My dad, Schafer J. Skelton Jr., never played flag football. That puzzled us because we knew he was on three Conference and two State championship teams in high school, earning all-state guard honors in 1950. Mom asked him once, when the men at a church outing were dividing into teams, why he wasn’t joining in the fun?
“I play football for keeps,” he said. “If I go out there, somebody’s going to get hurt.”
Dad understood himself well enough to know that once on the field, in the heat of competition, his natural aggression and fierce competitiveness would likely send somebody to the hospital. I wonder if we understand our sexual selves that well.
What does this have to do with the epidemic of sexual assault?
The Bible is clear that from Noah’s son Ham to Harvey Weinstein, men have been guilty of sexual harassment and assault. The sexual revolution of the 1960’s, however, tossed out every warning the Bible had to give. It said that sex is like flag football; everybody has fun, and no one gets hurt. But the headlines tell the tale. Sex is one of the most powerful forces within us.
Ideas have consequences and, as John Stonestreet likes to say, they also have victims. The sexual revolution kicked the referees off the field, pitched the helmets and pads that once protected the players, and produced predictable fruit: millions of women, children, and men have been hurt.
But the men are the primary perpetrators, so allow me to speak directly about them.
As a pastor, my exposure to some of the grimier parts of life is limited. So, I did an informal survey of my wife, mom, three daughters, and two female cousins, asking, “How bad is it out there with men?”
It is very bad, much worse than I imagined. Some of the things men say and do are too foul to print. Combined with the reports we’ve all read about high profile abusers and rapists my first reaction is profound grief. My second is deep anger.
Schafer would have broken their teeth out.
A word to those men, and the ones like them. The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. You may imagine that you are too smart to be caught, but no one gets away with it. I urge you to repent and ask Jesus Christ for mercy and forgiveness. If you refuse, do not imagine that you will escape the wrath of God.
But what about the rest of us? The climate is so charged with rancor and suspicion that some men are wondering if they should ever ask a girl out on a date, and some women are wondering if they should accept.
I had in mind a list of practical guidelines for men and women to help cultivate virtue and curb our baser instincts, but anyone can come up with a list of do’s and don’ts. Here at the nasty end of the sexual revolution we need a reason to follow the list in the first place. Rod Dreher reminded me of one in The Benedict Option.
Scripture gives us a reason to respect the bodies of others and refrain from sex until marriage that is much more powerful than the fear of punishment. Our bodies, the complementarity of male and female together, bear the image of God and are thus sacred. Using another human being for sexual gratification without the protective covenant of marriage is, at the very least, to undermine their dignity. Abusing or assaulting another human being for sexual gratification is to desecrate the sacred.
Bottom line, when we see other human bodies as sacred, the rules about how we should treat them, the respect we owe to them, become self-evident and internally energized.
Dreher writes, “… man has a purpose. He is meant for something, to achieve certain ends. When Paul warned the Christians of Corinth that having sex with a prostitute meant that they were joining Jesus Christ to that prostitute, he was not speaking metaphorically. Because we belong to Christ as a unity of body, mind, and soul, how we use the body and the mind sexually is a very big deal.”
“Anything we do that falls short of the perfect harmony with the will of God is sin. Sin is not merely rule breaking but failing to live in accord with the structure of reality itself.”
We have been living contrary to the structure of reality now for over fifty years and the results are obvious. Isn’t it time for a new revolution? Isn’t it time to turn around?
 Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option. Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 2017. P. 200.