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Does No mean Yes?

A recent sexual assault on our campus was a wake-up call to those who thought that our small-town university was safe. But rape by strangers is only one aspect of the problem. What about acquaintance rape and date rape?

One study found that 25% of the female college students surveyed had at least one experience of forced intercourse, and that 93% of these episodes involved acquaintances. College administrators and campus police estimate that date rape or acquaintance rape happens to one-fifth of college women, and one-fourth of college women will experience either attempted or completed forced sex.

This is something we all need to discuss and decide, one by one, what we can do about it. And Christians on campus need to be prepared to offer more than scriptural "Thou shalt not's." "Just say no" is no more a panacea for acquaintance/date rape than it is for the problem of illicit drugs.

Often, even when the woman says "No!" or "Stop!" the guy doesn't stop, or even slow down. He coaxes, pleads, and pressures. He may even ridicule, threaten, or get rough. He thinks "no" means "maybe" and "maybe" might just mean "yes."

Here are some practical suggestions for women. Decide what is your own personal, definite standard of how far is acceptable, based on solid reasons drawn from morality (what is right?), physiology (what will arouse beyond stopping?), and psychology (what might he wrongly assume?).

Explore the potential mental conflicts the dating situation might create. You may often find yourself trying to weigh the value of maintaining your standards against the value of not hurting his feelings, or of maintaining the relationship, or even of ensuring your personal safety.

Learn from others the consequences of not communicating your standards clearly and forcefully--before you learn it from painful and bitter experience. Develop effective, assertive ways of saying "no" or "stop" without lying, hurting, or estranging. All of this thinking-through is best done alone, away from the critical, split-second decision-making you might have to do on a date.

Another important point to remember is how often alcohol is connected with date rape. In fact, it is directly involved in a large majority of cases. Guys looking for a new conquest know that even a beer or two will lower your resistance. If you are aware of this ploy, you can guard against it.

Of course, avoiding date rape is not just the woman's responsibility. Each man who dates must also develop his own convictions. Decide how far is too far. Stop thinking of and treating women as commodities and start esteeming them as persons with inestimable worth. God sees each of them as one "for whom Christ died" (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11). How priceless, then, she must be!

Did you know that respect from you and for you is one of the highest values most women want in a growing relationship? Cultivate her respect by establishing your own standards rather than relying on her to determine when to stop.

Resolve never to overcome "No!" with coaxing, ridicule, or any kind of manipulation or coercion. Appreciate the value of self-control as an important step you can take now toward becoming a world-class lover when and if you get married.

The goal both of you have in most dates is to develop a deeper, more satisfying relationship. Heterosexual intercourse is designed by God to be the fullest and deepest expression of such a relationship, provided it is experienced in an environment of concern, trust, and mutual respect.

Such an environment only marriage can provide. Here are three passages that will help you know where to draw the line:

  • "Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor. 6:18). Is the activity you are engaged in on a date coming closer and closer to fornication, or is it helping you stay away from it?

    The way some Christian students act on a date, you would think the verse read "Pursue sexual immorality-as long as you don't catch it." They are what could be called, "Technical Virgins," avoiding intercourse, but engaging in everything else.

    This is not fleeing from sexual immorality. It is yielding to it, longing for it, and fantasizing about it. Those who take such an approach to the dating scene can no longer call themselves pure even if they are still virgins physiologically.

  • "Not everything is beneficial . . . . I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Cor. 6:12). Jesus must be our only master, not self, and certainly not libido.

    If our sexual desires are so uncontrollable that we are no longer submissive to Christ, we should follow Paul's advice, "It is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Cor. 7:9).

  • "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17). Can you begin and end your date with prayer, asking for God's presence throughout the evening and for His blessing on all that you two will do?

    Are you willing for anyone who witnesses what you do on your date to know that you are a Christian? When we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ, and for the rest of our lives, as we walk in the light, we continue to wear Him.

    If you are in the habit of taking Him off, rolling Him up, and stuffing Him into your glove compartment or checking him with the attendant at the door, know this: Christ will not be put off many times before He refuses to be put on again. You insult Him whenever you do it.

Excluding sexual foreplay and intercourse from dating gives you a chance to explore each other in ways more important in the long run, establishing the lines of communication that are the essentials of every successful marriage. Ask your date these questions: "Who are you? What are your core values? Name your top three ambitions. What do you like to do? What's your absolute passion? What do you like about yourself? What do you despise in yourself or in others? What do you see in me worth admiring?" Then say: "Do you know what I like about you? Allow me to get out my list."

Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.

Go to his DeeperStudy.org for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Sign up for Steve's free "DeeperStudy Newsletter."

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