Sending the Wrong Message

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Warning: This commentary may not be suitable for younger readers.

The play is not exactly the stuff of Tony awards, but it does have its moments. It's called "Sex on a Saturday Night," and it features a naïve Princeton freshman named Joe who is about to go on his first date with an equally naïve girl named Frances. With his friends urging him to "score big," Joe takes his date to a remote love nest. The two become extremely drunk, and Frances passes out. So does Joe—but not before he violates his unconscious date.

The play is meant to be a morality tale about the dangers of alcohol abuse and date rape; all Princeton freshmen are required to attend. But as Princeton grad Christian Sahner writes in the Wall Street Journal, the play actually sends a far different message: It glorifies the destructive hook-up culture.

As Sahner writes, "Through crude jokes and [juvenile] stereotypes, [the play] drowns out the message about rape. Every one of the play's 10 characters (including one gay couple) is sexually active, [except] for the token abstainer, who comes off as hokey." The play gives freshman "the false sense that virtually all of their peers are sexually active." Equally bad is the fact that the play is silent about the dangers of hook-ups, Sahner notes—including pregnancy and the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases on college campuses.

Princeton officials claim they are not taking a position on the sex lives of students. Oh, sure. The underlying message of this play is that everyone is doing it—that is not neutral. As Sahner points out, the play teaches that when it comes to sex, the only moral principal involved is consent. Go ahead and hook-up—just make sure you are not too drunk to give, or receive, consent.

This is pitiful. Princeton officials need to wake up and smell the coffee—or at least, take a look at the evidence. There is a mountain of it—proof that the toxic hook-up culture is damaging our kids. Much of it comes from eyewitnesses to their misery.

For instance, UCLA psychiatrist Miriam Grossman was so appalled at the damage hook-ups were causing that she wrote a book called Unprotected. She notes that students who engage in multiple, casual encounters suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and self-abuse.

And ethics professor Vigen Guroian, who teaches at Maryland's Loyola College, says female students tell him that peer pressure and campus living arrangements make promiscuity "practically obligatory." Some college dorms even set aside a special "hook-up" room. In effect, Guroian says, colleges have gone into the "brothel business."

Princeton is not alone in requiring students to attend one-sided presentations about sex: Most colleges have some revolting variation on it. The answer is that alumni ought to step in—especially at fundraising time—and let the colleges know what they think about this kind of thing. And maybe older students should warn newcomers about the play's content; freshmen could then decide whether to attend or disobey the mandatory requirement.

But this is a classic example of why worldviews matter. When you hear people complain about the Christian worldview being repressive, tell them about Princeton. Christianity is anathema to the academics, who are left only with an everything-goes, permissive secularism that encourages self-destructive sexual promiscuity.

Anyone for a drama about abstinence? I bet you there are plenty of Princeton parents who are.


From BreakPoint®, September 27, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship