Details continue to emerge regarding last week’s murder of eight people at three different massage parlors in suburban Georgia.
The alleged gunman, Robert Aaron Long, reportedly told police his actions stemmed from a sex addiction he’s battling. Angry with himself, he apparently targeted women who enabled his desires.
It’s impossible to fathom how someone in that position would carry out such evil and horror – but that hasn’t stopped both the Washington Post and The New York Times from trying to pin the blame not just on Long, but his supposed belief system.
In short, reports in both papers have alluded to the 21-year-old’s self-described evangelicalism as the root of his actions, specifically a biblical sexual ethic that calls sex outside marriage sinful.
Sunday’s New York Times cited Dr. Brad Onishi, a “former” evangelical and now professor of religious studies.
Describing the religious environment he was raised in, Dr. Onishi noted, “We had a militant vigilance: Don’t let anything in the house that will tempt you sexually.” He went on to say his evangelicalism “teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.”
In Friday’s Washington Post, the reporters noted “Long’s ties to evangelicalism shine a light into a subculture called ‘purity culture,’ a belief among some evangelicals that promotes the idea that any sexual desire outside of marriage is lustful, and therefore sinful. Some evangelicals are taught from a young age to control their sexual urges and if they cannot, they are sometimes labeled sex addicts or porn addicts.”
Implied and insinuated in both instances is that the expectation to refrain from sexual intimacy until marriage somehow imposed a damaging and dangerous burden on Mr. Long. In other words, if he had not been so restrained and guilt-ridden, he wouldn’t have killed eight people in a deranged act of revenge.
To be clear, no sane person would do what Mr. Long did, so trying to draw any correlation or motivation between his violent actions and his supposed faith is reckless and irresponsible.
It’s interesting that when terrorists who profess the Islamic faith act out, there’s always a strong outcry suggesting their rogue actions don’t represent true Islam. But in Mr. Long’s case and others where individuals who profess Christianity attack others, reporters eagerly and enthusiastically try to draw parallels between faith and their fanaticism.
But getting back to the core of the issue, that a biblical sexual ethic is enslaving, the opposite is actually true.
Social science consistently shows that those in committed, monogamous marriages enjoy the deepest level of sexual satisfaction. It’s those who don’t commit and remain faithful to their spouse who report the highest degree of frustration and relationship failure.
There was once a millennia-old, cross-cultural understanding that marriage was the lifelong union of a man and a woman. This definition helped protect children born from that union. Indeed, bringing children into this world has historically been understood to be a primary function of marriage. In that sense, marriage, sex and childbearing were linked in the minds of people, and were usually linked in practice.
And then, in the 1960s, the Sexual Revolution happened. The events that took place during this period helped break the “iron triangle” of marriage, sex, and childbearing, which ushered in monumental changes in our nation’s collective worldview and culture.
God is in favor of His creation. He created sex to be enjoyed and fulfilling within the context of marriage. It is His wedding gift to us.
In so many ways, our culture is reaping the whirlwind of this departure from God’s plan.
Photo from Matt Burkhartt via Imagn Content Services, LLC/REUTERS