The widespread cultural debate regarding the morality of homoerotic behavior, not to mention gay marriage, has ended. Those who remain opposed have had their opposition effectively quarantined to the realm of religious faith and private opinion.
My own views on the matter were laid out in a six-part blog back in 2011, the first of which can be read here with links to the other five on the sidebar as well as at the bottom of each post.
Early on in the debate, the idea of a “slippery slope” was introduced by many, concerned that the arguments being used in favor of the acceptance of homoerotic behavior and gay marriage could be just as easily used for polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia. After all, once you redefine family into whatever people want it to mean, make “love” or “attraction” the ultimate ethic in terms of appropriate relationship, then you have very little keeping you from applying that to almost any kind of relationship.
This caused an outrage on the other side, who said in no uncertain terms that this was reprehensible to even consider.
Yet we now know that soon after gay marriage began its victory lap through the courts, cases advocating polygamy – using virtually the same arguments that the courts had accepted for gay marriage – became legion.
And yes, now comes the wave to accept pedophilia.
Consider this statement:
“Pedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males. At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children…Normal males are aroused by children.”
This statement did not come from some fringe group easily dismissed by either side. It was “one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organizers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.”
Other presentations included, but were not limited to, “Liberating the pedophile; a discursive analysis,” and “Danger and difference: the stakes of hebephilia.”
(*Hebephilia is the sexual preference for children in very early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.)
Little wonder that one of the attendees, Tom O’Carroll – a multiple child sex offender and long–time campaigner for the legalization of sex with children and former head of the Paedophile Information Exchange – wrote later on his blog, “Wonderful! It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”
As Andrew Gilligan of the Telegraph noted, amid all of the concern over child sex abuse in the Eighties, “unnoticed amid the furor is a much more current threat: attempts, right now, in parts of the academic establishment to push the boundaries on the acceptability of child sex.” As Gilligan notes, “With the Pill, the legalization of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, …[to some] sex by children [is] just another repressive boundary to be swept away.”
Their argument? See if this in any way sounds familiar.
Ken Plummer, emeritus professor of sociology at Essex University, says “The isolation, secrecy, guilt and anguish of many pedophiles are not intrinsic to the phenomen[on] but are derived from the extreme social repression placed on minorities.”
Wait, there’s more language you might find familiar:
“Pedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.”
And here’s the final bit of the argument:
“…’childhood’ itself is not a biological given but an historically produced social object.”
So let’s recap:
*pedophilia is a normal urge for some people so it shouldn’t be condemned
*outlawing sex with children is just a repressive, discriminatory boundary
*it’s okay if it’s within the bounds of a loving relationship
*the children involved are consenting, so anything consensual is acceptable
*childhood itself is a social construct, just like marriage, and therefore is not subject to any transcendent rules or safeguards
So was I.
But I was equally stunned by something else.
I was stunned by the lack of outrage from the very people who expressed outrage that the arguments they used in favor of the acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage were being used to promote pedophilia.
But then again, how could they?
It was, after all, their argument.
But I am prepared to say they were right about one thing.
There wasn’t a moral slippery slope created by the redefinition of acceptable human sexual behavior, marriage and family.
We’re not slipping.
James Emery White
“’Paedophilia is natural and normal for males’: How some university academics make the case for pedophiles at summer conferences,” Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph, July 5, 2014, read online.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.