Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Log Meet Speck

NZ readers here will be aware of a scandalous story in our media with many angles emerging, including behaviour of some media personnel themselves. Already the story has a name, Roast Busters, which refers to a group of young men boasting of sexual conquests with young women via Facebook. Emerging allegations include rape as the girls were under the age of sixteen.

Michael Hewat, a vicar in Hamilton and executive officer for AFFIRM, makes an excellent point about the wider complicity of the government (via its policy on access to alcohol) and thus, by implication, all of our society in the scandal.

There is little scandal in NZ which is not fuelled by alcohol ...


Bryden Black said...

Michael has indeed pointed the finger to a most important ingredient in this sordid story: alcohol! But his finger is also pointed at the typical NZ response to mostly anything: “Government”!

Until folk appreciate what is actually involved in cultivating human responsibility, amongst both juniors and seniors, then this kind of depravity will prevail.

Of course, there are certain “structural” factors implicated, licensing laws among them. But that is ever only part of the story. A major part is the shifting of human freedom away from due accountability to licence. This is something learned from the beginning of pre-school, when real consequences are avoided and fluffy sex ed replaces childhood innocence, and morality disposed of by a sheer utilitarian ethic. At root, “the domestic church” has been replaced by “government” ... and we wonder at the consequences, we who are “most to be pitied”.

Scott Mayer said...

Hi Peter,

I disagree with the good Rev.

In principle, I agree that reform is needed of NZ's alcohol laws, and more fundamentally, the culture that underpins it.

But I think alcohol is incidental, at best, in this case. I have been a teenager who has puked his guts out on a few occasions from drinking too much. I never raped anyone, or participated the gang-rape of someone.

I am persuaded by the feminist analysis that sees this as a result of 'rape culture', a culture that implicitly legitimises these actions.

Much more fundamentally, I am persuaded that the concept of 'rape-culture' is grounded in what Jesus has told us "what comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these come from inside and defile you." (Mk 7:20).

You could marinate yourself in bath tub of Jim Beam and still be no closer to becoming a rapist.



Janice said...

It's not the government's job to raise children to know right from wrong. I blame the church. The lousy job we've done over the last generation and more in evangelising and making disciples is bearing its fruit. Alcohol isn't the problem. It's a symptom of the problem.

Fancy relying on law to change hearts! How far from the gospel is that?

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm pretty sure that a part of the problem in New Zealand, with testosterone-enhanced teenagers (male), is the prevailing 'macho' culture, which disdains gender equality, favouring homophobic activity over a more liberally-minded and grown-up society.

Young men need to understand the need for males to not be afraid of their feminine side - which is merely part and parcel of human existence. A more balanced sex education in schools ought to have eradicated the prevailing Macho culture in this country by now.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Scott
Fair observations, but isn't part of Michael's case that young girls with access to alcohol may become party to sexual acts (whether or not rapes) which are later regretted. (Life is complex and I am aware that the previous sentence does not do justice to the whole 'party culture' of our young people ...).

Peter Carrell said...

To commenters here who do not know Michael Hewat:

1. Michael is a fine and orthodox clergyman!
2. What he has written has been published in a leading secular newspaper. I wonder if he were more explicitly gospel oriented in his message whether he would have had the article published?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Our macho culture is fuelled by other factors sex education has a hard job withstanding: e.g. raunch adverts, films and TV soaps which exalt sexual activity.

Scott Mayer said...

I think Michael is shifting the focus of this issue away from where it belongs, probably unintentionally: the attitudes a person holds that gives them permission, and even makes it a virtue, to exploit someone else, and especially to exploit their vulnerability (regardless of what factors make a person vulnerable) and the culture that fosters these attitudes.

I think tacit 'victim-blaming' is a danger here, shifting responsibility from the perpetrator to the victim. That is, if she hadn't had access to alcohol, this wouldn't have happened to her. I acknowledge this isn't what you're saying in your response, but I think this is the corollary.

I agree things are complex, but I think a lot of other complex factors lead to this situation well before the alcohol was even purchased.

I think access to alcohol should be restricted, but I don't think the gang-rape of teenage girls should be used as a platform to promote a Christian hobby-horse.

I mean no disrespect to Michael, whom I'm sure as written this article with good intentions. I just think they are misdirected.

Andrew White said...

Alternatively, it's the prevailing "me" culture, where self-determination is hailed over personal responsibility.

Young men need to be taught to express their manhood by protecting and taking responsibility for the well being of women. A more traditional education in schools ought to have eradicated the prevailing autonomous culture in this country by now

Chris Spark said...

To put alcohol in this picture is not to remove the sexualisation of culture as a factor - it is not either/or. I winder if (and don't know enough about the story to say) alcohol was a factor not only in the girls, but precisely inthe guys as well, in their 'macho-ness'.

But having said that, as a guy who is very much not macho (over sensitive snag musician!), I think to blame macho-ness for this is also a misdirection - there are plenty of 'macho' type men who direct their macho-ness in much more constructive and helpful ways, even protective (!), and are far from this.

But in fact, in the language of far from this I betray the main thing I want to say.
I think the point of Mark 7 is precisely that none of us are far from this - whether soaked in Jim Beam or not. One thing that seems to me to have been powerfully missing is the recongition that these young men are precisely like the rest of us, just they have unleashed it in a different way a way that is public and incredibly harmful (and dispicable). Jesus' words in Mark 7 make the p[oint that from all of our hearts come these things, and so it is not actually a case of being far from this sort of behaviour, but that actually we are all closer than we dear imagine.

It is at precisely this point that I think the gospel comes powerfully to bear, in that Jesus came to save people precisely like these girls that have been broken by the horror of this sin, and the young men who have perpetrated it (and are bvoth themselves responsible and yet also part of the wider web of brokenness and sin of which we are all in the same boat - responsible and caught up in it).Then Jesus' words about specks and logs become very personal I think - at least to me.

None of this invalidates what Michael may have said, I am simply responding to the tone of many comments (not just here) that looks on either the girls or the young men as if we were much different from them. We aren't, thankfully God is merciful and his grace transforms those who will humble themselves.

carl jacobs said...

Western culture has severed sex from responsibility. It has severed sex from relationship. It has severed sex from children. The primary purpose of sex is now defined as self-gratification. What do you expect?

All the old boundaries are gone. Sex has been privatized. It's a little to start complaining about the consequences now. Men will by nature turn women into sexual objects in this culture because they want to, and that is what they have been told they can do. And, yes, that means the burden will fall disproportionately on women because women are much more likely to attach sex to relationship.

Welcome to the future. This is what the modern world wanted. Now it can live with its choice.