The concept of mutual consent is tossed around today like it’s one of the Ten Commandments. It’s commonly used in the legal system to free someone from blame or limit their culpability; and is usually associated with something illicit, illegal, or immoral – especially of a sexual nature. What frees a man from the charge of rape? Mutual consent. But is it even biblical? Far from it. Mutual consent is the ultimate affirmation of man’s short-sighted knowledge over God’s eternal wisdom. It holds up the opinions of the majority to represent everything that is good when in fact mutual consent usually represents everything that is evil. By its very nature, it seeks to transform evil into something virtuous.
For instance, gambling is a state-sanctioned legal activity in many parts of the country. Riverboat casinos have become popular vacation destinations, the ideal family get-away wrapped up in a Disney theme park package. They’ve got a pool for the kiddies and free drinks, right? Slot machines are approached with the understanding that money could be lost or money could be gained. A mutual consensus. Actually, it’s just theft cloaked in legal correctness regardless of who “wins.” If the player wins, did he do anything to earn the money? No. If the house wins, did they do anything to earn the money? No. “Though shalt now steal” has been one of the Ten Commandments for a long time. And God condemns theft so harshly that even wishing for something that is not yours is prohibited in the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17. In an ironic twist, some states have legalized gambling as a way to “help the schools.” Anything for the good of the children. Stealing is stealing, whether or not both parties consent or where the money goes. If it went to buy the pope a new Popemobile, it would still be theft. There will always be people not capable of understanding the risks they take, the amount of money they could lose, or the long term consequences of their actions. But just because someone is not capable of understanding mutual consent does not give the government or anyone else keys to their vault. The fact that Christianity is based on sexual ethics becomes clear in such a scenario. When somebody commits an act that is harmful to someone else, mutual consent is never a biblical principle to make it right – regardless of whether one person understood the ramifications or both parties knew what was going on; whether or not one person is guilty of sin or both parties are equally culpable. For example, a good old fashioned duel involves mutual consent. Both parties mutually agree to be killed. In the old days, it absolved a person from murder. But “Though shalt not kill” has always been one of the Ten Commandments. So it’s never been right in the eyes of God. Would you consent to being shot when you least expected it?
The same thing is true of childhood sexual abuse. A child cannot comprehend a sexual relationship or fully appreciate that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they can’t mutually consent to do anything with their bodies, and different children reach that age at different times. It takes more than a “yes” to consent to sex. It takes full awareness. And it’s not possible to give away something you don’t know you own. A child’s world is divided between little and big, child and adult, weak and strong, short and tall, blue and pink. They trust the adults in their lives to take care of them – to feed them, clothe them, protect them; and most importantly, to respect boundaries they don’t even know exists. In child abuse, the guilty party is the person with the knowledge and appreciation of what sex is – oftentimes a family member. Not only do these criminals take something that is not theirs, they shatter the trust a child inherently places in them. The mere idea of mutual consent between child and adult takes mankind’s existence to a level lower than that of animals; proof of the devolution of man, not the evolution of man. It places a burden of guilt and shame, oftentimes in silence, on a child that cannot be rendered accurately with the English language. All of society pays the price – counselors, teachers, doctors, pastors – everyone. The experts on this subject are the ones who have survived such abuse. Instead of turning to academic and bureaucratic “experts,” we would be wise to listen to their advice.
Unfortunately, sins that fall under the umbrella of “mutual consent” are the ones that become big and bold. They move from being tolerated to being nurtured and defended. In a society that glamorizes greed under the guise of mutual consent, it’s no wonder these so called “victimless” crimes become no crimes at all; that what is done under the cover of darkness become boldly proclaimed in the light of day, that what is done in silence is eventually YouTubed and podcasted all over the world in the name of acceptance and tolerance. Apostle Paul understood the connection between the fraud of mutual consent and sexual immorality when he listed them in the same category. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5:3-4. Mutual consent in a sexual relationship is a good thing, but only within marriage. There is indeed a right time to do everything and a wrong time to do everything, “a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) It’s our responsibility to understand these times and discern biblical principles from worldly standards; and to take a Christian stand against human trafficking, Sharia law, child abuse, pornography, and exploitation of women. Mutual consent may sound good in a courtroom, but it is no excuse in the eyes of God.