Culture Opinion

The Chimera of Sexual Consent

The unspoken message is that sexual intercourse between teenagers is fine as long as girls make sure it is protected and boys make sure they have proper consent.
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Former Kambala student, Chanel Contos, recently started an anonymous online petition to improve sexual consent and education in schools throughout Australia. And according to The Daily Telegraph, it has been signed by over 1400 girls saying that they have either been raped or sexually assaulted. In response, a number of elite private schools throughout Sydney have started offering ‘consent training’ to all students. The fact that many of these young men and women are also under the age of legal sexual consent seems to be lost on them.

The problem is these Church schools have abandoned teaching their traditional core values such as chastity until marriage, the bedrock Judeo-Christian belief that sex should be reserved for the covenant of marriage. That’s how and when sexual consent is to be both given and received. However, now it seems that we have quite literally entered into Huxley’s dystopian vision of a ‘Brave New World’ where everyone belongs to everyone else.

For example, Sarah Golsby-Smith, the head of learning and teaching at the Presbyterian Ladies College in Sydney, argues in an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald that:

As a leader in a school, I support explicit conversations about consent and about loving relationships, wherein women and men are respected as human beings, not as commodities for someone else’s pleasure. It breaks my heart to think the young people I have taught could be in any of the stories I read on the petition.

Significantly, Golsby-Smith never mentions the teaching of the Bible, nor the doctrinal standards of the ecclesiastical organisation of which she is employed. A strange omission indeed for someone who is supposed to be “the head of learning and teaching”! Instead, according to Golsby-Smith, the underlying problem is the free access to hard-core porn which is being produced to satiate male lust:

The hours we might invest in teaching young men and women about consent would be far outclassed by the hours of access young men have to hardcore porn, on their phones and on their computers, in which women are routinely debased, violated and used for patriarchal pleasure.

While I agree that the ubiquity of pornography is a significant issue, it is an oversimplification for Golsby-Smith to argue that this is a patriarchal problem. This is because current research has found that one-third of all internet porn users are female. Hence, it is erroneous to state that hardcore pornography is being produced “for patriarchal pleasure”.

I actually think that a strong logical argument can be made showing a link between sexual consent training and greater promiscuity. Because not only does it sexualise the school children it seeks to educate, but it also teaches them the practical steps of seducing someone in a socially acceptable way. What is needed then is ‘constraint’ rather than ‘consent’. As Wayne Richards, the chairman of the Scots College Council, has written:

The challenge for the media, the education department syllabus and indeed some parents is what they are actually encouraging by their omissions. The unspoken message is that sexual intercourse between teenagers is fine as long as girls make sure it is protected and boys make sure they have proper consent. While critical, this is a woefully inadequate message and a dangerous sanction to our children.

Richards is absolutely correct. Sexual consent training and education is nothing by a politically progressive chimera. Indeed, it is a mythological feminist monster that ultimately harms, rather than protects women. This is because any form of ‘consent’ other than that of the covenant commitment instituted in marriage is an illusion.

The kind of instruction and education that Church schools—such as at the Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney—are currently promoting is hopelessly insufficient. It has more to do with avoiding future legal imbroglios than it does with cultivating Christian virtue. What’s more, sexual education and consent training only functions to sexualise children, giving them a practical pathway to ever-increasing promiscuity.  The better way forward is that proposed by Richards of the Scots College, Bellevue Hill:

Jesus said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [Mat 19:5]. The true joy of sex is not a one-night stand. It is giving not taking. The Christian teaching from the Bible is that promiscuity, or promoting sexual relationships other than within marriage and between one man and one woman, is simply wrong. If this is true then it is true for our teenagers as well. This may sound prudish today, really! Look at what is happening to our young girls and boys. Ignorance, alcohol or peer pressure are no excuses. Honouring God’s created order and purpose is to honour Him and discover true contentment.


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