Pedophilia; Tell me why it`s wrong if no contact with minors exists.

I think we all have a “sense” that it is wrong, but why do we feel that way?

Ive heard that a person cant really be cured of their pedophilia.
Pedophiles themselves have said that no amount of counseling can change their sexual urges.
If a person is born with these urges and has to live with them their whole lives, why are they looked upon as evil and bad people?
Lets assume that no crimes have been committed by the pedophile, just urges and thoughts. How is this different than me being sexually attracted to large breasted females, or a women being sexually attracted to guys with long hair, older people of either gender being attracted to someone 30 years younger then them, my brother being attracted to older men, or someone liking S and M? What is different about pedophiles that makes them outcasts? What if a pedophile said to you, "Youre lucky youre attracted to someone that wont get you prison time, Im stuck being attracted to children and I have to live my life not being able to act on these urges."
How would you react?
How do you respond to this?

How does this parrallel what the gay community has gone through? Is there a parrallel?
(A few decades ago a gay person may have said the following to a straight person, “Youre lucky youre attracted to the opposite sex, I`m stuck being attracted to the same sex and I have to live my life not being able to act on these urges”)

Pedophilia; The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.

I am NOT endorsing pedophilia. I got into a conversation with Otto and Esprix in another thread and the idea for this thread sort of morphed into my tiny brain.

Well, if a person has those attractions and never acts on them or mentions them, then nobody else will ever know. In that case calling it right or wrong doesn’t really apply. If the person admits to those feelings, but never acts on them, and tries to get treatment to no longer have those feelings, I wouldn’t call such a person evil, even if they never find a “cure.” If the person chooses to act out child oriented fantasies with an adult, that may be a fetish, but it isn’t really wrong, although I might be disturbed by it. So, I guess I’m saying it’s primarily wrong if somebody acts on those feelings with a minor.

With regard to gays, there isn’t a parallel because gays aren’t engaging in sex with minors, but with other consenting adults. Also, even though homosexuality has perhaps been suppressed in the past, at least in public, that never really meant that people had to refrain from private relationships. If you mean that in the past people have felt that their homosexual feelings were somehow wrong, unforunately many still do, but it’s still not the same because if they ever decide to accept themselves they can go ahead and engage in relationships without fear of reprisal. Well, not much anyway, and when it happens it’s wrong.

I forgot:

The difference between a pedophile and an older person attracted to somebody 30 years younger, but an adult, is that the latter is attracted to somebody who has fully developed sexual characteristics, is also able to make an informed decision (presumably) and is self-responsible.

There’s nothing wrong in being sexually attracted to children without ever acting on such urges. Actually it’s certainly a pretty sad situation or even a curse since not only you won’t ever have any sexual life but you can’t even talk about your issue or expect to find some sympathy or support.

These guys are considered “evil” just because the “eek” factor level and disgust is extremely high (especially since people immediatly think about their own children). As usual, something that people deeply dislike on an individual level is deemed evil, even when it doesn’t harm anyone. Plus, people would always fear that the guy will eventually act on his fantaisies.

Personnally, I suspect that counselling or therapy is as efficient at changing the sexual attractions of a pedophile than it is at turning a homosexual into a heterosexual (sorry, no cite, it’s only a personnal opinion…I read contradicting statement written by professionals on this issue). At best, I suppose the therapist could help the guy living with his desires, his secret, dealing with his possible (likely?) guilt, and to avoid ever acting on his desires.

I disagree. There is something wrong with being sexually attracted to children. It is hard to discern, but, in my mind, there is a difference between unbidden thoughts and turning those thoughts into fantasies or allowing them to become a “sexual attraction.” The same is true for a lot of thoughts of crimes. The mere thought of “Gosh, I’d like to kill my boss for just dumping all this work on me.” is a homicidal thought. But if that thought is given a haven in the brain, and fantasized about, then it goes beyond a mere thought, and into something I’m comfortable calling “wrong.”

You know, I’ve never understood this argument, and I’m hoping you can flush this out for me. Isn’t this idea of anything being immoral or wrong because of an “ick” factor nothing more than an attack on ANY moral decision. Couldn’t you just as easily say: "Murder is wrong because of the “ick” factor. " Or rape is wrong because of the “ick” factor. Isn’t that an argument against making any kind of moral decision and not one specific to pedophilia? If that is the case, why would it hold any water. Why not just say you can’t determine ANYTHING is wrong because it all just boils down to an “ick” factor. Please clear this up for me if you would.

I think, ultimately, the actual attraction towards children isn’t something I can judge. I leave the judgement up to somebody eminently more suitable (God and that person). I believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that many children are harmed by such relationships, and thus can not accept the acting upon the desire. I also don’t believe that a child, whether giving consent or not, can really fully grasp what a sexual relationship is at such a young age. Heck, people in their twenties sometimes don’t quite get it. Until a person can enter into a non-harmful relationship with full understanding of any consequences, I can’t allow it as right.

But as for your original question: no, I don’t think the attraction is necessarily evil or under their control. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t… but I gotta wonder why anyone with control over their own pedophilia would keep it. Even more than homosexuality ever was, attraction to children is 100X worse in our society. Its a shame that some people are burdened so greatly by such impulses, and without anyone they feel they can talk to.

I agree with Hamlet. Sometimes, actions are wrong even if nobody is actually harmed by them.

I think even most liberals on the SDMB would agree that it’s wrong to hate Jews and homosexuals, yet the act of hating alone harms nobody. Ditto for peeking through a lady’s bathroom window (and if enough people conspire competently, she would never learn of this indiscretion). Sometimes actions can be inherently wrong, regardless of their consequences or lack thereof.


I should say up front that, as a relativist, I don’t understand things as inherently “good” or “evil.” Hence, there is a sense in which I would say that you can’t determine that anything is wrong (because such judgements are ultimately arbitrary – another way of phrasing the “ick” factor).

With that out of the way, the reason that being attracted to children is not “wrong” while rape and murder are is that ethics, traditionally, makes demands only on acts of will, not on uncrontrolable predilections. A pedophile does not choose to be attracted to children, just as you and I haven’t chosen to be attracted to adults – hence, morality doesn’t attach to the situation until the person decides to act on that attraction.

It’s so hard ot discern that I don’t see it, I guess. What is a fantasy but a series of unbidden thoughts and desires? Certainly there is a degree to which one can try to shut out regrettable thoughts and desires, but this is, to put it mildly, difficult (try not to fantasize about women sometime – or men, such as the case may be). Besides, another facet of conventional ethics (since recently, anyway) is that there are no “thought crimes.”

I disagree, of course, but that’s irrelevant: we’re not talking about an action, here. Saying that an involuntary sexual attraction can be wrong is like saying that toenails can be wrong. It might be so, but you’ll have to explain how.

Since when was hate an act? I hate mushrooms, but as long as I don’t spout off insults towards them, no mushrooms will be harmed.
As far as I know, no mushrooms are aware that I hate them so.

Peeking through the bathroom window is wrong because it is an act in opposition to the viewed person’s desires. The verb “to peek”, as enacted by you, effects the viewed person, as they did not wish to be viewed.

As far as I am aware, you cannot enact “hate” in such a way that it effects anyone. You can insult, torment, beat, or otherwise harm, but none of those results from simply the thought of hate.

Thoughts do not have effects. Thoughts are not wrong.

Interesting question.

I met a person once in a gay chat room. He seemed like a nice guy. After we had chatted online a few times, he revealed that he was a convicted ephebophile (sp?) who had served time. He was trying to find someone who was of legal age that he could become attracted to because he desperately wanted a loving relationship with someone that would be more acceptable to society. He hated the fact that he had an attraction to minors and wanted to change very badly. I have to be honest and say that I truly felt sorry for the guy, up to a point. He might have even eventually become a friend because I could tell he needed someone to talk to, except for one thing…

I couldn’t help but think of his 13 year old victim who had no say in the matter and was robbed of their innocence. Had this guy never acted upon his urges, I would have had both sympathy and maybe even respect for him. But he chose to act on those urges and that crossed the line in my book. I couldn’t morally justify offering friendship to someone who had hurt a kid. As a result, I ended our correspondance abruptly and feel I made the right decision. It was an eye opening experience though, to say the least.

Since when was it not an act? No physical motion is involved, but it is still an action.

Which does nothing to prove your point. It doesn’t demonstrate that hating is a non-act. All that talk about “no mushrooms will be harmed” is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

And yet nobody is harmed. You have talked about why the action is wrong, but the point remains – nobody is harmed by the action. This demonstrates that an action can be wrong, even when it does not harm anyone.


Thinking is an action, sure. Having thoughts of hate is an action. Hate is not an action.

What is harm?

Someone in the bathroom desire’s not to be viewed. Viewing them against their desire is harm.

I submit that no mushroom will ever be harmed by my hatred.

I also have to disagree that a though is an action. The thought precedes the action, which may or may not ever be acted upon.

Certainly it is wrong to hit someone, but it isn’t equally wrong to think about hitting someone. I saw a lady hit her kid in a store the other day and yell all kinds of abusive shit at him. And I felt like hitting her. Of course I didn’t do it but I sure entertained the thought for a minute. And I’ve never hit anyone in my life. But I don’t think my thoughts put me in the same category as someone who would have actually taken a swing at her.

A thought is an action. It is an act of volition, an act of the will. Someone who thinks – or loves, or hates – does so through an act of personal will. This does not have to entail physical motion of any sort.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that thinking and hating are not “actions.” The point remains that hating a Jew or a homosexual is still wrong, even though nobody is harmed by it. ERGO, something can be wrong even if no harm ensues.

Quibble all you want about whether hating can be described as an “action” or not. That’s ultimately irrelevant to the question of whether something is morally wrong or not.

How so? Merely viewing them has absolutely no impact on their lives; ergo, no actual harm is involved. If the proper steps are taken to avoid discovery, then the woman’s life remains exactly the same regardless of whether she was spied on or not. This cannot be construed as harm in any rational sense.

Which, for reasons that I’ve already explained, is irrelevant. The whole point of this discussion is that harm is not a necessary condition for declaring an act to be morally wrong.

That is a specious argument. The act of hating is the act of having hateful thoughts. You are making a distinction that does not exist.

I suspect that you are failing to distinguish between “hate” (the noun) and “hate” (the verb). The noun form of “hate” is not an action, but the verb form is.

Yes, but sexual attraction to children is beyond a person’s control. Racial bigotry and homophobia is not, it is a choice made by someone.



Don’t think about purple elephants wearing pink bikinis.

Betcha thought about purple elephants wearing pink bikinis, didn’t you? Was it an act of will on your part?

i do not plan ahead what I’m going to think about, and neither does anyone else.

Start over.

Define wrongness, please. Do not use examples of wrongness, like “wishing to have sex with children is wrong” because that’s a tad circular.

Define what you mean by “morally wrong” if the act/thought never has an impact on anyone, including the person having the thought? What does the “wrongness” of it entail, exactly?

Please be specific. You are making very bold assertions here, I think you need to be clear exactly what you are talking about.