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Age of Consent November 18, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Deep.

The other day I received an email from 4mycanada, a ministry dedicated to raising awareness among youth about the issues in our land and encouraging them to take a stand for righteousness. They were letting their email network know about a debate that had occurred on a TV show called ‘The Verdict’ over the proposed legislation to raise the age of consent for sexual activity to 16 instead of where it currently stands at 14. They had actually been contacted by the show to recommend some young people who represent the side that is in favor of this change. They were thrilled to have this opportunity to have young people stand for righteousness on national TV and encouraged us all to watch the archives.So I did. It was very interesting to listen to the different parties argue their opinions. The young people were only one segment of the entire show so my comments below in no way reflect my opinion of what 4mycanada is doing or the stand that they are taking. I really admire how they are rallying a generation to stand for righteousness.

However, I get really frustrated when I watch debates where those who are supposedly standing for what’s right and good come across as totally uniformed and unable to think about the ramifications of what they are standing for in order to adequately address the concerns of those whom they are debating. All too often, I see those who are advocating what would stereotypically be the Christian position, resort to simply stating their position over and over again with slightly different wording but never actually adding any new information and then getting angry when people aren’t convinced by this vain repetition.

Those who were arguing for raising the age of consent kept saying that we needed this adjustment of the law to protect kids. They kept bringing up the various atrocities committed by predators who have exploited children. This sounds good, but was merely preaching to the choir. No one there was against protecting kids. Everyone there was appalled by the stories of injustice involving sexual predators and teenagers. But those arguing for this change were unable to answer some of the legitimate concerns that were brought up by those who were arguing against it.

For example, if we change the age of consent law to 16, then a 15 year old having sex with his/her 21 year old boyfriend or girlfriend could find that partner prosecuted and jailed if the nature of their relationship was discovered (any difference in age less than 5 years is exempt from this law). Sure, in an ideal world, 14 and 15 year olds wouldn’t be having sex in the first place, but in our day and age, this is not an implausible scenario. With the raising of the age of consent, we force all such relationships to go underground preventing the young people involved in them from reaching out for help when they need it.

I agree that a 35 year old predator should not be able to manipulate or force a 14 or 15 year old into having sex with them and then get away with it because they can somehow demonstrate that the teenager consented. However, I don’t think such predators should be able to manipulate a 16, 18, 21 or even 25 year old into supposedly consenting to have sex with them but then taking it further than that teenager or young adult desired to go. Likewise I don’t think an overbearing 19 year old should be allowed to force a timid 16 year old into having sex and get away with it just because they are close enough in age. But simply continuing to raise the age of consent isn’t going to help in any of these cases.

As those advocating against the raising of the age of consent explained, there are rules in place to prevent exploitation of people at any age. No, they don’t always work well, but its these laws that need to be strengthened. Raising the age of consent is only a bandaid solution which will in turn create other negative ramifications that no one is currently even acknowledging, let alone prepared to deal with.

Unfortunately, none of those advocating for what seems to be the position more in line with Christian morals even acknowledged the legitimacy of these people’s concerns nor proposed how the new legislation would bring about good without introducing any additional bad. They kept going back to their original statements that this change in the law was for protecting kids and became exasperated when asked to address the complexities of the issue.

I found myself actually convinced by those advocating against this change in the age of consent. I also found myself once again saddened by the display of those who are supposedly standing for righteousness. If we can’t learn to grapple with the issues and legitimately address the complex concerns of our society today, we are going to continue to lose credibility.

Sorry, 4mycanada, I wasn’t as excited about this opportunity you had to be on national TV as you were. We’ve got a long way to go before our voice is truly heard – even a long way to go before our voice should be heard.



1. patti - November 21, 2007

Wow. Well-said.

And ouch.

You said, “No one there was against protecting kids.”

Good statement. I remember reading (somewhere??) once an article on the pro-life / pro-choice abortion issue. And there was a statement made, wondering if there was any way that both sides could ever work together, because BOTH SIDES would like to see less women in a place of crisis, where they need to consider abortions. From at least one viewpoint – BOTH SIDES would like to see less abortions.

I think you’re right – sometimes we lose credibility, by not acknowledging the “other side’s” valid concerns.

2. Hamameliss - December 2, 2007

I have to agree with you, I feel the same way on many, many, many issues. Sometimes, you have to decide whether you are willing to compromise on the absolute values that you would like to espouse in order to mitigate harm. Sure, the best thing would be for sex to be mutually consentual and with only one partner, or even better abstinence until marriage. But, would you refuse to give people information about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted illnesses in order to prevent talking to them about sex or trying to show that there are ways to have it more safely? Or, are we just going to stand on a box and reiterate that they only way is abstinence?

3. Idetrorce - December 15, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

4. Claude - December 23, 2007

With our kids growing so fast and having less and less parental supervision, it’s a miracle that there are no more pregnancies.

5. Claude - December 23, 2007

No one interested here? Gone fishing then

6. myncspisp - December 11, 2009

Various of people talk about this issue but you wrote down really true words!!

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