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.
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.
I’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. Â 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 didnâ€™t choose and canâ€™t change, so long as I donâ€™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.Â A growing body of research conducted by leading scientists suggests that a large proportion of pedophiliac men â€” maybe a majorityâ€”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.”
MichaelÂ 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.
â€œ…if we think that some paedophiles are able to live healthy lives where they donâ€™t act on their sexual desires, why do some think this is impossible for homosexuals?â€
This isnâ€™t impossible for homosexuals, or at any rate certainly not for all homosexuals. It isnâ€™t impossible for heterosexuals either, or at any rate certainly not for all heterosexuals. So do we try to persuade heterosexuals that that is how they ought to lead their lives, whether or not? No, of course we donâ€™t, because, unlike in the case of paedophiles, there is no good reason why they should â€“ unless it is what they freely prefer. (Which isnâ€™t to say, of course, that anything goes and that any and every heterosexual behaviour is OK.) Ditto for homosexuals.
I would draw attention to the last answer to the FAQs on the website in question, which in part reads as follows:
â€œThere are no suitable consenting partners for us pedophiles, so we can never ethically express our sexuality with the people we are attracted to. Gay men and lesbians can find adult partners and form consensual relationships. That difference is all-important.â€
We’re not having a debate on the morality or otherwise of homosexual desire or practice. Rather, we’re discussing how there is any difference between the *ability* of one group of people to live a chaste life when compared to another.
And as it is, many paedophiles do have partners.
And you seem to have forgotten that nowhere does the Bible make the morality of a sexual act contingent on the sexuality of the human involved. “Heterosexual behaviour” in a biblical context does not refer to the sexual behaviour of heterosexuals but rather sexual behaviour that is heterosexual in practice.
Glad we sorted that one out.
Peter, you now seem to want to prescind from the sexuality of the humans involved, but that wasnâ€™t the obvious implication of your original question, where you asked not about adults who have sex with children, but about PAEDOPHILES, and not about people who engage in same-sex sexual behaviour, but about HOMOSEXUALS. Indeed, the website which is the subject of your post is primarily about people who have a specific sexuality, viz. one which involves sexual attraction to children (although not necessarily exclusively), but who donâ€™t put that attraction into practice. I donâ€™t see, in fact, that your question about whether homosexuals are not just as capable as paedophiles of living fulfilling lives without sexual expression can be a meaningful one if the sexuality of the humans involved is discounted. I agree, however, that if a particular action is wrong, then it is wrong for everyone. As the late Dominican Fr Gareth Moore observed, if certain people find it much easier than most people do to commit a particular sin, they donâ€™t on that account receive an indulgence to commit it.
It sounded to me as though you were asking, in effect, â€œIf we demand that paedophiles refrain from giving physical expression to their sexual attractions, why shouldnâ€™t homosexuals be expected to refrain likewise?â€, and I gave my answer to that question. If, however, what is under discussion is the *ability* of one group of people to live a chaste life when compared to another, is there in fact any difference? I wouldnâ€™t have thought so, but I donâ€™t honestly know. What do you think the answer, or the probable answer, is? What do other people think?
It sounded to me as though you were asking, in effect, â€œIf we demand
that paedophiles refrain from giving physical expression to their sexual
attractions, why shouldnâ€™t homosexuals be expected to refrain
No, what I asked was “If we thing paedophiles are capable of living chaste lives, why do some people think that homosexuals are not?”
Chastity might be easier when the negative consequences of failure are greater. Some paedophiles might be more aware of the fact that all expressions of paedophilia are child abuse.
SSA strugglers have the option of rationalizing failure as “consensual” – and so the guilt can be shared with another?
What are â€œSSA strugglersâ€ when theyâ€™re at home?
Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction.
Now that adults’ sexual desires have been placed above the basic human rights of children (i.e. the right to a mother and a father) it is hardly surprising that these people are now peeping out of the closet. Call me suspicious, but I think this is a case of the salami-slicing technique in action.
I don’t understand? Are you saying that the people behind this website *aren’t* interested in helping paedophiles live a chaste life?
No, not at all. I’m not a mind-reader. It’s simply that ‘feel my pain’ is the beginning of a well-trodden path which has been extraordinarly successful in these
Surely some of the sexual liberation of the past 50 years has enabled us to have an open discussion about different sexualities? In that sense “feel my pain” is extraordinarily useful for understanding those who want to live a chaste life despite their sexual brokenness.
Ahem! I think what we have here is a ‘generation gap’ issue. I don’t want people to feel my pain. I don’t want people to understand my sexual desires. In fact I don’t think my private inclinations are anybody else’s damn business. I’m not quite the ‘stiff upper lip’ type of my parents’ generation, but I feel it is in very poor taste to present one’s innermost thoughts for public scrutiny.
But apart from that, I object to the current idea that people have no control over their behaviour and cannot cope without support groups and hand-holding. If people are really serious about living chaste lives, let them just live chaste lives, as countless millions of others have done before them.
Generation Gap :-) – I’m saying nothing….
You do accept though that it simply isn’t a case of telling people to get on with it. In a highly sexualised world we need to provide clear support structures. So for some TFT, for others Virtuous Pedophiles…
I mean, it really helped me to know there were other Christians like me, struggling to remain chaste and live a holy life. Why not the same for paedophiles?
Okay, okay, that was most uncharitable of me, and I apologise. I think I must have got out of bed the wrong side. I regretted posting it almost immediately, but I do sometimes feel exasperated! I would support strugglers 100%, as I am sure you know.
This doesn’t reduce my suspicion of paedophiles wanting to ‘come out’, though.
It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Our generation tends to assume that talking about things and ‘getting support’ is always a good thing. I think Jill’s generation tend to think that ‘getting on with it’ is the healthiest way forward. When we have dreams about sleeping with our brother/sister, aunt/uncle we wake up feeling kind of disturbed and wondering if we ate too much cheese the night before. We don’t start analysing it and giving it more ‘thought space’. On the other hand, if thoughts have started to interfere with our lives and won’t be pushed to the back of our mind, maybe it is time to seek a friendly ear. But will a friendly ear be found?
‘Cold showers and lots of rugger’ is what they used to recommend to boys who harboured unsuitable thoughts! (Not sure about the rugger, though …)
It does seem to be a recent phenomenon, though, that people feel they should air their private thoughts publicly, and I believe this fosters the sense of entitlement that many have now – which is often at the expense of others.
I have vivid memories of listening with astonishment to my work colleagues gleefully discussing some ghastly TV show where couples tore each other apart in front of the cameras, egged on my some revolting presenter – can’t remember his name. I did wonder how these supposedly intelligent people (some older than me, even!!) could bear to watch such stuff.
It is my belief that the moral code in the Bible is geared to the common good, and not to the individualistic model which is now prevalent in Western society. Is there anything in the Bible that says we are entitled to personal fulfilment and happiness? Especially if it is at the expense of others? I don’t believe that homosexuality, paedophilia, or any other paraphilias, contribute to the common good, and the crop of current legislation favouring the first of these is a huge problem, setting one group off against others, and can only lead to mayhem and chaos. As we shall no doubt see before too long!
Problem is “cold showers and rugger” simply pushes down the problem rather than bringing it to the light and working through it. Most modern boarding schools now invest heavily and pastoral support and the grim Tom Brown’s School Days approach is long gone.
No, paedophilia obviously doesn’t contribute to the common good, but how do you help individuals who are paedophiles? Cold showers and rugby doesn’t work.
Well, I have tried neither of these tactics, so I couldn’t say. But answer me this – how come that since gay activism took off in a big way, and we started feeling sorry for people with homosexual inclinations, the numbers appear to have multiplied, along with the attendant HIV rates. How come since we made abortion legal because we felt sorry for people who resorted to backstreet abortions, the numbers have spiralled out of control. And since we started handing out condoms and the morning-after pill to young teens, the number of pregnancies has skyrocketed. I’m sure I don’t need to go on – but this liberalising has not had a good effect on society, I am sure you will agree.
Will we shortly be seeing a lot more paedophiles? I am pretty sure that it is a lot more common than we presently understand, but whilst it has societal disapproval it is under control to some degree.
Correlation does not equal causation
I suspect it will be “the beginning of a well-trodden path” for some and a way of minimising the risk of “acting out” for others. Either way self-identified paedophiles need to monitored far more closely than chaste Christians who are gay.
Joe, I’ve white-listed you so your comments no longer get held up for approval. No idea why it was happening, but fixed now.
Cheers, I did wonder if I had been placed on a ‘naughty list’ :-)
No, far from it. Disqus just moderates some people!
I have no issue with the idea that self-identified paedophiles should be helped to plan their activities in church in a manner that minimised temptation.
Yes, Joe, I am sure you are right.
I do remember when I first started tracking this stuff some years ago finding the NAMBLA website and reading some of the heart-rending stories of the very real persecution and ill-treatment endured by some of these people, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them – until I remembered that it was children who were involved! I still do feel sorry for anyone who has these feelings, but I cannot help but think that the softening-up process has begun in earnest. I think we can expect to see more and more websites like this one, and that they will become less benign.
What softening up process would that be, Jill? I have looked briefly through the website under discussion, and no matter what one may think of it, I can see no sign whatever that it is, or is intended to be, part of a softening up process. Have I missed something?
With regard to rugby â€“ which is one of the most boring things I know, almost as boring as ballet â€“ it certainly isnâ€™t a solution to the problem of paedophilia. I speak from my own experience as a former teacher (a job from which I eventually escaped): out of the male teachers sacked or prosecuted for sexual improprieties or offences with children a considerable number were keen rugby players. (Interestingly, one of them kindly informed me that being gay was inconsistent with my job.)
I see no evidence for the proposition that homosexuals have multiplied as a proportion of the population, and the idea that we have increased significantly in numbers is difficult to reconcile with the latest estimate (which you posted recently on the Anglican Mainstream website) that we are still only a measly 1.1% of the population (1.5% if you count bi-sexuals). What has happened over the years is a gradual and accelerating decrease in the number of gay people who consider their sexuality something that needs to be concealed â€“ an altogether positive development.
As you are such a careful reader of Anglican Mainstream’s website, Gugli, you will surely have noticed that in Massachussetts (where gay ‘marriage’ has been legal since 2004) homosexuality has become a lot more popular. I quote from MassResistance’s booklet on the subject:
‘As a result, many more children in Massachusetts appear to be self-identifying as â€œgay.â€ According to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, given to students in high schools across the state, between 2005 and 2009 both the percentage of kids â€œidentifying as gayâ€ and who had same-sex contact rose by approximately 50%. Although this bi-annual survey is unscientific and largely unreliable, it still shows a disturbing trend among those students who chose to answer the questions in this way. (At a minimum, it implies that these answers are being encouraged.)/end
I consider this to be deepy worrying. I don’t suppose all of the sexually confused youngsters will turn out to be gay in the way you understand it, but it implies that they are experimenting with extremely risky behaviour which could affect their whole lives.
But this is all straying off-topic; my main point is that once taboos are lifted the slippery slope heaves into view.
Jill, same-sex experimentation in adolescence has always been a common phenomenon. The vast majority of those who engage in experimentation of this kind grow up heterosexual. A minority of those who engage in it will grow up homosexual, but so will a minority of those who donâ€™t. It was ever thus. People who were at school many decades ago, when â€œhomosexualityâ€ was seldom mentioned, much less discussed except in whispers, have been able to recall goings-on behind the bike-sheds etc. Even if it has increased in Massachusetts â€“ and it is admitted in the passage which you have quoted that the survey is â€œunscientific and largely unreliableâ€ â€“ the suggestion that this is somehow connected with the introduction of gay marriage is very far-fetched indeed.
Iâ€™m not sure what you mean exactly by the slippery slope which â€œheaves into viewâ€, but it sounds from what you wrote a couple of posts back as though you are trying to hint that a decent and civilized attitude to homosexuality is making paedophilia more acceptable. If so, this is patent nonsense. Peter said at the start of this thread, â€œI will not accept any comments attempting to discuss a direct link between paedophilia and homosexuality.â€ But even so, you couldnâ€™t resist the temptation to work in SOMEHOW the silly suggestion that it is necessary to abuse homosexuals in order to protect children from paedophiles, could you?
This thread is now clearly off-topic (and I’m not blaming anyone). We’re discussing pastoral support for paedophile, not homosexuality per se.
Please keep on topic or I will start deleting comments. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation on pastoral care, please move on to another post.
I wonder how long it will be before the church is being told by campaigners that it should apologise for the way it has treated paedophiles… But the truth is that children are so vulnerable and abuse its so serious that we have to treat them with suspicion. Their pastoral support can’t be detached from concern for the harm that would result from them acting on their desires.
What I do agree with Jill is that there is the subtle danger brought about the stock-in-trade acceptance of self-identification as a valid reality, although only derived from the world of psychology.
Dr. Blanchard states: 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.
So, absent any outward expression of ‘harm’, the attraction itself becomes morally neutral. You ask the question: ‘Are we a place where people struggling with all kinds of sexual brokenness (like this) will feel comfortable sharing with the leadership?’
Well, I’m again with Jill on this. Why the hell should the sharing of such abominable desires be a comfortable experience? Why shouldn’t it be excruciatingly difficult?
If many did share their inner demons with Christ, it wasn’t because it was a comfortable experience. The Samaritan woman at the well squirmed over her past sexual history. No, if anything, it was because, however strong the medicine he prescribed, they experienced an assurance that it was guaranteed to cure them. Pastorally, the same medicine is here today. Christ was not averse to warning one He cured of the great danger of recidivism. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, â€œSee, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.â€ (John 5:14)
The key aspect of a biblically-grounded pastoral response is to reach out and lead a person to discover and find peace with divine justice in God’s reality: their potential, as a unique individual, to have a redeemed identity in Christ.
Encouraging a person to self-identify as paedophiliac involves an acceptance of such a sexual attraction towards children per se as inherent and morally neutral, It is also involves a rejection of their potential in Christ’s realm and power to be otherwise.
While I have a hard time accepting his views on entire sanctification, I do think that Charles Finney understood the effect of the cross when explained sensibly: ‘Now nothing is wanting to slay any and every sin, but for the mind to be fully baptized into the death of Christ, and to see the bearings of one’s own sins upon the sufferings and agonies and death of the blessed Jesus. Let me state a fact to illustrate my meaning.
A habitual and most inveterate smoker of tobacco, of my acquaintance, after having been plied with almost every argument to induce him to break the power of the habit, and relinquish its use, in vain, on a certain occasion, lighted his pipe and was about to put it to his mouth, when the inquiry was started, did Christ die to purchase this vile indulgence for me? He hesitated, but the inquiry pressed him, Did Christ die to purchase this vile indulgence for me? The relation of this conduct to the death of Christ, instantly broke the power of the habit, and from that day he has been free.
1. The fact that a paedophile doesn’t perform a physical act of molestation does not preclude other offences that are more difficult to detect, such as downloading child porn. The effect of de-criminalisation (and I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing) has been to validate homosexual acts.
Agreed. While such a connection is discredited, there is data that contrasts with that sort of inference. There is clear statistical evidence that orientation can be influenced by molestation experiences: http://www.benthamscience.com/open/topsyj/articles/V003/36TOPSYJ.pdf
While it resist any inference of causality, the study states: ‘Perhaps the most salient finding is that 68.0% of the gay men and 66.7% of the lesbian women who had been homosexually molested maintained it had an impact on their sexual orientation. Although it is an important finding, it is not known what various participants meant by â€œimpact.â€…It should be borne in mind that 52.9% of the men and 41.5% of the women reported impact from heterosexual molestation.
Another important finding is that ‘a majority of molested lesbian/bisexual women (57.6%) and gay/bisexual men (78.6%) in the study found the experience to be pleasurable is consistent with the meta-analysis of Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman , which concluded that most molested children or adolescents do not regard the experience as highly traumatic. This, of course, should not be interpreted as meaning that molestations should usually be regarded as an inconsequential event.’
So, further research is required to find out what sort of impact, but we cannot rule out the possibility that molestation during a person’s formative years can have an significant impact on sexual orientation. The evidence points to a more pronounced effect of molestation on homosexual orientation without suggesting that their orientation would *necessarily* be otherwise, absent the molestation.
If future findings point in this direction, what impact would a ‘some people (not all) have been molested that way’ view have on the Church’s approach to homosexuality. Would there be the same level of rage, or would compassion overflow? Could it be that *some* of those who are most angry at homosexuals in authority positions in the church were ‘molested that way’?
Okay, Peter, it’s off-topic, so delete if you must.
I think it’s interesting David, thanks. Whilst it might be true that some paedophiles download child porn, I think the aim of groups like this is to enable the avoidance of all these kinds of behaviours, not just the physical “acting out”.
Your final comment is a key one in all this, to my mind at least. And it is not just about people speaking to their leaders, but also speaking whilst being a leader. My mind goes back to the situation with Mike Guglimuchi (sp?) and his addiction to porn that he never spoke about and got so sick they thought he had cancer. When it finally came out it was so big a problem and the lies so prevalent that it destroyed his marriage and his first wife and kids had to look on as he went into another relationship while still dealing with the fact that he had never been dying from cancer all that time.
One can only imagine the potential torment of those with gifts in leadership who also have pedophilic thoughts, as I would imagine they would be constantly questioning why they should be a leader if they have such thoughts and desires, which will both be personally damaging and, if they are in leadership, damaging to their role and the people they lead.
Pastors are just as fallen and broken as everyone else and that means that they will struggle with all kinds of things. However, like all temptation that does not in and of itself disqualify them from leadership and indeed, it can be quite refreshing to know that someone in a position of responsibility in a church is “just like me”.
I completely agree, but the issue you raised at the end of your piece raises the high probability that those in leadership will find it hard to admit to such thoughts and feelings and, just as the first quoted example says, they will experience thoughts of being evil just for what they think and feel, rather than seeking help.
It raises the fact that, as far as I can see, there is still a long way to go before the Church is seen as a place where anyone can admit that they are tempted, because some temptations are seen as far worse than others, or that they can stop the tempted from fulfilling the gifting they have been given by God.
This (for example) is why TFT has a private pastors group – so those in church leadership CAN find support.