Clayton Cramer is one of the few bloggers that regularly discusses the issues of age of consent and statutory rape. He also tends to have a bizarre obsession with homosexuality. Though he is a professional historian with a modicum of credibility. So I thought it would be interesting to get him involved in a discussion touched off by one of Jason Kuznicki's Positive Liberty posts via a post by Classically Liberal on the matter. The post discusses the modern notion of "adolescence," how for much of Western history, teens were regarded as adults and hence eligible for marriage and consequently sex.
I have actually made it clear that I don't mind the idea of adolescene and do not think that young teens are adults or age appropriate for sex. In the email I sent to him I wrote:
Note, I tend to DISAGREE with the anti-adolescent thrust because I think society in the modern era learns new things and rightly casts off outdated traditions. And I think we know better now that 12 and 13 year olds are not adults. But for most of the "Judeo-Christian" history, we apparently didn't understand this.
So how does Mr. Cramer take this all in?
Jonathan Rowe, who also posts at Positive Liberty, has frequently argued that marriages as young as 13 have been so long accepted in Christianity as part of his defense that there's nothing intrinsically wrong about sex with young teenagers....
Again, I usually make clear every time I post on this that I don't approve of young teen sex, certainly not between young teens and adults. I suppose Cramer could try to defend his arguably libelous statement by focusing on the word "intrinsically." I'm not sure if I can argue consensual sex between an adult and a consenting post-pubescent teen is "intrinsically" wrong; but his post gives the impression that I approve of this when I made clear I do not.
Importantly, I don't think Mr. Cramer can argue there is anything intrinsically wrong with this either (provided the sex take place within a heterosexual marriage). Mr. Cramer is an evangelical-fundamentalist Christian. The Bible forbids fornication and homosexuality. There is no biblical text (of which I am aware) that states young teens may not get married because sex between an "adult" and a young teen is "intrinsically wrong."
Likewise I don't see any kind of natural law case to be made either. [Mr. Cramer doesn't hold too much regard for the natural law, in any event.] A natural law argument can be made against real pedophilia -- if a child hasn't reached puberty, nature instructs that he or she isn't ready for sex because children are naturally infertile. But, accordingly, once the child is fertile at puberty, nature says they are ready for sex. Usually that's 12 for girls and 13 for boys. And those are very ages of the Jewish Bar at Batmitzfas, which literally "founded" the Judeo-Christian tradition on when a child becomes an adult, with all consequent adult responsibilities.
Cramer does provide interesting evidence showing that, in the historic past, people commonly waited until their 20s before marrying. But he provides NO evidence of marriages from 12-15 year old being illegal in colonial America or even at all in Judeo-Christian history. The closest he gets is:
Rodney Stark's book about the rise of Christianity points out that Roman law allowed marriage (not just betrothal) of girls as young as 12 years old--in a time when puberty was often delayed by poor nutrition. (And the law was not always followed.) Christianity, by strongly encouraging delaying of marriage until 18 or so, dramatically reduced both the physical and emotional trauma of too early sexualization of girls. Stark's view is that this is one of the reasons why Christianity grew so fast: marriages were less likely to cause physical damage that would impair later reproduction.
We need to know more about "strongly encouraging delaying of marriage until 18." One the basis of what laws or policies? And I'd like the see the theological justification for it as well.