Church Spokesman: No Charges Expected
Posted by Tim
A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post. The details seem quite fluid in this developing story from the Hammond church. First Baptist Church spokesman Eddie Wilson is quoted in the NWI Times today by reporter Chelsea Sneider Kirk as saying, “the church does not expect there to be charges filed in the incident.” However, Sheriff John Buncich is reported to say that an investigation by his department and the FBI against Schaap is ongoing. Age of consent laws seem to be the issue. As a father of teenagers I’m shocked to learn that an adult who isn’t a public school official can engage in sex with a 16 year old as long as it’s “consensual.” These laws seem antiquated. Knowing what we know today about psychology and living in a culture of extended adolescence, who thinks a 16-17 year old is truly capable of giving consent to her 54 year old pastor? The power ratio in the relationship is heavily skewed. And what scenario exists where it’s legitimate for a 50-something aged person to seek such consent from a 16-17 year old?
I wish no ill on the pastor involved. He should be considered innocent until all evidence is carefully examined. People are often quick to judge religious leaders harshly when there’s even a hint of a problem. And sometimes other religious leaders quickly come to the attack as well. So I want to avoid that.
I will leave it to others to prosecute existing laws, especially in this particular case. But I hope these laws will be reexamined to protect minors better. In Indiana, you can’t be licensed to drive a car until you’re 16.5 and can’t have passengers until you’ve held that license for 6 months. You can’t vote until you’re 18. You can’t drink until you’re 21. So how on earth can you consent to sex with a much older adult at age 16? Next, if others would be involved in arranging for the two to be together in other states, would that not constitute manipulation, reducing the power of the teen to give consent? Separate these questions from this particular case. This kind of scenario, if it were to exist, should be against the law.
I also would not completely rule out that an adult might target a high-visibility leader to lure them into this kind of entanglement. It would be theoretically possible to manipulate both the young girl and the pastor. Of course, that’s no excuse. And there’s no evidence of it here that I’m aware of. But this also would seem to be a form of crime something like human trafficking.
So many potential issues are raised in a case like this. It gives us an opportunity to reflect and learn. Like the case of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, the biggest issue isn’t really sex. It’s the abuse of power. Somehow current consent laws need to take this into greater consideration. What do you think?