The ongoing crisis involving pedophiliac priests in the Roman Catholic Church first brought to my attention the tendency of many people to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. Then an incident hit a little closer to home: a teacher from my high school was charged with molesting a twelve-year-old boy. My mother was discussing the scandal with a friend who remarked, Well, my kids said there were a lot of rumors that he was gay. My mother countered, He isnt gay. He is a pedophile.
A few weeks later I saw Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovars latest film, Bad Education. In the film, a priest sexually abuses a prepubescent boy. Later, the priest has a number of sexual encounters with a grown young man. It troubled me that the film seemed to confuse homosexuality and pedophilia. For viewers ambivalent about the morality of homosexuality, the film could be confusing. They might wonder if homosexuals have a propensity to prey on boys.
The truth is that there is absolutely no correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. The majority of pedophiles actually identify themselves as heterosexuals. Even male pedophiles who abuse young boys maintain adult heterosexual relationships. Many pedophiles never even develop a sexual orientation toward other adults. They are sexually excited by youth, not by gender. Although there are certainly some homosexual pedophiles, there is no scientific evidence that a homosexual individual is more likely to be a pedophile than a heterosexual individual. Reports of child molestation perpetrated by gays or lesbians are very rare.
Technically speaking, there is a major distinction between pedophilia and homosexuality: pedophilia is a psychological disorder, and homosexuality is not. Psychologists define pedophilia as a psychosexual deviation in which one prefers prepubescent children as sexual partners. It is a disease. The American Psychological Association has not characterized homosexuality as a disease since 1973. A psychological disorder must compromise judgment, stability, reliability or social/vocational capabilities; homosexuality does none of these. Homosexuality does not directly affect an individuals daily functioning or the functioning of those around him or her. Pedophilia on the other hand if acted upon, can destroy or permanently damage the life of a child. Homosexual and heterosexual partnerships can bring mutual joy to both partners.
Just like the majority of heterosexuals, homosexuals seek relationships of equality with other consenting adults. Most of us, whether we are hetero- or homo-sexual, want to fall in love. We want long-term committed relationships. We want to know another adult as fully as possible in mind, body and spirit. Most of all, we want partners who are also adults. Pedophiles do not want these things. They desire sexual gratification from children. Pedophiles who act on their desires manipulate and harm the objects of their lust. Children cannot say yes or no to pedophiles. They are too weak to defend themselves against physical attack or do not know how to get help. There is no possibility for an equal, consensual relationship between a pedophile and a child.
Between two adults, there is the possibility of an equal relationship. And more importantly, both parties are mature enough to offer their consent to sex acts. In short, unlike pedophiles, homosexuals and heterosexuals do not seek victims: they seek lovers.
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