As Predicted: the Normalizing of Incest and Pedophilia

Although I hadn’t as yet read any headlines about it, I understood Father Dwight Longenecker to be pulling a taut string of satire on this “Hollywood director coming out for man/goat love.

And then I saw the actual article and realized that Longenecker hadn’t, perhaps, stepped far enough away from reality to make it truly satirical!

So, in the course of a week, we see advocacy for incest and as well as a sort of apologia for pedophilia suggesting that some people are “born with” the urge to destroy children’s lives, and so an amount of sympathy ought to be rendered their way.

To all of which, Mark Shea wonders, with wide-eyed sarcasm, Jeepers, who could possibly have foreseen this? and then pretty well sums up my feelings:

If by “sympathy” one means the sort of sympathy one has for a raging drunk in his wretchedness and ruin as a result of his capitulation to his fallen human nature, that’s one thing. All sinners deserve sympathy, even the most wretched. God sympathizes with us in our abysmal sinful wretchedness and sent his Son to die for the worst of us–even Hitler. But if by “sympathy” you mean “Whatever inclination you happen to feel deserves to be indulged because you feel it” then you are a fool and an enabler of monstrous evil.

You’ll want to read Mark’s whole piece which calls for a return of the Catholic understanding of the fall and redemption.

Incest and adult/child “love.” Those of us who have lived with the life-long after-effects of these destructive deviancies find ourselves feeling concerned and disgusted but also inclined toward jeering disdain. That’s all you are? The big boogey-monster of countless nightmares is finally some sniveling creep too ill-informed and self-oriented to feel embarrassed by coming out and making exactly the arguments the Catholic church predicted they’d be making, once the gay marriage argument became politico/media-normalized?

I mean, how cool and edgy are you when all you are doing is precisely the thing that someone you hate predicted you’d be doing? Doh! Mortifying, man, mortifying!

This recaptures the moment when an adolescent realizes that his annoying parent’s warning about following through on a bad idea was both prophetic and correct. A smart adolescent considers the insight a gift and begins to think his parent might know a thing or two — and he begins to grow up; he attempts to conform some of his life to the reality that it’s not always full of “yes”. A dull or prideful adolescent resents the parent’s wisdom and doubles down on the deed.

I mean, I can feel a great deal of sympathy for that sort of stiff-necked, stubborn entrapment in one’s sins; I’ve managed to entrap myself through pride many times. But there is a way beyond them. Unfortunately, it is a narrow way, and that makes it — as Chesterton said — “difficult and left untried.”

Meanwhile, Father Dwight follows up satire with a very straightforward look at Dawn Eden’s excellent book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints.

Eve Tushnet makes a response to the idea of the end of sexual identity.

Max Lindenman writes on a purer and non-satirical animal love

Leah Libresco on the distinctions between religion and science

Frank Weathers: Searching for Truth is that arrogant or audacious?

“That conscience thing…

“Religion is wasted on the young”

(Image courtesy of

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mr. Patton

    Ah, the fallacy of division has reared it’s ugly head again. How many times can you make this argument from this logical fallacy and still think that you are correct? I could make the equally absurd argument that once the heterosexual marriage argument became politico/media-normalized that also attributed to the homosexual marriage being normalized and so forth.

  • Brian A. Cook

    For all we know whoever started spreading this story might be magnifying a few fringe elements.

  • Thinkling

    “how cool and edgy are you when all you are doing is precisely the thing that someone you hate predicted you’d be doing?”

    Well said.

    I disagree with George Weigel here: TotB will not be the theological time bomb of the 21st century. Humanae Vitae will be instead. Pope Paul’s propheticness has a longer fuse than anticipated.

  • Pingback: Hollywood director comes out in favor of incest - Christian Forums

  • MichaelP71 Remember this story from a couple of years ago? He is a professor from Columbia who is having “consensual” sex with his…wait for it…..daughter. He is a professor (read intellectual), so what he does and says holds weight and does damage.

  • Thomas

    ‘So, in the course of a week, we see advocacy for incest and as well as a sort of apologia for pedophilia suggesting that some people are “born with” the urge to destroy children’s lives, and so an amount of sympathy ought to be rendered their way.’

    Because rendering an amount of sympathy their way may not be the most Christian of attitudes?

    To sympathize is not to excuse.

    For a doctrinally sound treatment of this subject see the essay:

    ‘A Theological Overview on Recent Research on Sex and Gender’
    -The Reverend Benedict M. Ashley, O.P., Ph.D.
    Sex and Gender: A Theological and Scientific Inquiry
    -The Pope John Center


    [I very clearly conceded sympathy for our common and fallen sinful states. -admin]

  • GP

    It ain’t about love or anything about LOVE!!! It’s all about S-E-X!!! Society today is overly consumed and drunk on SEX and no one is “out of bounds”!!! LOVE?!? Definitely not the kind that Jesus Christ not only spoke about but gave up his life totally and completely for it!!!

  • Thomas

    Your ‘concession’ hardly lightens the tone of your post.

    ‘If we can get pedophiles to begin acknowledging their dangerous desires, experts like Dawn Horwitz-Person, a psychotherapist in Chico, California, who specializes in treating sex offenders, believes we can help pedophiles “learn how to manage their desires the way alcoholics do.” Horwitz-Person focuses on a very 12-step-like manner of therapy and acceptance focusing not on changing pedophiles’ basic desires, but “changing how they think about things.” “I try to get them to develop empathy and to get them to recognize the risk factors in their life,” she says. “I try to get them to understand that when they feed their brains a lot of deviant sexual fantasies, it’s going to lead to them acting on those fantasies.” There is no panacea, says Horwitz-Person, there is only process.’


    ‘You are not guilty because of your sexual desire, but you are responsible for your sexual
    behavior.’ (which is in fact bolded in the margin)

    You make no mention of these passages or others similar in your ‘scathing’ critique of the article or, more vaguely, what it ‘says about our society’. There is some room for hope yet if Christians will educate themselves so as to make their arguments in Charity and Truth because there is apparently some common ground.

    I highly suggest you read the previously mentioned Rev. Ashley article.


  • Adam


    I suspect that we’re not slipping down the slope of public acceptance for incest…yet. I flipped through the comments on this story at Huffington Post, and most people there were pretty much “This guy’s a crackpot.” Most (again, I repeat, “most”) people seem to publicly oppose incest on two real-world grounds: lack of consent/family coercion (dads and moms abusing kids), and potential genetic damage (heightened risk of genetic defects from inbreeding).

    I wager what you *will* see as acceptance of homosexuality grows is a more insidious acceptance of incest–that is, the slippery slope will be a lot more gradual than this guy is pushing for. The genetic issue will be dealt with on two grounds: 1) sterility is readily accessible (couples can contracept or get sterilized; in the case of homosexuality, its a non-issue). 2) The risk is heightened, but not a given. I’ve read that for non-related couples, there’s always a 3-4% risk of some kind of birth defect; for incestuous couples, it’s only upped to 5-6%.

    On the consent issue…well, that’s the given argument for homosexuality and even regular heterosexual adultery: what’s the problem between consenting adults? I doubt we’ll go down the road of acceptance of parent-child incest any time soon. What you *might* see is a desire to relax prosecution of accidental sibling incest. Go ahead an Google “Husband and wife discover they’re brother and sister.” You’ll find a surprisingly large number of stories about this (thanks, anonymous sperm donor industry!)–couples who meet, fall in love, marry, and even have healthy kids–then discover they’re related. How do you straight-facedly tell a couple in love that they’re not allowed to be together due to an accident of biology?

    The problem as I see it is that we’ve lost our sense of spirituality on these issues. With homosexuality, the given retort is always “Who is this hurting”? Indeed, if you know any loving homosexual couple, they probably seem to be healthily in love and not harming anyone in any earthly sense of the word. Nobody wants to consider that God forbids certain sexual behaviors, let alone WHY he forbids them. (I think this is why the scripture argument fails–there’s clear prohibitions on both homosexuality and incest in the Bible, but the pushback you’ll get is often “The Bible says a lot of things.” We need a better argument than “because the Bible says so.” Come to think of it, another common argument is “There’s a lot of incest in the Bible.”)

    So I wouldn’t panic about this yet–society may be going to hell in a handbasket, but I’m not sure this particular rotten fruit has made it into the handbasket yet. Still, who saw mass abortion and tolerance of homosexuality 100 years ago? Continue to pray, as well as educate your family and your readers on God’s intentions for human sexuality.

  • Jane Hartman

    If we allow homosexuals marriage, how can we hold the line against polygamy, polyamory, zoophilia, people with objects fetish, incest, etc., when these folks will attempt to claim they were “born with” that particular desire? If enough people become activists regarding these things, there would be no legal way to stop them since the legal precedent is being set through homosexual marriage.

  • Brian A. Cook

    I thought I should follow up my earlier comment. I did not mean to belittle this allegation. It is indeed extremely serious. However, Thomas has a point worth looking into.

  • Todd Flowerday

    Mr Cassavetes’ bedfellows are not homosexuals in unions, but Jerry Springer, Howard Stern, and the National Enquirer. Or the kid in first grade that did something gross and weird to get attention. A filmmaker cooks up a way to get attention for his film. This is simple capitalism. No more. No less.

    Allow my insightful prediction: sometime in the next few years, any number of audacious publicity freaks will poke at some things morally sacred on the Right, get a lot of attention from people who dislike them, and fatten up their bank accounts. Mischief managed.

  • ferdigrofe

    One needs only to read Freud’s Totem and Taboo to recognize the evil of incest. The first part of the book is entitled “The Savages Fear of Exogamy.” Only the Egyptian and the Inca royal families practiced it and they were gods. Zeus and his wife Hera were brother and sister. Again they were gods.

    It is my understanding that the ancient Greek culture practiced pedophilia. A boy went to the gym, took an older man as a lover, and then the boy upon becoming a man married, at least this is my understanding of the practice. Apparently people such as Socrates, Plato, etc, the Great Ones, went through the experience and his son repeated the cycle. It seemed to cause them no harm. I am not interested in resurrecting the practice. How does the Greek experience fit into the picture. We have an ballot measure on homosexual marriage. I feeling like asking the proponents what kind of birth control married gay people will use or ask if this ballot measure will allow me to marry my beloved sheep!