All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
By David Tulis
The arrest of private school soccer coach Jimmy Weekley on charges of solicitation for prostitution gives us a glimpse into the trials that sometimes are part of married life, and into the exercise of city police power in protection of marriage.
Mr. Weekley is head coach of the Baylor team that has won many soccer matches in the region. He was arrested Nov. 13 after being entrapped by a woman police officer in a sting that started with a police department ad for sex on a website.
He came under arrest when he and the woman discussed money in exchange for intercourse.
“In a weak moment, I made a poor decision,” Mr. Weekley said. “I have hurt my wife and my family, and disgraced my employer and team by my actions. I accept full responsibility. Toward that end, I have entered family counseling and have tendered my resignation to Baylor School. I apologize and deeply regret my actions and those I have hurt and whose trust I have broken.”
A bright light cast on marriage
Mr. Weekley has engaged an attorney to help acquit him in a case in city court, a municipal corporation venue that handles offenses against city ordinances and is a preliminary forum for serious cases. City court disposes of accusations by a judge’s acting as a justice of the peace, sitting without a jury, in a function that rushes minor cases through without the legal necessities that would bog down the system with jury trials.
The Weekley household is in private torment because Mr. Weekley is alleged to have violated his vows as a husband. Marriage is a sacred institution. It is ordained, according to the oldest record extant, since the first man and woman were created from the dust of the earth. His intimacy with Mrs. Weekley, his wife, is severed. The intended violation of his marital covenant casts a pall into every room of his house, from the utility closet to the bedroom.
Mr. Weekley is not charged with a violating marital vow, however. He is charged with solicitation to prostitution. Prostitution is suppressed in Chattanooga under the authority of the city charter to maintain public order. It has authority
to prohibit and suppress gambling houses, disorderly houses, bawdy houses, obscene pictures and literature ***. (Priv. Acts 1949, Ch. 536, § 2)
The charter gives the city power
[t]o define, prohibit, suppress, prevent and regulate all acts, practices, conduct, business, occupation, callings, trades, uses of property, and all other things whatsoever detrimental to the health, morals, comfort, safety, convenience or welfare of the inhabitants of the city
In oppressing prostitution as a detriment to morals, city government upholds indirectly the promise of marriage. Tennessee law declares marriage as an essential element of civilized society.
The code, for its part, spells out city authority as granted by the state. The code prohibits prostitution in Title 25 under a section titled “offenses against morals.” Prostitution and aiding and abetting are oppressed. No one is allowed to “[k]eep or set up a house of ill fame, brothel or bawdy house” or to “[r]eceive any person for purposes of assignation or prostitution into any vehicle, conveyance, place, structure or building.”
The city has police power over sex, but it is limited. Private sexual relations between two consenting adults are beyond the city’s express power, and should be understood to be solely in the purview of those whom the state constitution refers to as a “free people” (declaration of rights, article 1, section 24). The state claims no power to regulate what Christianity would call sins and acts of immorality — adultery, fornication or homosexual sexual relations. But it suppresses those forms of human sexuality that enter the stream of commerce.
Public value of a private household grief
The Weekley scandal is a sensation on talk shows and in the sports media. It applies not just to athletics, but also the idea of marriage, family and domestic happiness in one Southern city.
If Mr. Weekley is a practicing Christian his act brings him to the notice of church courts. Ordinarily, in public scandal in the church, a man comes under discipline, is denied the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and makes public confession of sin and expresses desire to reconcile with God for offending His law and his aggrieved wife. She is commanded to forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven. Church government seeks repentance and restoration.
Marriage is a public act, a public holding forth of a union between a man and his wife. Infidelity, whether intended or consummated, is a breach of that public union. The Weekleys’ marriage is highly in public view after his arrest. The sensation of the news stories arises from a right understanding of the gap between the substance and the form in marriage. The drama of the story touches not just the legal shell that is marital union, but the internal workings of two human beings committed to loving each other and staying together as one flesh until death do them part.
City council, with the aid of member Jerry Mitchell, today is attacking marriage. It reduces the status of marriage to that of a homosexual civil union, which it claims authority to create as a matter of law. As against the wobbly council, marriage is at the pinnacle of human relationships, and stands as the ideal for the domestication of man and the security of woman. Violation of its covenant in the case of a humiliated local family doesn’t diminish marriage’s claims.
It enhances and affirms them.
Sources: Beth Burger, “Baylor coach resigns over prostitute sting,” Chattanooga Times Free Press website, Nov. 22, 2013
“Baylor Soccer Coach Weekley Resigns After He Is Caught In Prostitution Sting; 13 Others Charged,” Chattanoogan.com, Nov. 21, 2013
Megan Brantley, “Allegations against Baylor coach shock former students and athletes,” TV3, wrcbtv.com, Nov. 21, 2013
City of Chattanooga charter, Title 2