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On 3 October 2013, the South African Constitutional Court (similar to the American Supreme Court), proclaimed sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, relating to sexual offences, to be unconstitutional. The unanimous judgement was written by Judge Sisi Khampepe. According to the judgement, these two sections “infringed on the rights of adolescents between 12 and 16 to dignity and privacy, and further violated the best interest principle contained in section 28(2) of the constitution.” (IOL)
According to the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt) judgement summary, the court used expert evidence to conclude that “the impugned provisions criminalise what constitutes developmentally normative conduct for adolescents, and adversely affect the very children the Act seeks to protect.”
Further, “[t]he provisions were declared invalid only to the extent that they criminalise consensual sexual conduct between adolescents [defined as 12- to 16-year olds]: the criminal prohibitions against non-consensual sexual conduct with children of any age, and against sexual activity between adults and older children on the one hand, and adolescents on the other hand, remain in place.”
In this judgement, the ConCourt is reticent to criminalize “what constitutes developmentally normative conduct for adolescents.” Really? So, the measuring rod for behaviour amongst our children is what constitutes as “developmentally normative conduct for adolescents?” What other conduct related to developmental conduct will next be decriminalized? Your guess is as good as mine, and it sends shivers down my spine when I just think of the possibilities.
Violence among teenagers is a growing problem in South Africa. More and more teenagers think that the best way to solve differences is through physical violence. Just this week a group of teenagers from one school used a taxi to get to another school to exact vengeance on pupils of that school for bullying a friend of theirs at the school. A couple of weeks ago a pupil attacked and seriously wounded a teacher. This type of violence among teenagers has become normative developmental conduct in our nation. Will this be decriminalized?
Or, in this “teen sex” ruling, if normative behaviour changes in the coming years, will the ConCourt rule again to change the law accordingly? The problem with what is called normative behaviour, is that it is always in flux. What was considered taboo 40 years ago, today has become normative behaviour. This would include the current “free sex” culture (whoredom), open homosexuality (sodomy), abortion on demand (murder), pornography (perversity), and much more. Which laws will have to be repealed in another 40 years time due to what is considered normative behaviour?
No wonder our teenagers are so confused on what is right and wrong. One day they are told that something is wrong, just to be told on another day that it is now acceptable, indeed even beneficial! And, since when do we create or amend laws based on the normative behaviour of teenagers? Is it not obvious to those with common sense that this is a dangerous precedent to set? But, I am sure you have heard what they say about common sense. It is not so common anymore!
On the issue of sex before marriage, Focus on the Family says:
“Sex is a powerful drive, and for most of human history it has been firmly linked to marriage and childbearing. In modern history, the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s accelerated the separation of sex from marriage and procreation. The development of modern contraceptives and the legalization of abortion were two key developments that prompted more people than ever before to move sexual expression outside the marriage boundary.
“In addition, the rate of change in our sexual mores has greatly increased. The liberal media, a decade of privacy with personal computers in the home and the rapid growth in small electronics have resulted in an explosion of sexual content being accessed by family members.
“Today, the issue of abstinence from sexual behaviors before marriage is most often discussed within the context of sex education in the public schools. And the ensuing debate over the most effective and appropriate method of sex education for students is a logical by-product of an ever-increasing sexualized society. Fundamentally, abstinence is viewed as refraining from sexual activity, but it would be better understood in the larger context of God's plan for relationships and intimacy.”
How will limits and consequences “adversely affect the very children the Act seeks to protect?” Children of any ages need limits and consequences in their lives, especially when they want to engage in adult conduct, especially conduct that should only occur within marriage. Teenagers that are willing to act like adults, should also be willing to handle the consequences like adults. It really isn’t as if teenagers are completely stupid when they engage in sexual activities. They are just completely oblivious to the fact that the bad things related to sex, especially outside of marriage, could ever happen to them. Apart from the moral context of such behaviour, it can lead to all kinds of diseases and “unwanted” pregnancies.
Children will always test the boundaries, yet if they know where those boundaries are and that there are consequences to overstepping those boundaries, they will feel more secure in their relationships. By setting boundaries, we are making our kids safer. By removing those boundaries, we are informing our kids that their conduct does not matter and when this gets translated to adulthood, we end up with defective adults that must uphold our society. We can put a stop to this by setting those boundaries early.
What will be our measuring rod for setting boundaries in society? It simply cannot be some subjective mumbo-jumbo about current norms and practices. This has led to an over-sexed society, led by the acceptance of perversity such as pornography, which then produced a quick-fix method for unwanted pregnancies called abortion; a euphemism for murder!
If our morals and laws have no objective foundation, they become meaningless, because tomorrow those laws will change. The only true objective measuring rod is provided by the God of the Bible, and He has given us objective truths to live by.