Assault & Alcohol
Alcohol and Assault
There’s a public service-type announcement that I’ve been hearing on the radio recently that says 1 in 5 women report being sexually assaulted in college. 1 in 5!
With three young women here who will be in college in the next year or two, this should grab our attention.
Some people doubt the accuracy of such statistics. How can it be? When I shared this on Facebook, one friend of mine commented:
“Statistics of this sort (a similar 1-in-4 claim about sexual assault in college has been floating around for years) generally seem outlandish to me. Mainly because if people genuinely believed this, I cannot comprehend that they would send their daughters to college. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for a 20%+ chance of getting raped is not a deal any vaguely sane person would make.”
Well, he has a point. Certainly scary stuff. But there’s more to the story. The radio ad goes on to say that alcohol was a factor in over half of the assaults. I did some research, and this study reported similar findings:
Among those assaulted, percentage who had been drinking alcohol just prior to the incident: 62%. This fits a trend reported by nih.gov that “At least one-half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both (Collins and Messerschmidt 1993).
And that’s really the point I want to explore in our lesson today. The fact is, being intoxicated makes people more likely to do things they wouldn’t normally do, and more vulnerable to the assaults of others.
II. Drunk = Vulnerable
Let’s look at a few examples:
Gen. 9:20-23 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness.
This is exactly how many young women end up being assaulted. Noah was drunk and naked, passed out, as we would say. In that state, he was incapacitated. He was unable to cover himself, to protect his dignity or privacy. He was totally vulnerable.
From the beginning of time, people have known that if you want to have your way with someone, you can subdue them with alcohol. Remember what happened to Lot.
Gen. 19:30-33 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
The following night, the other daughter did the same thing. In both cases, it says Lot “did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” The fact is, the daughters raped him. That’s how it is defined. He did not consent to their plan. It seems clear they knew he would not consent, or else why would they have gotten him drunk?
They used alcohol to get him incapacitated so they could do what they wanted. And it’s been going on ever since. How many people over the years have woken up, unsure of what happened the night before?
The Lord has strong words for people who use alcohol to take advantage of others:
Hab. 2:15-16 “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! 16 You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the Lord's right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory!
And it’s not only sexual assault that one is vulnerable to when intoxicated. Remember when David’s son Absalom plotted to kill his half-brother Amon for raping Absalom’s sister? Notice how he went about it:
2 Sam. 13:28-29 Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.
Same thing happened to a little-known king of Israel named Elah.
1 Kings 16:8-10 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years. 9 But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, 10 Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.
The point is that when someone is drunk, they are vulnerable. This is described very well in the familiar proverb.
Prov. 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
This highlights at least two other dangers. Not only is the drunk person vulnerable, but he is also more likely to “utter perverse things.” In fact, many people say and do things when under the influence that they would never do in their right mind. Some people become mean and abusive, get into fights, hit their family members—but only when they’re drunk.
Also, the addictive nature of wine is seen here: when shall I awake? I must have another drink. Not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic, but many do. And even though they are aware of the danger and the harm it is causing, they can only think of the next drink.
III. Vulnerable to the Enemy
In a more general sense, we can see that intoxication makes us vulnerable to being assaulted by our real enemy.
1 Pet. 5:8-9 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
If Satan is prowling around looking for a victim, we need to be sober-minded so we can resist him. Obviously, if someone is drunk, they are vulnerable to the lion’s attack. Not only is drunkenness a sin, it generally leads to other sins—both committing them and being a victim of others.
IV. Way of the Gentiles
Let’s circle back to the college assault issue. Basically, the party environment on many campuses is essentially like the way of the Gentiles that Peter describes:
1 Pet. 4:1-3 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
When you have single, young adults, fueled by hormones, looking for someone to hook-up with, and you add in alcohol, dancing, etc., you’ve got the perfect storm for someone to be groping or even not taking “no” for an answer.
As Christians, we can’t run with those in that scene.
1 Pet. 4:4-5 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
There’s a very simple way to drastically cut your risk of sexual assault, and even those in the study I cited at the beginning know this.
When asked what students can do to help the problem (combining responses for “somewhat” and “very” effective): 93% said “men respect women more,” and 77% said “drink less alcohol.”
More than ¾ recognize that alcohol is part of the problem. But sadly, for many people, getting drunk is part of how they have fun, whether it’s at a ballgame, a backyard cookout, the lake, a bonfire, or hanging out with friends.
The fact is, there are plenty of wholesome ways to have fun without being drunk or drugged. People seem to think that God’s rules keep us from having fun, but in fact he leads us in the way that is best for us. The world may think we’re crazy or strange, but who cares. The Shepherd leads us beside the still waters, in paths of righteousness. If you walk that way, you’ll never regret it!