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Blaming the victim of sexual assault

By Scott Tibbs, February 11, 2013

The Indiana Daily Student had a very good article about the unfortunate tendency to blame victims of rape and sexual assault for the crimes committed against them.

People working to prevent sex crimes always walk a fine line. It is important to educate people on how to be safe, but because of the cultural issues surrounding sex crimes it is a hazardous proposition that can easily devolve into blaming the victim. No one thinks twice about warning people to install security programs on mobile devices, keep track of valuables and cash, lock your automobile or offering other advice. But even when something is stolen, people usually do not say a victim of theft is "asking for it." But at the same time, there is nothing inherently wrong with warnings on how women can keep themselves safe from sexual assault.

This, of course, is not to say that theft is equal or even comparable to sexual assault and rape. Obviously, sex crimes are many orders of magnitude more severe and more traumatizing than any loss of material possessions.

One problem I had with the article is the stuff about "gender roles," specifically the assertion that men are seen as "hormone-crazed and unable to control sexual desires." That's generally not the case in Christian societies, where men are expected to exercise self-control. A man who behaves as a gentleman rather than a barbarian will not force himself on a woman, in any way. In fact, there are examples in Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:18 and Genesis 39:7-13, along with many others) where men are expected to control themselves. Of course, as we have become an increasingly post-Christian society, notions of self-control and respect for women have been eroded.

The problem is not "gender roles." The problem is that we have left our traditional Christian sexual morality behind in a sewer of hooking up, no-fault divorce, shacking up and the unprecedented use and availability of pornography. We have created a sexual entitlement mentality where people believe that sex is only about personal physical gratification, not about commitment to one's partner or producing offspring - and certainly not honoring Almighty God in the way we treat our bodies sexually. Even the church has failed to preach and teach on Biblical sexual morality. If we're going to deal with rape and sexual assault, that is where it needs to start.