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Consent’ is no justification

Letter to the Editor | Friday, November 17, 2006

After reading the articles on “Loyal Daughters” in Tuesday’s Observer (“‘Loyal Daughters’ draws hundreds” and “Professors, playwright discuss sexual assault”), I was disappointed to find that the real solution to the problem of sexual violence was not presented. However, Professor Gail Bederman did allude to it when she said, “[rape] happens far more often now … because of a different ‘alcohol culture … and sexual culture.'” This is the crux of the matter. Bederman admits that these harmful cultures are behind the increase in sexual assault.

So what is wrong with these cultures? In the Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul writes, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication … drunkenness, revellings and such like … they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (5:19-21). Thus, we believe that drunkenness and fornication (i.e. pre-marital sexual relations) are great offenses against God and kill His grace in our souls.

Obviously, then, these are the issues we ought to be fighting against. The problem with our hedonistic culture and its defenders is that they want to allow these vices among adults (and even minors) as long as they consent to them. According to the popular culture, pre-marital relations are permissible as long as those involved have made a free choice. However, this is a disordered view of sexuality which leads men and women to focus only on their own desires. Then, once the flames of desire and pleasure are allowed to have free rein, these restless souls are continually encouraged to fuel and satisfy them, and this leads to other vices (promiscuity, abortion, alcoholism, etc.), among which is sexual assault. To put it simply, evil only breeds more evil.

Therefore, the solution is not to encourage these vices among consenting adults, but to recognize them as evil and avoid them while properly ordering our natural desires. This is our Christian duty before God and the only way to truly prevent sexual violence. On the other hand, if you decide to play with fire, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get burned.

Jonathan Kaltenbach


Keough Hall

Nov. 16