Sexual Infidelity As Exploitation -- By: Craig S. Keener
PP 7:4 (Fall 1993) p. 15
Sexual Infidelity As Exploitation
Craig S. Keener is an ordained minister in the National Baptist Convention, USA, with a Ph.D. in New Testament from Duke University, as well as an MA. in biblical languages and an M.Div. in missions from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He is Professor of New Testament at Hood Theological Seminary, and is author of ...And Married Another: Divorce and Remarriage in the New Testament and Paul Women & Wives: Marriage & Women’s Ministries in the letters of Paul (both available from the CBE Book Service).
The specific experience that moved me to write this article grew out of telling Bible stories to neighbor kids who were expressing concern about the dangerous drug dealers who daily stalk the street. One eleven-year-old girl, most of whose female teenage relatives under her roof have babies, has a bleeding ulcer and cried when I told her that I was leaving town for a few days. When she asked me to be her godfather, I suspected what inquiry soon confirmed: Her father had abandoned his family and broken her precious heart.
Today many young men and women make promises they have no intention of keeping, to “get the goods.” In so doing, they exploit another human being’s most personal possession — their body — as an object for their own designs. I write this brief essay because the concerns it addresses touch my life personally. I know too many girls around 14 years of age who get pregnant because boys pressure them to have unprotected sex; the girls get stuck with raising the child. (Some of the girls do this intentionally; tragically, in some areas, it is the most they think they can keep of a man). Smooth-talking tongues and short-lived promises crush trusting hearts, further harden those more prudent than to trust, and often produce children to be raised by a single parent or grandparent. The children themselves provide the best proof that the human heart was never constructed to bear such pain. Although most children I know do not talk about it much unless you ask, not recognizing the pathological abnormality of their situation in a society that normalizes their pain, they know that something is not the way it should be.
Because our society traditionally associated sexual ethics with religion, our culture’s abandonment of religion (largely on the grounds that religion was too sectarian) was naturally accompanied by an abandonment of traditional sexual ethics. While we retain a small portion of those ethics (such as the almost universal incest taboo),1 we have as a culture come to regard premarital sexual activity, and often even extramarital sexual activity, as a matter of personal choice, as if that choice a...
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