60 Second Summary: Paedophilia: Bringing Dark Desires to Light

Articles you need to know about, summarized in 60 seconds (or less).

The Article: Paedophilia: Bringing Dark Desires to Light

The Source: The Guardian

The Author: Jon Henley

The Gist: Academic and psychological experts disagree about what causes pedophilia, how much harm it causes, and whether it should be more tolerated by society.

The Excerpt:

There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Two eminent researchers testified to that effect to a Canadian parliamentary commission last year, and the Harvard Mental Health Letter of July 2010 stated baldly that paedophilia “is a sexual orientation” and therefore “unlikely to change”.

[. . .]

Even now there is no academic consensus on that fundamental question – as Goode found. Some academics do not dispute the view of Tom O’Carroll, a former chairman of PIE and tireless paedophilia advocate with a conviction for distributing indecent photographs of children following a sting operation, that society’s outrage at paedophilic relationships is essentially emotional, irrational, and not justified by science. “It is the quality of the relationship that matters,” O’Carroll insists. “If there’s no bullying, no coercion, no abuse of power, if the child enters into the relationship voluntarily … the evidence shows there need be no harm.”

The Bottom Line: In the mid-1990s, the late Joseph P. Overton, proposed the “Overton Window” which describes a “window” in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse. All issues fall somewhere along this policy continuum, which can be roughly outlined as: Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible, Popular, Policy. When the window moves or expands, ideas can accordingly become more or less politically acceptable.

In the summer of 2011, I wrote an article for First Things explaining how the Overton model developed to explain adjustments in the political climate and later applied it to how pedophilia would be normalized. The first step—from Unthinkable to Radical—usually occurs when the topic of an academic symposium. We passed this stage several years ago.

The second step—from Radical to Acceptable—often requires the creation and employment of euphemism, such as referring to pedophiles as “minor-attracted persons”, and connecting it to an issue that has already become acceptable, such as the acceptance of wide variety of sexual orientations. As Henley says in his article,

The reclassification of paedophilia as a sexual orientation would, however, play into what [Sarah Goode, a senior lecturer at the University of Winchester] calls “the sexual liberation discourse”, which has existed since the 1970s. “There are a lot of people,” she says, “who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong. Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia.”

We’re still a long way from pedophilia reaching the “sensible,” “popular,” and “policy” stages. But we’ve already slid further down the slippery-slope of normalizing this crime than most Christians realize.

  • Neophytos

    And closer and closer we grow to resembling the perversions of the Roman empire… right before it collapsed…

  • http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com Wesley

    This is something i’ve been peripherally following for some time now – seeing excerpts here and there regarding its progress. It is, of course, the natural continuum/destination of this line of thinking that was set up by those pushing the gay agenda all these years. Two things to note from here is that, 1: as awful as this idea (legalizing paedophilia) might seem, this is just the tip of the iceberg; i’m sure that human depravity has yet even to come up with the depths it can sink to. And 2: what will be interesting to see is how gay rights activist (homosexual in sexuality or not) respond to such an idea as legalizing paedophilia. To respond with intolerance and revulsion will be hypocritical but to respond affirmatively will be equally telling as well: that in the end what they really seek is the rejection of ANY of God’s creative order and to follow there own way instead. Sound like Rom. 3?

  • Jonathan Garner

    This is what I’ve been saying. In a progressive society I see no reason to think it’s implausible that our society is headed toward this. My argument is not a slippery slope argument. It’s a good inductive argument.

  • http://www.finallyhuman.com Ian

    But what has the demonisation of pedophillia availed us? It has buried this abuse deep behind closed doors, and shamefully within our churches.

    This doesn’t have to be a slippery slope to “acceptance”. it can signify a readiness to actually listen to people who want to have sex with children. That’s the voice which is often muted in this discussion.

    • Joe Carter

      I think the best way to help those struggling with pedophilic urges is to help them with their sinful nature. Modern Westerners have bought in what I would call the “specialness and specificity of sin.” Since we tend to psychologize all sinful urges, we assume that the cause of the urges must be “diagnosed” before it can be addressed. But I think that’s more Freudian than Biblical.

      While we should confess our specific sins to God, I’m not sure it’s necessary to be so specific in order to get help. Whether a man is addicted to porn, attracted to other men, interested in committing adultery, or wanting to have sex with children, the root problem is lust. Is it really necessary to be more specific than that? Sometimes, maybe. But I think in general we could do with a lot less “my sin is specific and special” and more of a general recognition that our brokenness can be healed by our Redeemer.

      (One obvious exception to this general rule would be if someone with pedophilic urges had access to children. In such cases, a pastor or elder should be made aware in order to help prevent a temptation from turning into a horrific crime.

      • http://www.finallyhuman.com Ian

        “The root problem is lust”

        Is it? The root problem is that all people are born dead and thus can only sow and reap in destruction. We might want to be broader with our definition of lust. The classical use of the term might work better, when lust was seen as the expression of unchained desire, rather than the urge to have an orgasm.

        I mean, to tell someone who experiences a same-sex desire that theirs is no different to the person who wants to have a relationship with a young woman in the church, since both must not have sex outside of marriage, is totally false. For one thing, one of these men gets to know that he is natural, doing the right thing and is shown a very clear path for the healthy and holy expression of that desire.

        To label the homosexual’s desire as mere ‘lust’ seems to assume that such an individual is asexual 80% of the time, with occasional outbursts of desire.

        All this to say that a pastoral care system which seeks to stop men acting on lustful desires will be inadequate. Rather, as God’s people grow into one body, I think there will be a growing awareness of the complexity of these desires toward sin. That doesn’t medicalise or clinicise what is in essence a spiritual malady.

        A general recognition of sin can give way to a general pronouncement of forgiveness. This is a cheap grace, which as Bonhoeffer says, justifies the sin without justifying the sinner.

    • Joe

      Ian, it hasn’t availed us because the demonisation of it is not strong enough. Any person caught exploiting a child in this manner should be publicly executed to serve as a warning to others.

  • Derek

    Ahh this would be that slipper slope Christians have warned about that gay activists have said would “never happen because that’s just wrong”.

    I hate being right sometimes.

  • Melody

    I’m not listening to people that want to have sex with children. I’m not listening to people that say we need to listen to them. Scripture speaks of things that are so evil we shouldn’t discuss them.

    I have said this was coming so many times to “Christians” that say the rest of us are being hateful by saying that homosexuality is a sin. How anyone would even begin to justify the rape of innocence…..(shaking head)

    I suppose I’ll get censored again for speaking so harshly.

    • DP

      @Melody… What Scripture speaks of things that are so evil we shouldn’t discuss them? If you are referring to Philippians 4:8 or a passage similar, it does not apply.

      If a Christian declares that a certain sin is so horrible that he or she will not associate with that sinner or associate with a Christian that would minister to that sinner… then they are in effect saying that they have discovered a sin that God can’t forgive.

      Or, to say it another way, you are willing to break God’s commands because of this sin.

      If God’s grace was big enough for Him to move towards you when you were still a sinner… then it is big enough for Him to move towards a person with these untoward desires…. Which means that YOU should be willing to move towards that person in love.

      • Barbara

        I think she’s referring to Ephesians 5:12, particularly in context of the larger passage, which is specifically addressing sexual sin in the congregation. I agree with the commenter above, Mr. Joe Carter, regarding the need to be wise in dealing with the specificity of the sin. It’s important to maintain biblical definitions here. I think it would be helpful for Ian to explain what he means by “listen to” someone who is enslaved to the sin of lust for children. To “listen” in the world’s sense, to give a platform as if there were something redeeming the individual could bring to the table about the subject apart from repentance and faith, would be unwise at the very least. To come alongside a repentant sinner is something else altogether.

        • http://www.finallyhuman.com Ian

          When I sat ‘listen’, I do not attach the meaning ‘agree’ synonymously with it. I suppose in many cases when we say “listen” what we might really mean is “agree with me”.

          I mean ‘listen’ as synonymous with ‘compassion’ and ‘patience’.

          If we assume that the sexual abuse is massively underreported, then it follows that the problem is vast and hidden evil present in all human experience. To open oneself to this reality is frightening. Yet it might be the tragic truth we must face.

          It will not do to carry on the witch-hunt justice, the public flogging and gruesome smearing of the person’s life all over the papers. This will only serve to perpetuate the myth that this behaviour is rare and that the people who do it are demons. Thus the true extent of the abuse will never be illuminated.

          So to listen to the victims and the perpetrators, it might not only be found that the two are often merely different points in one lifetime (children who experience abuse are very likely to go on to perpetrate some kind of abuse), but that there is a way that these individuals, wherever their perverse desire come from, may find a way to live a sane useful life here on earth.

          This is more exciting to me, as it might begin to end the cycles of abuse and thus testify to the reality that there is a God and that he can be experienced here on the earth.

          • Barbara

            “… but that there is a way that these individuals, wherever their perverse desire come from, may find a way to live a sane useful life here on earth.”

            The only way that can happen is through repentance and faith in the Gospel that saves and makes a new creature. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

            • http://www.finallyhuman.com Ian

              So what if there is a Gospel-believing man who has a strong inclination to molest children? Would you say he hadn’t believed aright?

            • Akash Charles

              well if He was Gospel believing he would ask for help-and it is harder to sin for a gospel believing person!!

              This does not mean we legalize it!!!!!

  • Anar

    It seems to me there are two levels here. True Progressivism has no standard but human will. Some want power for power’s sake to feel what it is like to create the world as they please. Then there is another level of regular people with good motives twisted for bad ends; fighting discrimination and inequality may seem good on the surface, but result in longterm or indirect evil.

    I think there are two responses. One would be to take back the good works and outdo the Progressives in showing love (gradually, artfully and winsomely to a degree that the media and populous recognizes it). The other would be to accept the authority that God places over us and the trials it brings. Actually these could both occur together.

  • Akash charles

    so soon we shall be Bigots for opposing this demonic act

    soon liberal churches will call us unloving ungracious and not like Jesus for not affirming such individuals

    what are we coming too!?

    • Akash charles

      soon such individuals will be ordained-as a act of justice and equality for all

  • Terri

    This has to be the sickest thing I’ve ever heard of. They want to make pedophilia normal? And to make the absurd claim that it does not harm the child? Sick, sick, sick.. I think we should round up all the pedophiles and put them all on a island some where, with murderers and let the murderers have at it with the pedophilia’s..do what ever they want to do to them. If some one did that do my child, I swear I would beat the stuffings out of them..

  • susan hager

    There is No such thing as a child entering into a heomosexual relationship voluntarily. Children by there very nature must be
    coherced into such a relationship as they have not yet developed any sexual orientation, therefore any approach towards a child is
    for the the satisfaction of the adult entirely and thus a violation of the rights and innocence of that child. Any deviation from that core fact of nature is a degrading and violent abuse of all children and of society and mankind at large. My own son was abused at aged 10 and like many others has suffered trauma and psychological damage which lasted for many years….and they want to LEGALISE this stuff?

    • Akash Charles

      what is worse is soon ‘CHRISTIAN” churches and people will call those who oppose such behaviors bigots and haters and those who do not understand Jesus!!!

  • http://www.humblewonderful.blogspot.com Tony Camilleri

    Seriously is this site moderated by Christians at all?
    First point: Merely determining that a pattern of behaviour is unlikely to change is not permitting it. People who are psychopaths are deemed to have a fixed inability to empathise. That doesn’t mean that we let them hack people up.
    The conclusion of determining that pedophilia is a fixed pattern of behaviour is NOT to permit child abuse. It may well be to create lifelong restrictions on offenders, including imprisonment. Its a conclusion that argues against short sentences which we know are failing to prevent recidivism in some populations.
    Personally I think(and I work with victims) that abuse is tragically more common than any fixed pedophillic orientation. There are lots of opportunistic abusers in society (usually men in positions of authority including fathers). So I am critical of the medical model that is being proposed here. I see it as only a small part of the solution. I’d rather see changes to the authority we give to men in churches and families because thats the power that gets abused.
    However, second point and this is something that is frankly obvious and immoral not to point out… Homosexuality is not legal because it is a fixed pattern of behaviour but because it has no victim. The equation of an adult in a homosexual relationship with a child victim of abuse is just plain stupid and you embaress Christ by ignoring that distrinction. That’s what this article tries to do by suggesting that outlawing homosexuality is similar to outlawing pedophilia.
    The following question deserves to be answered plainly; Are people actually suggesting we lock people up for having gay sex? And do we lock them up next to unmarried straight sexually active couples?

    • Akash Charles

      many countries lock up people for Gay sex

      also western countries used too(some of them) until we decided to throw God out!! in the name of Love
      anyways In our culture might see it as harsh-but people 100 years ago would have been like-yup that is sexual immorality there deserves to be consequences!

      I do not understand the whole-we should allow gay sex because christian unmarried singles also are sexually immoral?!!?!!!

      How about we discourage both of them eh!-and divorce too-and sin in general!

    • Joe

      Tony, you are part of the problem. You are clearly part of the liberal poison in our churches that rejects God. The victims in homosexual ‘relationships’ are both parties involved. It is sin, is it not? And sin brings judgment on a person. Thus, if you sin, you bring condemnation on yourself. If you coerce another to sin, you bring condemnation on them too. Is there a victim in suicide? Of course there is – even though the person is wilfully determining to do it to themselves. We should make sodomy illegal once again, and have strong punishments against it to serve as a warning against it. Public floggings would do.

      • http://www.humblewonderful.com Tony

        Public floggings you say?

        I think you mean stonings right. I believe you can enjoy in a country like Iraq the death penalty for homosexuality.

        So long as we stone adulterers too.

        Because thats what Jesus would do, right?

        At any point a christian leader on this website could show some courage and speak against this sinister and unchristian post and comments. I hope they will.

  • Joe

    This all started with feminism, and the breaking down of traditional gender roles. Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (not walk all over them as feminists assert men used to), and women are to submit to their husbands. How many Christian women do that (and how many Christian men do the former)? And so, I assert that the church is at fault in all of this too. The breaking down of gender roles made way for the legalisation of sodomy, and for gay marriage – where the idea of marriage now is that it is just a contractual commitment between any two people who love each other. And now we’ve more-or-less accepted sodomy, they are opening the doors for the next things: Polygamy and paedophilia. At the moment they are strongly opposed by the majority of people, but then, so was sodomy a couple of decades ago… We need a King Josiah (2 Kings 22) to replace the evil men and women that occupy the corridors of power, and to violently tear down anything and everything that opposes the righteousness of Christ.

  • http://holistichomemaking.org April Emery

    This is beyond disturbing. As I read this I cannot conceive this ever becoming popular or acceptable but then I think of the moral decline in our country just since I was born a little over 30 year ago and I cringe because it could seriously happen. The day it does I will know we are in the last days. Absolutely disgusting.

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