A Clash of Private Wills

A study of junior high students reveals some pretty startling facts about their dating etiquette. Half the youngsters said when a man pays for a date, he has a right to kiss the woman. A fifth said he has a right to sexual intercourse with her. Is this sexual liberation? When a man buys sex by buying dinner? When a concert ticket is a ticket to sex? And what if the woman thought the concert invitation was really just a concert invitation? A man who feels entitled to sex may end up using force. The result: date rape, currently one of the biggest issues on college campuses. Date rape is a tragedy. The victim is shamed and humiliated. She becomes the butt of cruel jokes in the fraternity houses. And the authorities are likely to cover it up to protect the school's reputation. Feminists are trying to change all that by drawing public attention to the problem. But they're ignoring the question at the heart of the issue. Namely, why is date rape happening? Why have social restraints broken down so completely that young men feel they have a right to sexual favors--even by force? The answer is in the old biblical principle: What you reap is what you sow. For years, our society has sown the seed of sexual permissiveness. Sex dominates movies, television, popular music. In some places, the first thing a young man receives when he enters high school is a package of condoms. A clear signal, from school authorities no less, that he's expected to be sexually active. And the old code of chivalry has been discredited. Remember the time when no man could claim to be civilized unless he showed courtesy and protectiveness toward women? Feminists denounced the old code as oppressive. But I wonder if women didn't prefer the so-called "oppressive" ideal of men opening doors for them to the new ideal some men have adopted in its place: That a real man takes whatever he can get sexually. That a real man doesn't take No for an answer. What feminists seem unable to understand is that the loss of the older code puts women at risk. To state the obvious, there are biological differences between the sexes. It's easier to assault a woman than a man. When moral and social constraints are lifted, it's women who become more vulnerable. Feminists say the solution to date rape is for men to respect women who say No. But that's not enough. The real problem is, sex has been stripped of its moral dimension. It's been reduced to a clash of personal desires. The man says "I want," the woman says "I don't want"--but they have no moral principles to support their decision, no common code of decency binding on them both. It's one private will pitted against the other. Add alcohol or drugs to the equation, and you have a classic set-up for date rape. America needs a recommitment to the idea that sex is more than a private choice. It's a moral issue. There are moral standards transcending what you or I may want at the moment. The 1960s sowed the slogans of free sex. Today we are reaping a harvest of forced sex. In sex as in politics, freedom without moral restraints leads to Might is Right.


Chuck Colson



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