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Stanford Rape Case: The Need for and Loss of Sacredness

Credit: Rahim Ullah via The Stanford Daily

Sex is not a carnival ride. A carnival ride can be fun, but has the potential to strike fear, cause sickness, and produce undesirable memories. To ride a rollercoaster at the carnival, all it takes is a yes and a few tickets. Today, in the eyes of our culture, sex is saying yes
and giving away a couple of tickets.

Olympic hopeful Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in prison for sexually assaulting a woman on campus. The All-American Stanford swimmer was found guilty of assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person. The light sentence drew harsh criticism, with some speculating that this is yet another instance of favoritism and judicial bias. He rode the ride, now he has to give up his tickets.

Judge Aaron Persky said on Thursday that Turner's age and lack of criminal history made him feel that a six-month jail sentence with probation was appropriate. His drunkenness made him "less morally culpable." Turner also has to register as a sex offender. A petition has started to recall Persky. Thus far, over 300,000 people have signed. 

During the trial, a number of people vouched for Turner, saying that this was outside his character. His dad has received the most attention, describing this atrocious event as "twenty minutes of action." In other words, he doesn't always force others on rides.

Dr. Dean Olsen agreed. He called Turner a "mild-mannered, respectful, well adjusted young man who wishes no harm." Brock's high school guidance counselor vouched for him, saying he "is a young man of character, integrity. . . seeks opportunities to help others, and is absolutely undeserving of the outcome.''

But are these testimonies false?

The Bible indicates that you will know a tree by its fruit, and these days your cell phone may be a branch on that tree. His cell phone records indicate that he had a video of him smoking from a bong and drinking from a bottle of liquor. In a text message exchange, he sent a message that asked a friend if they wanted buy some "wax so we could do some dabs?" Dabs are a highly concentrated form of marijuana. In high school, he sent a message that he had a "hankerin for a good acid trip."

Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson were the two men that caught and stopped Turner during his action behind a dumpster. When they approached Turner, asking him what he was doing, Turner ran, leaving her behind the dumpster. He was not fast enough to outrun the two, who eventually pinned him down until the authorities arrived.

Though she was not able to talk, since she was unconscious at the time, the victim later read a 7,000 word response to Turner during the trial. She described how Turner, "took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today . . . …the damage is done, no one can undo it." In conclusion, she said that we are now faced with a choice. "We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on."

The victim wants to move on, but what is the trajectory? If sex is just like a carnival ride, we can expect the same horrors to continue to plague our communities. The outcry of injustice and the loss of innocence speaks to the need for a recovery of the sacredness of sex.

For Brock Turner's dad, sex is just an action. It is an elongated dance without clothes. And in this instance, it is a carnival ride that one person does not want to remember.

For the judge, the law is the rule of the land. And according to the law, consensual sex simply requires affirmative consent from both parties. It is more than no means no, but a non-inebriated yes from both parties. If this is the carnival, this is walking past someone who is looking curiously at the same ride you are looking at. You express interest, they reciprocate interest, and you both ride knowing that you may or may not throw up on a stranger.

However, sex is more than a carnival ride according to the biblical narrative. Sex is very good (Genesis 1:31), and it is sacred because it co-creates a new soul (Genesis 1:27). Between a husband and a wife, sex is a self-giving love that points to the sacrificial love between the Father and the Son (1 Corinthians 11:3).

The cultural understanding of sex at times appears to be nothing more than a notch on the belt, a form of selfish self-expression. In the Bible, sex is a condition in the binding covenant of marriage (1 Corinthians 7, Hebrews 13:4). One person gives sacrificially to another, saying I am here permanently and will be faithful until death to do us part.

Sex is more than a carnival ride. But if we don't recover the sacredness of sex, we will be forced to ride an out of control roller coaster in which someone walks away sick.

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