One tenet of sexual morality that has come back

Don’t miss Mary Eberstadt’s article in First Things: How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool. She shows that in the 1970′s through the 1990′s sex with children was being presented by many in the cultural elite as not so bad–something to joke about–or even as something to advocate. Now, there is a consensus across ideological lines that adults having sex with children is a great evil. This is evident in the case of Roman Polanski, in which liberals joined conservatives in condemning his violation of a 13-year-old. (In Europe, in Hollywood, and in particular circles, there are still those who defend Polanski and even some who still advocate and practice pedophilia, but they are violators of what is still broadly accepted as a cultural and moral norm.) Why did the trend to pedophilia stop, while other tenets of the sexual revolution moved forward? Eberstadt credits the universal revulsion against the child-abusing priests, who did most of their assaults during the more easy-going 1970′s-1990′s, but hearing the testimony of the scarred adults they victimized as children made the public sensitive to just how evil this was and is.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • kerner

    The thing about this, is that support for sex with children comes from the most unexpected places. The theory seems to be that if it is done by people like US (whomever “us” might be) sex with children can be acceptable.

    There have been later revisions attempting to sanitize this, but see here:

    http://www.wendymcelroy.com/rockwell/mcelroy000403.html

  • kerner

    The thing about this, is that support for sex with children comes from the most unexpected places. The theory seems to be that if it is done by people like US (whomever “us” might be) sex with children can be acceptable.

    There have been later revisions attempting to sanitize this, but see here:

    http://www.wendymcelroy.com/rockwell/mcelroy000403.html

  • Joe

    I think this is a good thing, but the laws against adults having sex with minors need to find their proper definitions. I have seen too many stories of a 18 year, still in high school, boys being prosecuted for having sex with their 16 year old girlfriends and ending up listed on sexual preditor databases.

    I am not advocating premarital, teenaged sex but our zeal to stamp out the horror of adults abusing children has has some unitended consequences that need to be addressed.

  • Joe

    I think this is a good thing, but the laws against adults having sex with minors need to find their proper definitions. I have seen too many stories of a 18 year, still in high school, boys being prosecuted for having sex with their 16 year old girlfriends and ending up listed on sexual preditor databases.

    I am not advocating premarital, teenaged sex but our zeal to stamp out the horror of adults abusing children has has some unitended consequences that need to be addressed.

  • fws

    Paedophelia and child molestation is such a dark violation of humanity that we DO try to push this into the realm of “people who do this are not of us”.

    Sometimes this is done by making homosexuality=paedophilia=child molestation.

    The fact is that 90% of all child molestations that are reported are perpetrated by a trusted family member. Google this to know this is a fairly solid statistic.

    The idea of a sexual predator lurking by playgrounds and on the internet is only 5% of the problem. Imagine that.

    So what do we do? We clutter the database with teens who have sex with other teens and men who expose themselves in public or people like Senator Craig or David Vitter who have sex with another consenting adult.

    All of these are social problems and I am not saying they are not. All of what I have presented however points to the idea that the 95% of the more urgent issue here happens quietly in families that look, very disturbingly so, EXACTLY like us.

    Our common sinful urge to avoid this unpleasant fact has resulted in the current mess of legal “fixes” we have today. None of those fixes are aimed at the 95% of the problem. and even the 5% they are aimed at are hardly addressed by the current laws.

  • fws

    Paedophelia and child molestation is such a dark violation of humanity that we DO try to push this into the realm of “people who do this are not of us”.

    Sometimes this is done by making homosexuality=paedophilia=child molestation.

    The fact is that 90% of all child molestations that are reported are perpetrated by a trusted family member. Google this to know this is a fairly solid statistic.

    The idea of a sexual predator lurking by playgrounds and on the internet is only 5% of the problem. Imagine that.

    So what do we do? We clutter the database with teens who have sex with other teens and men who expose themselves in public or people like Senator Craig or David Vitter who have sex with another consenting adult.

    All of these are social problems and I am not saying they are not. All of what I have presented however points to the idea that the 95% of the more urgent issue here happens quietly in families that look, very disturbingly so, EXACTLY like us.

    Our common sinful urge to avoid this unpleasant fact has resulted in the current mess of legal “fixes” we have today. None of those fixes are aimed at the 95% of the problem. and even the 5% they are aimed at are hardly addressed by the current laws.


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