Editor’s note: The following article, originally published in the March 2006 edition of Whistleblower magazine, was selected for top honors in the 2006 Amy Foundation Writing Awards program.
It was a bizarre and emotional courtroom scene, but one occurring with disturbing frequency these days. A popular middle school teacher, 43-year-old Pamela Diehl-Moore, had tearfully pleaded guilty to having sex with a child – a 13-year-old male student who had just completed 7th grade – and now stood before a Hackensack, N.J., judge awaiting sentencing.
And what would that sentence be? Considering all the intense media coverage of male sexual predators victimizing female children, one might expect a stiff prison term, accompanied by a withering rebuke.
But when New Jersey Superior Court Judge Bruce A. Gaeta opened his mouth, the words that came out did not express criticism of the teacher, nor acknowledge any damage she had done to her victim.
“I really don’t see the harm that was done here,” the judge proclaimed, “and certainly society doesn’t need to be worried. I do not believe she is a sexual predator. It’s just something between two people that clicked beyond the teacher-student relationship.”
“Clicked”? With a 13-year-old?
“Maybe it was a way for him, once this happened, to satisfy his sexual needs,” the judge added. “People mature at different rates.” Gee thanks, Judge.
According to court transcripts, Gaeta summed up his shocking judicial leniency this way: “I don’t see anything here that shows this young man has been psychologically damaged by her actions. And don’t forget, this was mutual consent. Now certainly under the law, he is too young to legally consent, but that’s what the law says. Some of the legislators should remember when they were that age. Maybe these ages have to be changed a little bit.”
Translation: The 43-year-old teacher didn’t really do anything wrong in having sex with a schoolboy, the kid wanted it, statutory rape laws are unrealistic and the age of consent should be lowered.
Oh, the sentence? Five years probation – no jail time.
In yet another recent court case, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten in Kansas also questioned whether sex with kids was really bad.
“Where is the clear, credible evidence that underage sex is always injurious? If you tell me because it is illegal, I reject that,” Marten said, according to the Associated Press.
Although most judges don’t publicly sing the praises of statutory rape like these two – indeed, Judge Gaeta later came under the scrutiny of a judicial fitness review board – many regular Americans apparently agree with them. A lot of us just don’t seem to think there’s much of a problem when female teachers have sex with their male students.
“What is the deal lately with hot female teachers seducing their 13- to 16-year-old students?!” asked one blogger expressing the prevalent “what’s-the-problem?” attitude: “I think the woman is getting off on the social taboo factor more than anything else. At least, that’s what the expert psychologists say. I just wish I had a teacher stupid enough and bored enough in my grade school to make my pubescent dreams come true. If it wasn’t illegal and there were no jilted husbands, it’s almost a victimless crime.”
And Bob Shoop, a Kansas State University education professor and expert witness in 30 court cases involving sexual abuse in schools, summed it up for the Associated Press this way: “I think our society sort of says to the boy: ‘Congratulations, that’s great. Everybody fantasizes about having a sexual relationship with an older woman.'”
As for the perpetrators themselves, often they just think they’re expressing love.
One of the most famous cases of a teacher-student sexual relationship is that of Mary Kay Letourneau, who, unlike Diehl-Moore, served seven years in prison for the statutory rape – or “child rape” as it is called in Washington – of a 13-year-old boy at the school where she taught. Four months after her 1997 arrest, Letourneau – 34 at the time and married with four children – gave birth to a daughter fathered by the boy, Vili Fualaau. Pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 89 months in prison, but her term was suspended except for six months in jail – and the requirement that she stay away from Vili after her release.
But no sooner was she let out – early, for good behavior – than Letourneau was discovered in a car with Fualaau and re-arrested. Incensed, the judge sent her straight to prison to serve out the rest of her seven-and-a-half year sentence.
While Letourneau was behind bars, however, in March 1998 prison officials discovered that she was pregnant with another child by Fualaau. The next year, she and the boy co-authored a book – released in France, but not the U.S. – titled “Un Seul Crime, L’amour” (“Only One Crime, Love”) – for which her attorney reportedly brokered Letourneau a $200,000 advance – and 2000 saw the release of her movie, “All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story.” She was also divorced from her husband Steve.
When Letourneau was finally paroled on Aug. 4, 2004, Fualaau, then 21, successfully petitioned the court to lift its no-contact order and the couple was married May 20, 2005 – with high-dollar tabloid TV cameras rolling.
The wedding invitations read: “Please join Mary and Vili for their special day. They hope to make this the best wedding experience for you. A luxurious touring bus will whisk you away to their wedding destination. Food and refreshments will be available for your bus ride. Please respect the need for privacy and know that pictures from the wedding will be available for the guests at a later date.”
In other words, leave your cameras at home, because we’re cashing in on our controversial wedding by selling exclusive video rights for a lot of money.
The 200 to 300 wedding guests reportedly went through identity checks and metal detectors, and signed secrecy and release-of-privacy statements due to the TV videotaping. The couple’s two daughters were the flower girls.
“Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” had exclusive rights to the wedding, with Seattle’s KING 5 News reporting the couple would earn around $750,000 for their wedding footage.
Today the couple, along with their two daughters, reportedly live off the high six-figure paycheck they received for selling their wedding video and reside in a beachfront home in a Seattle suburb.
‘Just being rebellious’
Sensational news stories of school teachers like Letourneau preying on students become a little more understandable when you realize the 1960s’ sexual revolution has advanced to the point that sex and school seem to go together these days.
In November, the Washington Post interviewed high school students in and around the nation’s capital:
Two students were discovered recently having sex in an Anne Arundel County high school gym. Four students at Col. Zadok Magruder High in Rockville were arrested in June after performing sex acts in the school parking lot. A boy and a girl at Springbrook High in Silver Spring were caught “touching inappropriately” in a school bathroom. Last year, three teenage boys at Mount Hebron High in Howard County were arrested after a student accused them of sexually assaulting her in a school restroom, but charges were dropped after the boys said the sex was consensual and the girl recanted.
“Students would have intercourse on the stairwells, locked classrooms, in the locker rooms,” said Ihsan Musawwir, 18, a recent graduate of Dunbar Senior High School in the District. “It was embarrassing for me to walk in on it.”
Jessica Miller, 19, who graduated in June from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, said that for some students there, sex on campus is a popular fantasy – and sometimes a reality – particularly in the auditorium.
“It’s so big, it’s so dark,” Miller said. “There’s a lot more places to find privacy – behind the stage and on the catwalk.”
But what’s the appeal? “Just being rebellious,” she said. “Coming back to class and saying, ‘Ooh, guess what I just did? I just had sex in the auditorium.’ ”
Cpl. Michael Rudinski, president of the Maryland Association of School Resource Officers, said teenagers do whatever they think their peers are doing, whether they are or not. “The thing about young people is when they see things in the mass media and they think it’s going on, they start doing it.”
Worse than Catholic clergy sex scandal?
In today’s sexually permissive school environment, just how prevalent is the teacher-student sex problem?
Get ready for a shock. According to a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education – the most in-depth investigation to date – nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees.
Titled “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature,” the report says the mistreatment of students ranges from sexual comments to rape. In fact, says the study’s author Charol Shakeshaft, professor of educational administration at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., the scope of the school-sex problem appears to far exceed the clergy-abuse scandal that has recently rocked the Roman Catholic Church.
Comparing the incidence of sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal, Shakeshaft notes that a recent study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded 10,667 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002.
In contrast, she extrapolates from a national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.
The figures suggest “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,” said Shakeshaft, according to Education Week.
Indeed, more than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade, says the report.
The National Education Association disputes Shakshaft’s conclusion, Education Week said, calling it “a misuse of the data to imply that public schools and the Catholic Church have experienced the same level of abuse cases.”
“I take great umbrage at that suggestion,” said NEA spokeswoman Kathleen Lyons. “That just seems like someone is reaching conclusions based on half the data that’s needed.”
Shakeshaft acknowledged many factors could alter the analysis, including undercounting of youth abused by priests, but she argued this provides impetus for better research.
“Educator sexual misconduct is woefully understudied,” Shakeshaft says in her report. “We have scant data on incidence and even less on descriptions of predators and targets. There are many questions that call for answers.”
Like all sexual predators, says Shakeshaft, “sexual abusers in schools use various strategies to trap students. They lie to them, isolate them, make them feel complicit, and manipulate them into sexual contact. Often teachers target vulnerable or marginal students who are grateful for the attention.”
The report draws a clear distinction between true pedophiles – that is, adults who target pre-pubescent children – and those who criminally seduce pubescent but underage youngsters. “The abusers of children younger than seventh grade have different patterns than those who abuse older children,” she says, making a disturbing but familiar point about pedophiles’ modus operandi:
The educators who target elementary school children are often professionally accomplished and even celebrated. Particularly compared to their non-abusing counterparts, they hold a disproportionate number of awards. It is common to find that educators who have been sexually abusing children are also the same educators who display on their walls a community “Excellence in Teaching” award or a “Teacher of the Year” certificate. This popularity confounds district officials and community members and prompts them to ignore allegations on the belief that “outstanding teachers” cannot be abusers. Many educators who abuse work at being recognized as good professionals in order to be able to sexually abuse children. For them, being a good educator is the path to children, especially those who abuse elementary and younger middle school students.
In contrast, she notes:
At the late middle and high school level, educator abusers may or may not be outstanding practitioners. At this level, the initial acts are somewhat less premeditated and planned and more often opportunistic, a result of bad judgment or a misplaced sense of privilege.
Shakeshaft gives a chilling description of the various techniques of “grooming” – a practice common to virtually all child molesters. Grooming, she explains, is a process whereby …
an abuser selects a student, gives the student attention and rewards, provides the student with support and understanding, all the while slowly increasing the amount of touch or other sexual behavior. The purpose of grooming is to test the child’s ability to maintain secrecy, to desensitize the child through progressive sexual behaviors, to provide the child with experiences that are valuable and that the child won’t want to lose, to learn information that will discredit the child, and to gain approval from parents.
Grooming allows the abuser to test the student’s silence at each step. It also serves to implicate the student, resulting in children believing that they are responsible for their own abuse because “I never said stop.”
Grooming often takes place in the context of providing a child with extras like additional help learning a musical instrument, advisement on a science project, or opportunities for camping and outdoor activity. These opportunities not only create a special relationship with students, they are also ones for which parents are usually appreciative.
Most sexual molesters work very hard to keep their victims from telling others. This is not as hard for the perpetrator to accomplish as it may seem. For one thing, children who are sexually abused by teachers often don’t recognize what is happening as abuse. “In many cases,” says the report, “they are told that what is happening is love. Many abusers of children at all ages couch what they are doing to the children as love, both romantic and parental.”
Other techniques for keeping children quiet, says Shakeshaft, are “intimidation and threats (if you tell, I’ll fail you),” “exploiting the power structure (if you tell, no one will believe you)” and “manipulating the child’s affections (if you tell, I’ll get in trouble; if you tell, I won’t be able to be your friend anymore).” Since kids typically get something out of the relationship – everything from attention and gifts to physical pleasure and a feeling of belonging – they can easily be made to feel responsible, something offenders use to their advantage.
But what happens when, despite the powerful manipulation of their minds and feelings by the sexual predator, children actually do go to authorities?
In many cases, says the federally funded report, they are just not believed: “Because of the power differential, the reputation difference between the educator and the child, or the mindset that children are untruthful, many reports by children are ignored or given minimal attention.”
Several studies estimate that only about 6 percent of all children report sexual abuse by an adult to someone who can do something about it. Indeed, fear of not being believed is the No. 1 reason kids don’t report their sexual victimization at the hands of adults.
Shakeshaft cites the case of one teacher, Kenneth DeLuca, who was convicted of sexually abusing 13 students between the ages of 10 and 18 over a period of 21 years. Although nearly all of the students reported the abuse at the time it was occurring, school officials ignored the accusations. “Overwhelmingly, the girls experienced a disastrous response when they told about DeLuca’s behavior,” said the report. “Many were disbelieved, some were told to leave schools, parents were allegedly threatened with lawsuits.”
Even more shocking, Shakeshaft’s report documents that offending teachers have frequently gotten off virtually scot-free even when their sexual misdeed are exposed to school administrators.
- In one study of 225 cases of teacher sex abuse in New York, although all the accused had admitted to sexually abusing a student, not one was reported to the police and only 1 percent lost their license to teach.
- A 2003 study reports that 159 Washington state coaches were “reprimanded, warned, or let go in the past decade because of sexual misconduct” – and yet, “at least 98 of them continued coaching or teaching afterward.”
- A 2004 study reports that many school districts make confidential agreements with abusers, essentially trading a positive recommendation for a resignation. In one case, a Seattle educator named Luke Markishtum “had two decades of complaints of sex with students and providing alcohol and marijuana to students prior to his arrest for smuggling six tons of marijuana into the state. The district paid Markishtum the remainder of his salary that year, agreed to keep the record secret, and gave him an additional $69,000.”
Recently, there has been a seeming explosion in a special type of teacher sexual abuse – female teachers having sex with underage teenage boys, who as a rule are willing participants in the sex.
“Generally the male doesn’t feel victimized,” said Steven B. Blum, a consulting psychologist to a sex offender program in Nebraska. “A lot of teenage boys would see that as their lucky day,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Lucky day? What about the next day, and the next year and beyond? Experts say sexually victimized boys experience later difficulty in developing age-appropriate relationships and gravitate toward pornography and one-night stands. They are also more likely as adults to suffer depression, anxiety and drug addiction.
The 16-year-old victim of Margaret De Barraicua, a 30-year-old California teacher who pleaded guilty to four counts of statutory rape, did not consider it his “lucky day.”
“I’m not the same boy,” the boy said in a letter read in court in Sacramento. “At school I became the center of attention. Everyone knew my name.” But the boy was so traumatized, his mother wrote in a letter read in court, that “his hair is falling out.”
And the father of a Colorado boy molested by Silvia Johnson – who held drug-alcohol-and-sex parties at her home with teenaged schoolboys to be “cool” – told the court the 40-year-old woman “took away my best friend, my hunting buddy. I can’t have him back now. He is gone.”
Many theories and factors are advanced to explain the major upsurge in illegal teacher-student sexual relationships, including:
- Two-breadwinner families mean children have more unsupervised time to be preyed upon.
- Cell-phone technology, text messaging and e-mail afford opportunities for teachers and students to communicate privately that didn’t exist a generation ago.
- The explosion of hardcore pornography, especially online, has resulted in the exposure of children to graphic sexual images to a far greater degree than at any time in history.
But overshadowing virtually all explanations for adult-child sex is the simple fact that the perpetrators – and in the case of female offenders having sex with underage boys, the victims as well – often don’t think there is anything wrong with what they are doing.
Essentially, the rationale is: Consensual sex doesn’t kill, injure or rob anyone, so where’s the victim? Why is “love” (remember Letourneau’s book, “Only One Crime, Love”) even a crime at all?
How did we get to the point that so many of us – including even some of our judges – just don’t see anything wrong with adults having “consensual” sex with children?
To truly answer that question, we’re going to have to venture beyond the boundaries of conventional journalism – beyond the presentation of facts, examples, studies, statistics, theories and comments from experts. Journalism can do an excellent job of describing the symptoms of this problem – but can never arrive at its cause, or cure.
Are you ready for a ride into new territory?
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis
In “Prince Caspian,” C.S. Lewis’ second “Narnia” book (currently being made into a feature film following the roaring success of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” set for release in December 2007), the story unfolds in a latter-day, secular time, much like our own today.
In that story’s “modern” era, most, though definitely not all, of the people had forgotten about the magic, miracles and mirth that were everpresent during Narnia’s golden age, forgotten about the existence of the talking animals, indeed forgotten about Aslan the king himself.
The contemporary elite came to regard the beliefs and loyalties that once had been the very heartbeat of Narnian existence as nothing more than pernicious fables clung to by their ignorant, superstitious ancestors. Even the mention of the sacred things of the past was now forbidden by the murderous usurper, King Miraz, since merely speaking of such powerful truths posed a grave threat to his rule.
That is America today. In what was once the finest and most robust expression of Western Judeo-Christian civilization and the core values underlying it, most of us, too, have forgotten.
Forgotten the founding spiritual and moral values of our nation and culture.
Forgotten the simple, intuitive understanding of right and wrong that we grasped effortlessly when we were innocent children, but which we were later intimidated or seduced into doubting – and abandoning.
Forgotten the core truth about man’s condition – that he is in reality a “fallen” being, “born in sin,” and that his sexual urges must be channeled into marriage.
Freeze. Notice how, for many readers, that last sentence made you wince, if not recoil in horror. “Fallen being”? “Born in sin”? Man, where’s this guy coming from? Does he really believe that ancient religious mumbo jumbo?
That, my friends, is exactly the “forgetfulness” of self-evident “truth we all once knew” that I’m talking about.
This basic truth that human beings are fallen and corruptible – a reality not only spelled out in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but also clearly evident from observing everyday life – this truth about man’s condition which is at the very core of our legal system and the very reason for limited government (“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”) – is now embarrassing to us.
For most people alive today, this Christian worldview, which animated Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims and the founding fathers in the profoundest possible way, is just a fairy tale, an embarrassing anachronism, perhaps even “the source of most of humankind’s strife and war.”
We’re living in latter-day Narnia, where we mock and deny the “old truths” that, unknown to us, still form the very substance of everything valuable we possess today.
Very simply, we’ve forgotten what we as human beings actually are, and why we have been put here on this beautiful blue globe we call earth. We’ve forgotten that we’re here to serve a much higher purpose than just fulfilling our own desires.
We’ve become like Martians who, arriving on Earth for the first time encounter a Ford Mustang convertible. Not having any idea what it is or its maker’s intended use, the Martians mistakenly conclude it must be a hot tub and proceed to fill it with water and bathe in it. And then – when you come along and tell them they’re ruining this valuable car by their misuse of it, they become angry and accuse you of attempting to deny them their rightful pleasure.
What does this have to do with sex? Without the understanding of our spiritual origin and destiny – of who we are and what purpose our maker intended for us – we can’t possibly understand sex and its intended role in our lives. Instead, all we have driving us are the desires, physical and emotional “needs,” cravings and compulsions we find welling up from within us.
Sometimes these desires are normal, the kind of sexual attraction to the opposite gender God ordained, leading to bonding and marriage and children. But for some of us, our sexual cravings are rooted in trauma – that is, generated from our emotional reactions to the cruelty, confusion and seduction we’ve experienced along the path of life. Remember, pain causes us to seek the relief of pleasure.
For example, let’s take Mary Kay Letourneau’s sexual attraction to a 13-year-old boy. What could have caused it?
Do you suppose it could have anything to do with the fact that her husband Steve was a serial cheater? Or that her father, ultraconservative U.S. Congressman John Schmitz, was exposed for having a secret affair with a former student? Do you think a young girl’s deep resentment over both a hypocritical and cheating father, and later on, over an angry, cheating, betraying husband, could possibly give rise to a forbidden attraction? An attraction based not only on sex, but also on her being worshiped and idolized by a young, relatively innocent, non-threatening male (after years of betrayal by “adult” males). No doubt all this was intoxicating to Mary Kay. Intoxicating and toxic.
In a world with a little more understanding and real love in it, a person like Mary Kay could perhaps be helped. But in our secular, mechanistic world, there is precious little real understanding of what makes people “tick” and thus not much help for troubled people like this.
Yet, an even more important factor in this sexual-predator epidemic is the fact that “right” and “wrong” just aren’t real to most of us any more. Even if Letourneau was attracted sexually to a child, for whatever reasons, it’s still wrong to have sex with a 13-year-old. And knowing something is wrong is enough reason not to do it – even if part of us wants to.
After all, most people have strong drives and urges. Even normal, red-blooded men, loyal to their wives and children, have powerful sexual drives that, if followed down the rabbit hole without regard to right and wrong, could easily turn them into adulterers.
The problem is, having turned our backs on Judeo-Christian morality and the inner conscience that testifies to it, many of us rely on emotional feelings alone to guide our way through life.
So, if childhood problems cause us to grow up feeling uncomfortable as a man (or a woman), instead of looking within for understanding and healing, we undergo barbaric sex-change operations and “hormone therapy” and pretend we’re the opposite gender for the rest of our lives.
If we feel badly about having an unintended child growing inside us, instead of looking for a moral and life-affirming solution, we kill the child.
If we feel sexually attracted to the same gender, we convince ourselves this uprush of inner feeling – rooted in something-gone-wrong in our formative years – is actually genetic, or God-ordained, or the expression of who we “really” are. And then we spend our lives trying to satisfy these inner cravings in the vain hope of finding completion and ultimate happiness.
Of course, choosing what’s moral, principled and self-sacrificial over our selfish or unreasonable feelings – that is, preferring something noble and higher over something ignoble and lower – implies there is a God, the source of the higher, as well as evil, the source of the lower.
But according to today’s secular, de facto atheistic worldview, there is no good or evil, no heaven or hell. Rather, we’re all regarded as just highly evolved animals. But if that’s true, there is just no logical reason adults shouldn’t be able to have sex with children or whatever else they please.
To illustrate the difference between humans and animals, let me mention that my children raise goats as a hobby. They have a male goat to breed with the various females. Although the buck is just a few months old, it readily mates with the various females – old, young, big, small, it doesn’t matter. They come into heat, and he does his job. Everything’s as it should be.
Now, if that is all humans are – animals – then we too should all be able to walk around having sex with anyone we want, just like goats. In fact, why can’t we go around naked – like goats? Can you imagine what would happen if we all went to work, school and supermarket stark naked?
Some people, wrongly believing mankind’s universal embarrassment over their private parts (yes, “universal” – even in darkest Africa the natives wear loin-cloths) represents an unhealthy shame toward their own bodies, embrace nudity as a philosophy and lifestyle. But they have misinterpreted the embarrassment and abandoned a core truth, namely: The fact that humans have embarrassment over sex and need to keep themselves covered all the time is not some repressive Victorian hang-up over sex. Rather, it is evidence – a very important and powerful clue, and one we better interpret correctly – that our sexual nature somehow is tied in with our – gasp! – fallen “animal” nature.
You see, the truth is, we’re not just animals, like goats. We have two natures – an animal nature that eats and procreates, and a spiritual, eternal soul that survives this life.
If we were only animals, then this article would be over and all the concerns expressed earlier about sexual predators would be wrongheaded, the prosecutions unjust, the incarcerations cruel, the stigma undeserved. If we are only animals, there is simply nothing at all wrong with 43-year-old teachers having sex with their 13-year-old students, as long as it is “consensual.”
Moreover, if we are just animals, then all consensual sexual activity – any place, any time, any type – is fine, just like with my children’s goats.
In that case, of course, when we die we just get buried in the ground and that’s the end of us. No afterlife, no soul or consciousness surviving the dissolution of our bodies, no ultimate standard of right and wrong, and no ultimate accountability before the Creator for the way we’ve lived our lives. Just a nice meal for worms.
Is that what you believe? Many people do. That’s what ex-Beatle John Lennon was preaching in his New Age anthem: “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky.”
For many, this all-consuming obsession with denying God, Judeo-Christian values and our own immortal souls centers around one thing only. Do you know what it is? Do you know what most of the hostility we see toward Christianity in today’s culture is actually based on? It’s not because following Jesus Christ means we must love one another, feed the poor or comfort the sick. After all, no one is threatened by those things. Rather, at the root of so much loathing toward Christianity and the Bible is what they have to say about sex.
The Old Testament book of Leviticus, for instance, is full of detailed laws and prohibitions regarding sexuality and sexual behavior. Why is this so? What on earth did sexual behavior have to do with God setting the House of Israel apart from the rest of the pagan world so it could be worthy of His special blessing and destiny?
“Why can’t we all just be nice to each other,” you might wonder, “and have as much sex as we want, with whomever we want, whenever and however we want, as long as it’s consensual? And why can’t we call that good, righteous and loving?”
Very simply, how do we know sex outside of marriage – whether it be adultery or premarital sex or homosexuality or teachers seducing kids – is wrong, a sin before God and an offense to our fellow human beings?
For one thing, God has provided some major clues for us, the obvious implications of which we somehow manage to ignore – just like the elephant in the parlor.
For some, the most persuasive clues are in the Bible. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are unequivocal and total in their condemnation of homosexual sex, of fornication (a term rarely used any more), of adultery. Jesus raises the bar the highest when He says: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28 KJV).”
But the Bible is not the only clue. As I tell my kids, biblical truths are reflected in everyday life. So, stealing and murder and lying aren’t wrong just because the Bible says so. Rather, the Bible says stealing and murder and lying are wrong because they are wrong. They were always wrong – and the Bible testifies to that timeless Truth that predates the Bible itself. (Remember, in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s time there was no Bible.)
Thus, the wrongness of sexual immorality should also be as self-evident as the wrongness of stealing or murder.
What? You say you can see that stealing, lying and murder are wrong because they result in victims, but you can’t see that premarital or homosexual sex is wrong because you can’t see the victim?
Let’s look at a few more clues.
Here’s a stunningly obvious one: Sex has the potential to produce offspring. And since the evidence is irrefutable that children need both a father and a mother, as well as a stable, long-term, loving home life, this one clue alone leads inexorably to the conclusion that sex is meant only for a committed heterosexual marriage.
Another clue: A ghoulish smorgasbord of sexually transmitted diseases – many incurable, like AIDS, herpes and human papilloma virus (thought to be one of the main causes of cervical cancer), as well as hepatitis, syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea and a host of others – is a pretty darn good indicator that we weren’t meant to have wanton, rampant sex.
Still another clue: Millions of dead babies – over a million a year just in the U.S. Recent news reports document that in Zimbabwe dead babies clog up the sewers in the capital of Harare, so many are flushed down toilets and dumped in drains. Getting pregnant when we don’t want children tempts us to kill our offspring.
Let’s stop for a minute and ask: Just how obvious do clues need to be before we figure out the message? Horrible plagues and millions of unwanted babies seem like pretty good indicators that God didn’t intend for us to use our bodies the way many of us do. And yet, in our cleverness we find ways to circumvent these divine roadblocks by way of artificial birth control, abortion, alternative sexual acts and so on. But we’re still just making an absurd end-run around God and His obvious restrictions on sex.
Another way we know extramarital sex is wrong is simply because it’s pure selfishness and self-gratification. In marriage, there is commitment, sacrifice, self-control, personal growth, mutual respect. In non-married sex there is nothing but use – using the other person in an attempt to fulfill ourselves. Without commitment, there cannot be love. Sorry, the truth hurts.
The Bible admonishes us mortals to choose sides, between life and death, between good and evil. Most often, that choice takes the form of choosing to side with our higher nature against our own lower nature. Satanism and other worldviews based on deception and seduction have always taught the opposite: Side with your lower nature against your higher nature, a conflict Satanists (and yes, they exist) blame on a vengeful, capricious and cruel God (“Why did he create us with all these powerful urges and drives, only to forbid their expression?”)
In our culture today – like latter-day Narnia – the prevailing mindset is, increasingly, to mock and demonize those who rebuke our growing infatuation with our lower nature.
At the center of this struggle is sex – one of the greatest mysteries of life. If we never understand sex, we never understand life. For many of us, unfortunately, our understanding has been hijacked by the 1960s cultural and sexual revolution, which was based on lies.
Yes, lies. The sexual revolution glorified the destruction of Judeo-Christian civilization and the morality at its core. Like all revolutions, it seemed sweet at the time. Do you remember?
It seemed so promising, so genuine, so liberating. Boomers will remember 1967’s “Summer of Love” in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. A hundred thousand young “flower people” flocked to the West Coast mecca of the hippie revolution. Scott McKenzie sang, “If you’re going to San Francisco, Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. If you’re going to San Francisco, You’re gonna meet some gentle people there.” Free love and expanded consciousness (with the help of marijuana and LSD) would save our nation from the ravages of war and the greedy materialism that led to conflict. It was beautiful, otherworldly – or so it seemed.
But somehow, just a few short years later, the flowers had faded and Haight-Ashbury was transformed into a scene of crazed, meth-addicted hippies with human degradation and venereal disease and crime everywhere. Already, the toxicity of the ’60s revolution was becoming apparent. Today, that cancer has metastasized throughout our culture to the point that children have sex in the school auditorium.
Funny thing about lie-based revolutions. They all turn out bad. Communist revolutions promise freedom and equality, but deliver despotism and misery and death. In the exact same way, the sexual liberation movement, which offered freedom, equality, self-fulfillment and pleasure, has just about destroyed America.
So, where do we go from here? Quo vadis?
If we just go along with whatever compulsions and drives we see rising up in us, and wallow in them, and justify them, and condemn anybody who says otherwise, we’re living as animals, not humans.
And believe me, that’s not truly living. Unless, of course, you’re a goat.