Wow, it is absurd to use these two words together. I was reading an article about the Mormon churches conference this past weekend wondering if they were going to address the recent allegations against a former MTC president. This is where I ran into the phrase ‘non-consensual immorality.’ This phrase was used in a talk by Quentin L. Cook, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This was one of the only references to sexual misconduct in the whole conference.

Using that phrase implies that the victim, you know the one that isn’t consenting to said act, in that moment is not being moral. So, to put it in more frank terms, the woman that gets raped committed a non-consensual immorality implying that she is no longer moral. Non-consensual immorality was condemned, yet he reminded the crowd that consensual immorality must also be condemned. In doing this, he lumped all participants, rapist/victim and consensual sexual partners, into the same sinful pile. This makes no sense.

I’m flabbergasted that a leader of such an influential institution would say something like that. It is the obligation of a moral leader to explicitly state that sexual assault has no moral bearing on the victim and that perpetrators must suffer the consequences of their actions through the legal system. They should encourage victims to come forward. They should make clear that the church is committed to investigating any and all accusations in order to keep their members safe from sexual assault. Instead, they made an unclear statement that is open to interpretation. They should have chosen to clear it up that following Sunday through a church wide statement read aloud by the bishop. But they chose to continue to muddy the water.

It seems incredibly tone deaf for the moment right now. It seems like saying this further ingrains the cultural impulse to blame the victim in assault cases. What does a woman have to do to have a credible allegation in the eyes of the public? How do we make a shift away from this when moral leaders are preaching to do the opposite?

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