I grew up in a good Christian home. Both my parents really knew the Lord. Sure, we had struggles like everyone else, but I was loved and cared for. I enjoyed my selection of kid stuff, such as karate, playing video games with friends all night, and reading fantasy novels on the bus. I remember standing in line for hours to watch the first showing of Star War – all three times 🙂 I think being “normal” made it that much harder to admit to myself that I was a pedophile.
It’s really hard on young people when first discovering they’re minor attracted. The realization usually happens in isolation. Nobody tells their parents or the people they trust, “I think I’m starting to have feelings for boys.” By the time I told others, I had already gone through the stages of shock, horror, and grim acceptance. I wish there was more awareness and support available for young people going through it.
The thing about pedophilia/hebephilia (minor attraction) is that it blares in your face. If you have this condition, there’s no ignoring it. You simply have feelings of sexual/romantic attraction toward minors that you know “should” be toward same age peers. There’s no getting around it either. You’re born with it, develop it, or both. Whatever the cause, it feels like it’s hardwired into your brain. You feel the attraction regardless of choice. Fortunately for me, I have a secondary attraction to adult women. I think I was able to maintain it because I normalized the minor attraction fairly quickly. I’ve talked to older pedophiles who believe their secondary attraction is not as strong as earlier in life, due to fixating on minor attraction (exacerbated by self-hate and anxiety). It might have been different had they received support and learned coping skills at a younger age. I had these, and benefited from it.
There are some pedophiles who believe they’re exclusively attracted to minors. This may be the case, since there is so much variation in how humans experience sexuality. Still, many teenagers and young adults, who are minor attracted, are uncertain about their sexuality. I tell them that sexual contact in general can be enjoyable, even with an adult, and that they still have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a committed, adult relationship (provided they find a partner that loves them as a whole person).
Here is a key point. Just because someone is a pedophile doesn’t mean they have or will harm a child. It just means they have a minor attraction. Statistically, the majority of pedophiles do not offend. It amounts to making intentional decisions not based on feelings. Everybody does that… a married couple chooses to remain faithful, a teenager chooses not to look at porn, or a woman says no to a man who wants sex on the third date. Sexual attraction just “is”; we as humans decide how we’ll handle it. As horrible as it sounds, it’s possible for a dad with typical attraction to recognize that his teenage daughter is becoming a woman, but he chooses not to entertain any sexual thoughts toward her. In the same way, a person who is minor attracted has the power to decide how they’ll think and act toward children. It’s just that pedophiles are more likely to offend when there are the added risk factors of self-hatred, depression, and isolation.
I’ve been blessed with a wife and children. My wife knows about my attraction, and I am completely open and accountable with her. My family and close friends know as well. I have set a boundary of not forming personal relationships with children outside my family. Also, I’ve chosen not to work with children in my career. I like to think I am many steps away from harming a child, but between God and me, I believe these are good boundaries. Living with pedophilia requires self-understanding, coping skills, intentional choices, and support. This is a formula for success for anyone facing challenges.
The question will come up of whether I’m safe with my kids. I answer, Yes. I think it’s different with your own children. A father with normal attraction doesn’t feel the same way about his older daughter as he does other women. It must be something built into us humans. However, there are parents who do sexually abuse their children. I think this likely involves a breakdown of person decisions, and is not simply indicative of pedophilia. Nevertheless, as for me, I keep a sober recognition that I’m capable of evil – which I don’t believe is limited to pedophiles.
I know God is real, and I believe Jesus was God-made-human, who came to make a way for us to be saved from evil. I believe that God will have a one-on-one relationship with anyone who invites him. Also, when Jesus died and rose to life, he made it possible for us to have new life inside, “born again”. This reality has completely affected my experience of being a pedophile. Were it not for God, I would have a different perspective. I would still think children are harmed by sexual contact, but I would probably try to embrace pedophilia and find positive outlets. I do believe God is real, however, and that there is more available to us.
I believe God can give someone a victorious life, even if they are minor attracted. That certainly means not harming children, but it also means having hope, purpose, and love in life. I don’t think God is stumped by pedophilia, and I don’t think a Christian should expect anything less from God’s promises just because they are a pedophile. Jesus said that he came to set the prisoners free, and to give us life abundantly. He’s conquered the devil, the world, and sin. He can do that in each of our lives.
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