Moral Inconsistency

Nushawn Williams was every parent’s worst nightmare. A 21-year-old crack dealer, infected with the AIDS virus, Williams prowled around school yards in Chautauqua County, New York, and lured teenage girls into having sex in exchange for drugs. Williams was recently arrested for selling crack to a police officer. By then he had engaged in sex with more than 70 women. At least 10 girls—one of them just 13 years old—were infected by Williams with the AIDS virus. The story has horrified Americans. But almost as shocking to me as what Williams did is the way the news media is handling the story. The first reports invariably described Williams as a predator. The girls were referred to as "victims"—as though they’d been raped. But it turns out that Williams never resorted to force. Dozens of young women willingly had sex with a virtual stranger. What’s missing from news reports is any whisper that the girls could have avoided getting infected. How? By choosing not to engage in sex. Does it strike anyone as odd that our cultural elites constantly resist abstinence education? Abstinence education is religiously motivated, they say, and Christians must not impose their values on others. But abstinence is the one thing that might have saved the lives of these girls. Our cultural elites can’t have it both ways. A society that promotes casual sex is going to see people die of sexually transmitted diseases. The Williams case is a perfect example of the postmodern impasse. We want autonomy: We don’t want to be told what to do, and we want to do anything we please. But when we suffer the consequences, we’re outraged. People scream, "How could God allow such a thing to happen?" The answer is, He doesn’t—He tells us the right thing to do, and we just don’t listen. A similar example of the modernist impasse has to do with homosexuality and AIDS. Our cultural elites are telling people that homosexual behavior is perfectly normal. Just this past weekend, President Clinton spoke at a gay and lesbian rally. He told his audience that it’s time homosexuals were treated just like all other Americans—that homosexuality is no different from a disability, for example. Well, I for one take some offense at that, because I have a disabled grandson who’s autistic. He didn’t have any choice about his condition: He was born that way. We also hear homosexuality likened to skin color. People like Colin Powell correctly resent these comparisons. As the general has pointed out, African Americans are born black—but homosexual behavior is a choice. Certainly there may be genetic predispositions to some kinds of behavior. Even so, societies learn how to control their behavior in order to preserve civilization. What the president and others are telling homosexuals is that they don’t have to restrain their impulses. And yet, homosexual behavior is one of the primary channels for AIDS. So on the one hand we want to bring a killer like Nushawn Williams to justice—and rightly so. But at the same time, our cultural elites are promoting behavior that leads to the very thing we say we detest. If we want to be consistent, we’ll punish Williams and discourage premarital sex. And we should stop telling homosexuals that their impulses are normal. The sobering lesson of Nushawn Williams is that it’s time to get consistent about the moral message we give this nation.


Chuck Colson


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