. That seems to me to be the wrong question. When you were 5, your mother told you not to cross the street by yourself. That is a rule, suitable for a young child. But you don’t follow that now. Now you understand that crossing streets can be dangerous and requires caution and judgement. Likewise, there is no rule about where you go when, and what you do there. One exercises good judgement to avoid going to unsafe places at 2AM. But nobody says that it is a sin to be there, only that it might be unwise. Why should it be otherwise for sexual activities? Intimate relationships are a wonderful part of life but are potentially hazardous, requiring caution and judgement.

    So, why are you concerned about premarital sex? If your thinking is that you are taking something that you don’t own or defiling something, then you are thinking of women as property. If, on the other hand, you are wary of sexual relationships without a permanent commitment as being too emotionally risky for you to handle, or you don’t feel you can handle the responsibilities of a sexual relationship outside of a marital commitment, then that is your decision to make. But for yourself, not for others. What other people do behind closed doors is not your business unless and until you are in a relationship with a commitment to or understanding of exclusivity.

    Now, in discussion with certain other people who identify as Progressive Christians, I have been shocked and dismayed to have them react very negatively to my notion of sexual ethics. I am not sure what they are seeing in what I say. Perhaps it is because I tend to value marriage very highly and they read into that a notion that marriage is about one person owning another. That is not what I mean by it at all. However, the fact that they hear something very different from what I think I am saying leads me to disclaim that there exists a set of Progressive Christians whose views on marriage and sexual ethics I do not fully understand and cannot represent.

    Give life your best shot and don’t worry so much. God will understand if you don’t get everything just right.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I think that’s a tiny bit of an oversimplification. Yes, it’s about reproduction (which is why abortion gets them so very mad!) but they’re offended by non-reproductive sexual acts as well. 

    The view is very anti-sexuality in general, anti-pleasure, and hold male sexuality in strong contempt. (though not nearly as strong a contempt as female sexuality) 

  • Carstonio

    Was that a UK process? US broadcasters adopted videotape fairly early, because it was a better format for delivering content to multiple time zones. But it was very pricey for many years, hence the reuse.

  • Mark Z.

    While Fred is right, I was hoping that he would say that consent is the basis for any humane and rational concept of sexual ethics.

    No, it’s not.

    Consent is the basis for a rational shared societal doctrine of sexual ethics, because we are a pluralistic society and sex is a social activity. We acknowledge that my idea of “right” sexuality is not necessarily the same as yours, and therefore the principle we apply is that there must not be any sexual contact between us unless we both agree to it. Consent doesn’t replace our individual concepts of sexual ethics. It mediates between them.

    But a large part of what we’re talking about here is not negotiation between adults with already-established sexual desires and boundaries, but what to teach children about sexual desires and boundaries. Consent absolutely must be part of that, but can’t be all of it.

  • MaryKaye

    A reasonable three-prong test:  will this harm me?  Will it harm my partner?  Will it harm someone else, or the community as a whole?

    There is no set of fixed answers to this.  Of my two experiences with pre-marital sex, one was a (predictable) failure on the first and second points:  my reasons were lousy, my expectations were confused and contradictory, and both my partner and I got hurt.  The other seems to me to have been fine on all counts.  Having sex did lead to a very strong emotional entanglement,  but we dealt with that appropriately.  If we hadn’t been prepared to deal, it would have been a mistake to have sex.

    It’s a good idea to think this through when you are not in lust.  It’s hard to think straight while horny, which is part of why bad sexual decision-making is so common (I think an even bigger factor is that people are discouraged from thinking about it, with predictably disastrous consequences).

    I have nothing but respect for people who look at the emotional-entanglement issue and say “I don’t want to take this risk in the absence of a rock-solid commitment.”  I also respect people who know that for them sex is not an emotionally-charged shortcut to entanglement, and therefore the issue doesn’t come up.  Appropriate behavior for the two groups *differs*.

  • The_L1985

    For me, it was the rules that caused the fear and trembling.  Made me quite neurotic, as a matter of fact.

  • Carstonio

    What else would be involved for sexual ethics where children are concerned? I had thought that boundaries in sexuality are fundamentally about consent.

  • The_L1985

     And no head games, am I right? ;)

  • The_L1985

    She talked about that too, in the adjacent post “Rape: that’s a form of premarital sex, right?”

    Basically, as she pointed out, if the rapist and victim aren’t married to each other, it goes under the “Forbidden” box, but the victim is often blamed for it anyway, and it’s treated more or less like consensual premarital sex, because she’s no longer “pure.”  If they are married to each other, then it isn’t really rape, because she consented for life when she put that ring on her finger.  In other words, conservative Christian culture doesn’t have a good way of dealing with rape at all, and completely ignores the possibility that forms of rape other than male-on-female could even exist.

  • ReverendRef

     For me, it was the rules that caused the fear and trembling.  Made me quite neurotic, as a matter of fact.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not what Paul had in mind. 

    Sorry to hear that.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yeah, exactly.

    Though I guess fairness requires me to admit that there exist edge cases that motivate similarly unsatisfying hair-splitting about what’s really consent on my side.

  • Lunch Meat

    In my experience, conservative Christian culture acknowledges that rape exists, but it’s a lesser crime than divorce–so if your husband rapes you, you should pray for him and forgive him. Same story with abuse.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s still absolutely criminal that the Beeb wiped their airing of The Caves of Steel. I’m just thankful there wasn’t a similarly asinine destruction of 1984; as cheezy as its appearance is to modern viewers, as best as I can tell it’s faithful to the book, even to the way the Ministries in Oceania are great pyramidal structures.

  • Foreigner

    I’m going on memory here, as a quick search revealed nothing to the point, but I do recall seeing something on TV about TV being recorded onto discs in the early days … perhaps down to differences between US and UK broadcast systems?

  • The_L1985

    Ew. Ew ew ew. That is just 40 kinds of wrong.

  • Splitting Image

    Years ago I read about a man who was charged with molesting his daughter so frequently that she assumed it was normal. It wasn’t that she had consented (in any meaningful way), but that she was brought up to believe that sex was such a trivial thing to ask of her that she ought to consent automatically when someone asked her for it.

    No one had taught her that there were things she shouldn’t consent to. You can tell a child that when she (or he) gets older she can decide for herself what she will and won’t consent to, but she can’t really understand that unless you also teach her how to think about different activities.

    So while consent is a big part of it, kids also need to learn the physical and emotional risks associated with sex in order to make an informed decision about whether to consent to something.

  • spinetingler

     most actually lie down.

  • animus

    Doing it standing up might lead to dancing.


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