Scottish age of consent non-consultation

** [Update: It appears from what I heard this evening that the consultation period may have been extended for another week. If you feel strongly about it and missed the Fri 14th deadline it can’t do any harm to write.] ** 

Email from the Christian Institute this morning:

We discovered only yesterday that the Scottish Government has been holding an extremely low key consultation on radical plans for sweeping changes to the age of consent law.

The deadline for responding to the consultation is tomorrow (Friday, 14 March).

For a Christian Institute briefing that sets out the proposals, click on this link:

For contact details and tips for writing, click on this link:

The consultation is a response to a Scottish Law Commission report published in December 2007. The Commission’s recommendations include legalising sex between children both aged 13 to 15.

The proposals will also permit those over 16 to engage in certain forms of sexual activity with someone no more than two years younger.

Under the plans a 15 year-old could legally engage in homosexual activity with a 13 year-old boy; a 15-year-old boy could have sex with a girl aged 13.

Please respond to this consultation. It is vital that as many Christians as possible object to these proposals.

Please pray:
* That the Scottish Government would drop these horrific plans.
* That there would be fair and widespread media coverage of this matter.
* For the staff of the Institute as they work on this issue.

If you read this in time and can possibly respond to the consultation please do.

11 thoughts on “Scottish age of consent non-consultation

  1. Some questions really: what punishment should a 14 year old suffer for sex with someone their age? (It’s one thing to think it shouldn’t happen, but another to think what to do about the fact that it does).

    And what do we make of the research that indicates that, in a western conctext, kids that are better educated, and particularly better educated about sex, are less likely to engage in it at such early ages?

    Do we think that in this kind of matter the law should aim at being punitive, reformatory, deterrent or what?

    Why are the examples only about boys actively having sex while the other parties are implicitly portrayed as passive? Is this a re-run of the woman caught in adultery where some parties are more guilty than others? Does this reaction reveal more about our possibly Pharisaic tendencies than we would ideally like the world to see in Christians?

    Is the word “horrific” really appropriate: where do we go from here to find adjectives for the truly horrific, like children dying of AIDS, malnutrition and the effects of warfare?


  2. “better educated about sex”

    Do you really mean taught that sexual activity is for the generation of children and the mutual comfort of the spouses within the bond of marriage?


  3. Berenike. I see [?] where you’re going with #3 and I think that’s a good point but still would refer you to the parenthetical comment accompanying my first question and take it a step further in asking whether and to what extent we should impose Christian morals on those who do not share our perspective? I also note that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures mention without comment marriages contracted where one party would appear to be in this age group.

    As to sexual activity and education at #4:
    In connection with which you might like to consider my comments from a ‘radical Evangelical’ perspective here:
    and further interesting dimension here:
    And also here:


  4. What bothers me most is the message its sending to our 13yr olds.

    What does a wee girl say to her boyfriend when he tells her “But its legal now… that means its ok.”? That is a painful reality.

    It’s hard enough doing what we believe is right and resisting peer pressure when we are adults, never mind as teenagers trying to establish their own identity in the world who often do not know yet what they believe.

    The law is there to help safeguard our young people from messing up their lives. The fact its not doing its job is the point that needs addressing. This change in the law is just side-stepping the issue.

    We cannot protect children completely. But we can give them the message that we want them to protect themselves.


  5. ** Update **

    Heard today (2nd hand) that the consultation period has been extended for a week.

    That’s just word of mouth, but if you feel strongly about it and missed the Fri 14th deadline it can’t do any harm to write.


  6. To andii #5: We can’t force anyone to follow “our” morals. 1. Its not possible for practical reasons. 2. Christian morality is an attitude of heart, not a following of rules and regulations.

    But we can set a right example. We can set a standard that is worth aiming for. And explain and justify why it is worth aiming for.

    Though as a Christian I believe these standards should be followed out of love to God, yet nevertheless there is also scientific evidence supporting the benefits (psycological, educational, emotional, etc?) of many aspects of Christian morality.

    We do not cite these as the reason why they should be followed, yet they nevertheless serve as a justification for “imposing” them on others.

    “Oh I’m sorry, I should stop encouraging you to live your life in a way that will improve it or even just avoid some of the horrible consequences.”

    ‘Encouragement’ enshrined in law is perhaps one of the few ways of safeguarding practices that are not natural to the sinful human heart.

    We all tend to wickedness (and in so doing, also harm ourselves… for the pragmatic argument) and it is only by strong incentive not to do something sinful that there is ever any restraint. Law is one means of giving that incentive.

    However, to change tack a little :-) , I fully accept your devils-advocate: there is such a thing as mis-use of authority, demanding too much ‘trivial’ submission to “our opinion” as a power-play game; there is such a thing as too many restrictive laws “Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”; there is also a lack of answers to pressing questions of today for young people.

    But there needs to be a balance of all these things – the only way we will ever see the balance is to stop focusing on all the particulars and relying on our own (flawed) reasoning – however intelligent we are, and however coherent our logic… “Let God be true and every man a liar”… – and instead primarily focusing on Christ. Meditating on Him, praying to Him, keeping Him at the forefront of our thoughts.

    By all means bring as many things as we can understand to bear on the issue, but submitting all our reasoning in humility in prayer to God.

    Yes, this applies to me and my answers as much as to yours! But I think I need to be reminded of the true perspective too, instead of getting so much “righteous indignation” heated up and fighting my corner!

    The battle is the Lords. He alone knows the “ultimate answer” and it is only through Him that we will ever make progress towards it.


  7. Thanks Rach for recognising that I was being provocative. I don’t have such a thing as an easy answer but I do know that there would be further complications from over-easy answers -such as pretending that the current situation works.

    I don’t think that it is good for sex to take place outside of marriage (or to be a bit more accepting of pluralist settings, marriage-like situations). On health grounds there are clear stats that show there are negative health consequences over populations for early sexual activity, particularly for women. If we are serious about reducing underage sexual activity, it does seem to me, though that we need to do two things. One is to pay attention to the fact that sex education helps (and deal with the fact that this seems counter-intuitive to many of us), and secondly to recognise that approaching it primarily from a Christian moral perspective may be counter-productive in the current cultural climate. There is too much Christendom baggage for us to get a hearing. Indeed we may actually be making it harder for people to hear the more important aspects of what we want to say.

    I do agree that the message of lowering the age may be counterproductive. I note though the question of what we do with the offenders below whatever age is set is still to be answered, and that is a pressing question that I would encourage people here to face up to. In addition the education issue may help, even if people then make choices we don’t like they will do so less often and at least mitigate the worst consequences of those choices (which we all end up paying for). And we do need to pay attention to the socio-economic dimensions or else it just looks like middle-class do-goodery (or worse)

    If ‘we’ are to oppose things like this, then it does seem to me that we have a moral burden to propose workable alternatives that address the issues being faced. Sticking our heads in the sand -which is what simple opposition amounts to in this case- is not responsible citizenship. At the very least this should be a call to concerned Christians to grapple, with realism and wisdom, with the hard facts.

    There is a difference, imho, between making a case encouraging good behaviour and imposing a perspective in a way that seems arbitrary and oppressive. I’m not advocating ceasing to stand against promiscuity (for all sorts of reasons), but I am saying we need to make cases that will make sense for the many not just the few and which face up to the realities.


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