Twenty Minutes of Action

Is rape really a big deal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A lot of people are talking about a news story of a Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault. What has made it even more noteworthy is that the father of the boy has come forward and written a letter that people are just outraged by. For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume that the boy is indeed guilty and the girl really was raped by him. Sometimes, new evidence comes out later that shows otherwise but from what I gather, the evidence we have is convicting enough. Of course, even if I am wrong, what I say on rape will still stand regardless of this particular.

So according to what I’ve read, the girl goes to a party and has a little too much to drink. To be fair, that part is on her. This is why you need to be careful with your alcohol at a party, especially a college party. In fact, the victim has said that this was something she owns up to, but that does not mean that someone was justified in taking advantage of her in a state where she was entirely vulnerable. Much of this she says in a letter that she has written.

What has amazed people is that the offender has been given a light sentence of six months and then three years of probation because of the judge’s worry about what a stiffer sentence would to him. Yes. We must worry about the psychological well-being of someone who takes advantage of an innocent woman instead of remembering that the law is in place not to cater to our feelings, but to dispense justice.

What has been more astounding has been that the father has sent a letter. In it, he spoke about what his son and dreamed about and worked to achieve and asked for probation. He reportedly said “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

That statement just sticks out to me. 20 minutes of action. What are we talking about?

A lot can happen in 20 minutes. A man could pick up a gun and go and murder his neighbor in a 20 minute time-frame. A shooting spree can take place at a public place in 20 minutes. A photo taken wrongfully of a young woman in a position she would not want to be seen in can be shared all over the internet in 20 minutes. A good thief can break into your house and steal your valuables and be out in 20 minutes.

Can some greater evils take more time? Yes. They can. Some greater evils can take less time. The time has nothing to do with it. If it did, then I would want to ask this Dad how much time should have been spent in this action before it would be worthy of more jail time?

Now let’s look at the other part. Action. Twenty minutes of action. Really? Is that what you call it? Taking a girl out back behind a dumpster and raping her on the ground so much so that bystanders rightfully consider it an attack is referred to as just actions? Now to be sure, of course it’s an action. Yet it is not just an action. It’s an attempt to downplay it.

To give a different standard, suppose my wife and I engaged in some love-making that took twenty minutes and for us was entirely mutual and self-giving. Is that twenty minutes of action? Sure, but it is not just action. It is something incredible and wonderful.

I find it amazing that as a Christian, I’m often thought to have a negative attitude towards sex. I am seen as a prude who thinks that sex is this big dirty thing. I just want to control everyone’s sex lives.

Okay. Let’s start off. What is my view of sex? Sex is one word that I really use the word “magical” to describe and I hesitate to use that term. It’s just I can’t think of anything else. When I talk to young men about to get married and ask them if they think they know about what they’re getting into and they say yes, I tell them they don’t have a clue. They don’t know what a sexual relationship does to someone. Once Pandora’s Box has opened, it can never be shut again. Nothing is ever the same.

Like many Christian couples, my wife and I waited until we got married to have sex. I don’t regret that decision. In fact, I encourage every couple to go that route. I encourage it because of the awesome action that sex is. Sex is something that intimately bonds you to another person.

The thing about sex is that when it comes to the marriage act as it is called, you are really giving yourself to another person in the most vulnerable action possible. This is done willingly. You tell the person that you trust them entirely. You desire them entirely. You want nothing to come between the two of you.

One of the designs of the activity is to bond the husband and wife to each other. Sex is a bonding activity and you cannot choose for it to not be. That’s what happens. That’s why a husband’s love for his wife can shoot up even more after they have sex together and vice-versa.

Sex outside of marriage can no doubt be intended to be a message of love, but it can also be a message of testing. We often hear this with “Would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive?” Someone who says this misses the point and is thinking in a way sadly similar to this father. It is to dehumanize the person.

You see, you can’t have sex with another person and have it have no affect on them for better or for worse. If you take a car for a test drive and you don’t like it, the car will not be thinking about what you did. The car will not stay in the lot wondering why it wasn’t chosen. The car will not go into therapy hoping to learn how to improve itself so it will be wanted next time. The car doesn’t know or care. A person is not a car. When someone tells me they wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, I just ask which one of them is the driver and which one is the car.

Do you really want to have your relationship work like that? What would it mean if you were not pleased sexually with the person you were dating? That they would be out? How can a person be truly giving themselves to you then in selfless love if they know somewhere that they are being tested? If they do not perform adequately, then they are out. If that is not your stance, then why do you need a “test drive”? A test drive implies someone could pass or fail the test.

If you wait until marriage, there is no pressure. Of course, both partners still want to please the other, but your relationship is not on the line. You are not going to end it because of how things go. In fact, this is really important because contrary to what you see in the movies, sex is something that improves over time as you get to know the person and your bodies get used to each other more and you learn what you like and don’t like.

Theologian R.C. Sproul in a book I saw several years ago talked about going to see his family a few weeks after his marriage or so. I do not remember how long exactly except that it was early and I don’t remember if it was his family or hers. Anyway, he talked to an older uncle there who asked how he “liked it.” Sproul said it was terrific. This uncle then said that he didn’t know the half of it. Sproul said he didn’t know what this old codger knew that he didn’t already know. Years later, he said he started realizing it.

The good thing about the covenant is you have the rest of your lives to improve, and you will improve. The more the self-giving and desire keeps going on, the better the relationship improves. This is not a test. It is something beautiful.

Unfortunately, some people can steal this away before its time. It tells me in the case of a man raping a woman (And to be fair, women can rape men too.) that the man is really not a man. If you want to have a woman, you need to do the work for that privilege. Be a real man for her.

This is the part the women can really change in the culture. For the most part, men are usually the most aggressive ones with sex. We are the go-getters. If we consider who is in charge of an economy, who is it? Is it the buyers or the sellers. Does the buyer determine the price of an item, or the one who gives the item? It is the latter.

So ladies, when it comes to sex, you are deciding how much a guy has to give you before you will give him yourself entirely. Is  it dinner and a movie? Is it three dates? Is it a month? 6 months? Engagement? Or is it marriage? I recommend you go with the final one. Go with marriage. You tell a man he has to make a covenant with you that he loves you and you alone and is not going to ever leave or abandon you before you give him all of you.

Our culture has that backwards. It’s been said that the great temptation when a couple is dating is to look for any excuse to have sex. When they are married, the great temptation is to look for any excuse not to have sex. It is a shame that unmarried people look to have more sex than married people. It’s one reason people view sex as dry and stale. If the church wants to see the world honor marriage, we have to lead by example, and one of that is not just having a marriage, but doing marriage well, including sex.

As wrong as I think having sex outside of marriage is, having rape is worse. This is where we get to the analogous part to buying a car. Rape is the ultimate way of treating someone (And I’m going to presume a woman for the most part) like an object. It is not looking at the person as a human being, but looking at them as a tool of sexuality. You don’t really care about them so much as getting your kicks.

Can that happen in twenty minutes? Yep. Men will do the most incredible mind-blowing things in order to get sex. Consider for instance this favorite clip of mine from the Family Feud.

If you want to see more of this, just consider looking up vines on YouTube, which I generally hate as a rule, about the topic of “But I’m home alone.” In each case, the girl calls her boyfriend wanting him to do something and he says no only to be told “But I’m home alone” and then no task is too much. That doesn’t just change for boyfriends. It happens in marriage as well.

What I want to establish with that is that yes, sometimes the passions can easily take over. That’s why men need to develop self-control as much as they can. This boy might have wanted to be a great swimmer, and he could still do that, but at this moment, he wanted something else more. He was willing to do whatever it took to get it, and he made the choice.

We are often told with abortion that consenting to sex does not mean consenting to pregnancy. In fact, it does. You remain open to that even with the best contraception because nothing is foolproof save vasectomies and hysterectomies. In life, you can choose your actions, but you can’t choose your consequences.

Some consequences you will have little control over. If you look both ways before crossing the street and someone comes flying around a corner and hits you, you have no control over that. If a child of yours gets cancer through no fault of medical lack on your own, you have no control over that. The sad part is we spend a lot of time crying about things we do have control over if we will do something different and that is to change our behavior. This isn’t a light switch that turns off and on, but if we want to do it, we will have to do the work for it.

So let’s get back to the action that we’re talking about. Rape is in fact stealing. It is a form of theft and dishonoring and the shaming and dehumanizing of a person. While the father is talking about the consequences for his son, let’s think about the consequences for the woman. In fact, she hasn’t gone far enough. She’s not the only one affected.

When we start with her, she is saying now she sleeps with a light on and she wants to have protection with her always. Now, she will be tempted to look at every man with suspicion. One guy at a party seemed innocent enough, but maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s just like every other man. (Because now built in is an idea that all men are like this.) Maybe all men are just predators. (We have an idea even in Christian circles that because men think about sex so much that all men are perverts. Not true.)

I don’t know about this woman’s boyfriend. I don’t know if they were sexually active together or not, but so far it looks like he’s been a very honorable man. He’s going to pay for the sins of this other man. She’s going to have to learn to trust him. He will be held responsible for their sins and he will not be able to repent for he cannot repent of a sin he has not committed.

If she breaks up with him, any future man will be seen with suspicion. The root reason is that this woman has been violated. She has been treated as an object. She is not some inflatable blow-up doll. She is a person. She is someone who lives and breathes and has thoughts and feelings like most everyone else. To treat her as less than a person is to dehumanize her. (Which always men in marriage as well, make sure you don’t treat your wife as an object or someone just there to satisfy your desires. You are to care for her as well.)

In the end of this woman’s letter, she does say the story isn’t over for this man. She’s right. He will be a registered sex offender, but he can change. He can learn from this action and overcome it. (I have no desire to call it a mistake. A mistake is locking yourself out of your car. Raping a woman is not a mistake. It’s a deliberate wrongful action.)

The story is not over for this woman either. As a Christian, I would first listen to her. I would hear her cry. (Note I would honestly prefer to have my wife do this. As someone in ministry I try to avoid counseling women apart from her.) I would let her express any painful emotions she’s feeling.

Then, after all that was done, i would tell her about Christ and how she can be made a new creation. No. Her past is not undone, but she doesn’t have to be a victim to it any longer. No. It’s not guaranteed to be immediate, but she does not have to be alone and she never will be truly alone. I would be able to assure her that as awful as this event was, the God of creation can take it and use what was intended for evil for good. In fact, this is already starting to happen as she’s apparently speaking to try to raise awareness of this danger so other women don’t have to undergo it.

All in all, this whole story shows how our culture really does not understand sex. Someone once said the problem with our culture is we think too much about sex. It isn’t. The problem is that we think too little. We dream about sex, fantasize about it, make TV shows and movies of it, talk about it, just plain do it, but we don’t think about it. We don’t sit down and ask about what sex really is and what it means when we do it and why that is so important and why it shouldn’t be taken so lightly.

If we don’t think about it, then we are just as guilty of treating sex as just an action. It’s just something you do for fun together with no long range consequences. It is just a way of expressing love. No. Sex is in its own unique category. It stands apart from everything else.

That’s in fact why we Christians have such boundaries about sex. We put boundaries around it for the same reason we put our valuables in a safety-deposit box and not our garbage. Sex is valuable and we don’t want to mistreat it or misuse it. I compare it to nuclear energy. It’s wonderful and very efficient when used in the right time and place and circumstances. If you do it wrong, you get Chernobyl.

I hope that all this will lead to us doing and thinking about sex right. Part of the problem is our philosophy of sex has led to a culture where sex is treated cheaply. When sex it treated cheaply, real women are treated cheaply. They are not cheap. They are wonderful creations in the image of God. I love my wife, but my wife is not to be seen as a means to have sex. Sex is meant to be seen as the way that I have her. I express my love intensely in that action and want to show her every time how serious I am about my relationship with her and how much I desire intimacy with her.

I look forward to a day when we realize again how sacred sex and marriage are.

In Christ,
Nick Peters