Friends, I just discussed the fact that the category of “adolescence” was made necessary because of the industrial revolution and the resulting need for universal education to provide industry with the highly trained workforce it required. In the post I documented the early legal age of marriageability throughout history, as well as in the contemporary community of nations.
The Physical Dangers of Premature Sexual Activity,
and Child Sexual Abuse
Duncan B. wrote the following heartfelt and reasoned reply, which I want to share with you in full.
Pastor, what has been happening in the past hundred years, is that medicine has advanced in its studies to the point that doctors have discerned that it is not SAFE for women to have babies at or below the age of sixteen. The risks to the foetus and the mother both become numerous–not least because the birth canal must pass through a skeletal structure which has NOT finished its growth. I know this, because as it happens, I lost a cousin AND her foetus this way. Teen mothers do NOT engage in proper nutrition – in most cases, they don’t KNOW what proper nutrition IS.
While I have LONG known that Mary was 12 or 13 when she conceived, I also know that Jesus being born to her was something of a miracle in and of itself – first babies are OFTEN lost, even in this day and age, and yes, even when the mother is mature.
I can tell you that there is a VAST difference between children having consensual sexual experiences with each other (which happens to almost EVERY kid), and an adult using a child as a sexual plaything. We have raised our children to regard all adults as authority figures (hence tween and teen rebellion), and as such, created a situation where NO consensual sex can (or should) result between an adult and a child.
I am 6 feet 2 Inches tall, and as I have mentioned before, heterosexual. My body is HUGE compared to that of the average 12 or 13 year old, and my extremities disproportionately so. ANY hypothetical sex with the average child of that age or younger would literally tear them apart inside–leaving alone the fact that their bodies ARE NOT ready to produce the natural lubrication necessary to prevent tearing and skin damage. Pregnancy would put the mother’s life at severe risk, and only our society’s taboo against abortion allows doctors to willingly allow such a pregnancy to move forward anymore.
My point is that I sincerely hope you are not using this post to endorse a lowering of the age of consent–there are bigger men than me, and many of them are too stupid to realize what their bodies can do to what is an undeveloped child at 12 or 13–and this is leaving alone the men and women who will think that your post constitutes endorsement of sex between an adult and children younger than five!
With all that said, I will point out that I was raped by my stepbrother, repeatedly, between the ages of 12 and 14. He went on to do the same with his two younger brothers and many OTHER children. I don’t confuse rape with consensual intercourse–but he was big enough down there to damage me, and to cause both of them to have surgery in their backsides to fix what he’d done to them. That leaves aside the years of therapy all this man’s victims have had to go through.
Mary’s era had no sophisticated medical doctors in it–anatomy had not even been studied at that time. Please consider where you are going with this post.
Duncan, thank you for your eloquent and heartfelt reply.
The first thing I want to say is that I hope your step-brother did (or eventually does) some serious jail time for what he did to you, your younger brothers, and to other children. The children in our society need to be protected from violent sexual predators. The violence you described has never entered my personal world, so I can only imagine what you and your siblings went through physically and emotionally.
Please know that I do not favor lowering the age of legal marriage. The information you shared regarding a woman’s physical readiness (or unreadiness) for sex and childbirth are most instructive. These threats to a woman’s life and health must never be ignored or dismissed.
In my reading audience there could be some who would take the post as a justification for sexual activity with five-year-olds. Even though I did not discuss this age group, your point is well taken.
I would not be so quick to dismiss the age of Mary at her time of betrothal and impregnation on the basis of a miraculous element. This part of the discussion is also quite complicated, even controversial. The story of Mary’s conception could be mis-used to justify oppressing women as mere “baby factories,” or it could be used for the empowerment of women, including younger women. Discussion of the story is further complicated by whether we read the story through first-world information-age eyes, or through third-world subsistence-farming eyes.
Thank you for your concluding warning. My next few posts are exploratory, as was the one on adolescence as a social construct, and I quite frankly don’t know exactly where the discussion go. I did know, however, where I was headed with that post, which included the general topic of age disparity in sexual relationships.
Duncan, my next post is on whether or not the story of the “gay” centurion and his pais is a suitable starting point for discussing the idea of an “ethical Christian pederasty.” The post addresses the need for good definitions, the murkiness of cultural differences, audiences concerned with such discussions, etc.