A poll in Rhode Island asked seventeen hundred students in grades six through nine if it is OK for a guy to force a young woman to have sex if the two of them have dated for six months or more. Two-thirds of the guys said that this was acceptable—and half of the girls did as well! 86 percent of the young men said that it was OK to rape your wife, and 24 percent said that it was OK to rape a date if you spent “a lot of money” on her.
Modern culture tells us that if something feels good and we want it, we should have it. Go ahead. Gorge yourself. But when this mentality seeps into the minds of the youth, we end up with grade-schoolers who don’t see a problem with rape.
Are you willing to “accept” those students’ responses as those of “people having different values”? There is no doubt that times have changed since the Bible was written, but does the morality of an act depend upon where you live, when you live, or how many people agree with you? For example, if you created a time machine, how far into the future would you need to go in order for child abuse to become moral? If you went back in time and took a poll of Nazi guards, and the majority said that killing Jews was good, would that mean that we should be open-minded and accept their different values? Even today, if I were taken to court for shooting a clerk and shoplifting, do you think that the judge would be convinced of my innocence because I “just have different values”?
I hope you agree that no matter how times change, these acts will always be immoral. Why is it then that when we get to the sixth and ninth commandments (the ones regarding sexuality), people feel that morality is subjective and the Ten Commandments are multiple choice? Morality is objective, and a properly formed conscience can see this.
No one likes to be told that what he wants to do is wrong, but we are not the authors of right and wrong. We need to overcome the temptation to judge God’s laws by our standards and begin measuring our standards by his laws. We cannot construct our own private system of values. As Pope John Paul II said during the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado: “Do not give in to this widespread false morality! Do not stifle your conscience.” Saint Paul also warned us that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:3–5).
Although our civilization has lost the sense of sin, God still takes sin seriously. Look at a crucifix. There on the cross is our answer. Sin is still sin, and for this reason Christ’s call to holiness applies for all times to every person on the globe. Christ makes demands on us precisely in the arena of sexual values. He asks much because he knows we can give much. We cannot dismiss our responsibilities by saying, “I gotta be me,” or, “Boys will be boys.” We will either glorify God or offend him by how we use the gift of our sexuality.
Ask yourself, “Do I really desire union with God?” If so, the quickest route is simple and humble honesty. Since God is truth, our union with him depends on whether or not we are willing to submit our lives to the truth. We must love the truth and desire it with every fiber of our being, regardless of how inconvenient it may be. In the words of Scripture, we must, “even to the death, fight for truth” (Sir. 4:28, NAB). This is the sincerity of heart that God longs to find in us.
One man noted, “There are few better tests for whether or not someone lives a life in submission to God than what he or she does with their sexuality. Sex is such a powerful and meaningful desire that to give it up and obey God in that area is a true sign of worship.” As Jesus said in his agony in the garden, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). If we say that we love God but we still want to make up the rules when it comes to sexual desire, we have made pleasure our god. We should ask ourselves, “Am I willing to disregard God’s will in order to pursue mine, or am I willing to disregard my own will in order to pursue God?”
. J. Kikuchi, "Rhode Island develops successful intervention program for adolescents," National Coalition Against Sexual Assault Newsletter, Fall 1988.
. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries in Dating (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 252.