age of consent?

The video (around 8 minutes) on this page is very thought-provoking. A 19 year-old male had a (consentual) sexual relationship with his 15 year-old girlfriend, and was convicted for statutory rape, including on-going public identification as a sex-offender.

This scenario re-raises not only the question of sexual ethics (How old should a person be to have sex?), but also raises the question of what our laws are based on, etc.

Very interesting indeed (…and before Christians give too ‘conservative’ an answer, let me say that many people think that Mary was possibly as young as 14 when she was found to be pregnant with Jesus…)…

13 thoughts on “age of consent?”

  1. 100 years ago, it was commonplace for 13-year olds to get married. It came from Jewish culture of the Bar(Bat) Mitzvah. There are tons of examples of people doing things at a young age. King Tut was 9 when he became king. He died when he was 18. Polygamy was commonplace for years because most men died in war before 1500 AD.
    Society has changed, largely because we live longer than we used to.

  2. Thanks ‘Ahmnodt Heare’ (lol),

    (funny site, by the way – I regularly delete comments if I think they’re just to promote people’s own sites, but you’ve actually egaged the issue, so I take it you’re not doing that…)

    Indeed, history (heck, even things taking place right now) offers a wide variety of things that have been done. Different people have different views.

    I’m interested in why people are against certain things as well as why others are convinced that those same certain things are ‘just fine’ or ‘just how society works’…

  3. Ahmnodt you aren’t even mixing the proverbial “apples & oranges” here. If this is the case I think you are talking about it happened in Georgia, USA.

    You can’t compare today with one hundred years ago and certainly not 1500 AD.

    Heck in 1908 people still wore side arms and if that raskle had a been sneeking around my daughter he probably wouldn’t have gotten a trial or nothin. But that was a hundred years ago.

    The good news here is that the Georgia Legislature is “undoing” all of this. But still, if it were MY fifteen year old daughter… Well first of all I wouldn’t allow her to date at fifteen.

    Before you start ranting. I do have three daughters 29, 24 and 19 so I know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

  4. M54,
    It feels like you’re trying to have a conversation with Ahmnodt that you started somewhere else? Either let us all into the conversation or keep it where it started, please. Thank you!
    -d-

  5. Its a complicated issue, but the law is really about not just simple consent but meaningful, genuine consent – not the consent of someone who is a child, who is drunk, who is drugged, who is bribed or blackmailed, who is afraid, who is mentally ill. It comes down to an imbalance of power that can lead to consent being coerced. Its tricky though because I’m sure many a bloke has tried to con a drunk woman into having sex with him (or vice versa – woman exploiting drunk man). The power imbalance is the reason doctors, teachers, counsellors, church ministers mustn’t have sex with those they are caring for – in the US this is now a criminal offence. I think in cases when the ages are close, there needs to be a closer look at the relationship to establish whether genuine consent could be freely given. What is the case when two under age people have sex, ie two fifteen year olds , is anyone charged with anything?
    As for Mary, well with an all powerful God telling you to be pregnant, well there is a bit of a power imbalance?! Although He did ask.

  6. Excellent comment, Jack.
    Power is a very important aspect of this issue. I’m still interested in why we all seem to agree that (for example) the abuse of power is wrong. Abuse of power happens all the time… why is it ‘wrong’? Why is rape wrong? Why is it wrong to have sex with a 17 yr old girl who flirted with you and passed out drunk? I certainly believe those things are wrong, but I’m interested in people’s ideas as to why
    I’m not suggesting that the ‘why’ will be the same for ‘close calls’ like ‘is-she-or-he-drunk-enough-to-give-full-consent’, and for ‘clear’ cases like rape and pedophilia combined; different situations will have different circumstances and different actions different consequences… But I’m still interested in reasons why…
    To say it a different way, (a) in a situation which is almost universally judged to be immoral (i.e. child-rape), I’m interested in the values/ideas which underlie that near-universal judgment, and (b) in a situation which is hotly contested (i.e. homosexuality), I’m interested in the values/ideas which underlie these (conflicting) judgments (for or against, etc.)…
    Geez, I’m long-winded…
    :)
    -d-

  7. One question we need to ask is whether a minor is entitled to all of the protections of the Constitution that an adult is. Does a child have a right to free speech? Do children have a right to freely assemble? Does a child have the right to bear arms?

  8. Dale,
    I have a friend that has a stepson serving time for statutory rape. The girl (16) was consenting, her parents were aware of their relationship (although I don’t know if they were aware of the sexual activity)and liked the kid, but it was a teacher (mandatory reporter) that turned him in when she overheard a conversation the girl had with a friend. He’ll carry the sexual predator label fro the rest of his life.

  9. Ahmnodt,
    Yes, and those questions become further complicated by the varying definitions of ‘minor’, ‘adult’, ‘right’, ‘free speech’, ‘assemble’, etc.!!! :)

    John,
    Good example. The ‘sexual predator’ label is unhelpful, I think, but at the same time, in our western culture, 16-year-olds are often thought to not be fully ‘ready’ or ‘mature enough’ to give meaningful consent, etc. But that’s the heart of the issue, isn’t it; how do we gauge ‘readiness’ or ‘maturity’???

  10. There is an ‘economical’ way of thinking where you enshrine a set of laws that are roughly based on common sense and simply refuse to consider alternatives. This generally works pretty well for most people but it does lead to the dilemmas we see at the boundaries.

    Somewhere along the line we’ve seen fit to try to protect people (especially young girls) by saying that before the age of 16 they should not have sex and that any man seeking to have sex with an under-16 is a predator with ill intentions.

    If you like to live the simple life and view established laws as black and white then conversations about issues at the fringes of the laws probably aren’t going to get very far.

    And then we’re left with two remaining prominent worldviews: the view that laws are our imperfect way of muddling through as a society in an attempt to do what’s best for all of us and the view that laws are from some kind of external source (i.e. God).

    Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that and there is a range of views in between but I believe that this describes the two essential viewpoints.

    The morality-from-God view is often treated in exactly the same ‘economic’, black/white, never-changing way but there are people (like those posting here) who are willing to challenge these laws or at least try to consider them in perspective.

    My view is the former and when I approach the question of consent I look first for signs of suffering. Avoidance of suffering is probably the one thing we as a society can agree on. If I detect that someone is being made to suffer against their will (and that they’re in charge of their faculties) then it would cause me concern.

    Much of this issue for many people is really about sex and not consent. Some people’s first hurdle would be the fact that sex in this case is occurring outside of marriage.

    In my worldview there are lots and lots of grey areas when it comes to this human construct we call morality. There may be some situations that can never really be resolved simply because morality is binary in nature (good or evil) but the range of human actions and interactions and potential consequences available to us are analogue in nature (something might really hurt or just hurt a little). Our children don’t all of a sudden become adults fully capable of looking after themselves.

    I personally don’t have a lot of time for discussing issues of morality with either people who take the simplistic black/white approach or the morality-from-God approach. And especially on topics even remotely related to sex where people tend to morally ‘economise’ most and lack perspective. And with the religious approach we can’t even get to the issue of consent because the issue is eliminated the moment it’s outside of a monogamous martial relationship. Because, don’t-you-know, Man was made for a Woman and the two shall become one.

    So why am I even posting this? Well, because I think you, Dale, and the other posters here don’t have a simplistic view of morality and might understand where I’m coming from. And this might lead to a conversation on the core issue of morality: is it human-made or God-made? Or both? And how might we be able to tell either way?

  11. OK… I’m back from the states, and I thought I’d respond to your thoughts, Damian.

    Yes, morality and how it ‘works’ (or should we say ‘doesn’t work’?) is indeed complicated.

    I fully agree with the idea of some things hurting just a little, and others more, etc. Different actions have different consequences.

    And your mention of ‘suffering’ is great, but this eventually (upon further reflection) reminds us that all morality operates out of value-judgments. For example, considering the view that suffering is un-wanted; a value-judgment has already been made as to what ‘suffering-free’ life looks like. Yet what is ‘suffering’ to one person may not be to another (and of course ‘suffering’ has degrees)…

    I know, I know – it’s all subjective. So what? Should the subjective nature of our working at morality automatically force us to conclude that morality is itself relative?

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