Virtuous

Over the weekend I’ve been pointed to a fascinating website. Before you click through if you’re at work, be aware that I consider it a perfectly safe site but you probably want to wait until you’re home to view it. Trust me.

Here you go.

Wow. I found this quite interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have the testimony of a number of paedophiles who are quite determined never to act out their sexual desires.

Microphone - Virtuous PedophilesI’m in my mid-60s and married, with four adult children. I have advanced degrees from prestigious universities, a very good job, a lot of friends and am well respected in my community.

I am also a pedophile. I am sexually attracted to boys in the early stages of puberty (typically ages 12-14).

I’ve never touched a child in any way that could be considered remotely sexual, and am confident I never will.   I’ve resisted my sex drive for more than fifty years, and I’m long past the age where acting on it is even a remote possibility. I know that many children have been harmed by pedophiles, and I refuse to do anything that could harm a child.

On various occasions, I’ve suffered from low self-esteem and even self-hatred as a result of my pedophilia, feeling that I was somehow immoral as a result of being attracted to kids, even though I never acted on that attraction. With the help of a supportive psychologist, I came to understand that there’s nothing morally wrong with being attracted to children as long as I don’t have sexual contact with them. I did not choose my sexual orientation, and there is nothing I can do to change it. I cannot be evil simply because I have sexual feelings that I didn’t choose and can’t change, so long as I don’t act on those feelings. In hindsight this strikes me as obvious, but it wasn’t at all obvious at the time, and the realization that I am not evil was enormously helpful.

In addition to my sexual attraction to boys, I am also sexually attracted to adult women, though my attraction to boys is stronger. I feel that being married to a woman whom I love deeply has helped me deal with my pedophilia.

I consider pedophilia to be similar in certain respects to diabetes. It’s a serious chronic condition, but a manageable one. Another helpful comparison is the Cullens in the Twilight saga: vampires who are able to resist their thirst for human blood and live morally upstanding lives.

Secondly, there’s a good section on the site on the scientific debate over causation.

“People do not choose to be attracted to children or adults any more than they choose to be attracted to males or females.Not all pedophiles are child molesters (or vice versa). Child molesters are defined by their acts; pedophiles are defined by their desires. There are pedophiles and hebephiles who never act on their sexual attraction towards children. They cannot be blamed for what they feel, and they should be supported for the constant self-restraint they must exercise in order to behave ethically.”

Dr. Ray Blanchard, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto; Former Head of Clinical Sexology Services in the Law and Mental Health Program of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Served on the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV and on the DSM-5’s Work Group on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders.

“My heart goes out to people to whom nature has given something as powerful and as distracting as a sex drive and no healthy way to express it. Pedophiles are not the only folks in this position, but they are by far the most demonized, regardless of whether they have ever actually caused anyone any kind of harm. There is no known way of turning a pedophile into a nonpedophile. The best we can do is help a person maximize their self-control and to help them build an otherwise happy and productive life.”

Dr. James Cantor, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Head of the Law and Mental Health Research Section of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; editor-in-chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Sexual Aggression, The Journal of Sex Research, and Archives of Sexual Behavior.

“I used to think that almost all pedophiles were destined to molest children, but I’ve changed my mind. A growing body of research conducted by leading scientists suggests that a large proportion of pedophiliac men — maybe a majority—have never touched a child sexually. I have for years felt sympathy for pedophiles and thought that society should do better by them. Such men never choose to be attracted to children or adolescents. They have a burden that most of us do not have, and they should be helped more and demonized less. I used to think that help would likely entail biological treatments, including chemical or surgical castration. Now I think help beyond the biochemical option is vital. Many can resist their urges without it, and we ought to make it easier for them to do the right thing. Making them feel that they are worthless and despised can only make it more difficult for them.”

Michael Bailey, Professor, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University

Finally, it raises some uncomfortable questions for the church. Are we a place where people struggling with all kinds of sexual brokenness (like this) will feel comfortable sharing with the leadership? Will we give them an appropriate response?

And beyond those kind of questions, if we think that some paedophiles are able to live healthy lives where they don’t act on their sexual desires, why do some think this is impossible for homosexuals? What’s the difference in the basic question of chastity? Do answer below.

Please note, I will not accept any comments attempting to discuss a direct link between paedophilia and homosexuality. That is not the purpose of this post. The only comparison made in this post is between two separate sexualities being able to remain chaste. I am clearly not suggesting that homosexuals are paedophiles and will not take kindly to comments that infer anything to that effect. Glad we got that sorted.