It’s kind of remarkable how times have changed. Thirty years ago men rarely talked about same-sex attractions or confessed that they actually played around a little with boys when they were boys. What they would talk about was 14-year-old girls: “Look at that one!” “Yeah, she’s hot!”
Today, with our more relaxed attitude toward same-sex experimentation, more and more men casually mention that they “tried it a few times but it just didn’t stick.” At the same time, with the public furor over under-age sex, men no longer talk about it, joke about it, or in any way suggest they have interest in anyone under the age of 60. The big chill has set in.
Let’s get a few things straight.
Human beings are designed to be attracted to each other. If not, our species would die. We’re specifically designed to be sexually attracted to persons of child-bearing age—those from about 12 or 13 to 40 and beyond. So it’s both natural and normal to find teenagers attractive. What we do with those attractions is another matter. David Deida, author of The Way of the Superior Man, suggests when coming upon an attractive young girl to breath her into your soul, allow her youthful vitality to replenish your spirit, and exhale slowly, letting her go.
We’re living in strange times that seek to condemn our naturalness. We need to be ourselves and not give in. It’s easy to deny our feelings and attractions in the face of the prevailing witch hunt turning over every rock in search of “dangerous pedophiles.” But denying who we are and feeling guilty over our attractions provides a disservice to our integrity and undermines our mental health.
It’s confusing, and how could it not be? On the one hand, we’re constantly fed images on billboards, TV, in magazines and the movies of young girls sexualized to look eighteen. On the other hand, we’re warned to keep our attractions in check or risk living the rest of our lives under sex offender registration. The witch hunters of the 1950s accused people of being communists if they attended socialist gatherings out of curiosity when they were kids. The witch hunters of 2015 accuse people of being sex offenders for touching friends out of curiosity when all were underage.
The current crop of witch hunters recklessly and inaccurately blur distinctions between the terms “pedophile” and “predator,” suggesting that every pedophile—someone sexually attracted to children—is going to deal with their attractions inappropriately. The American Psychiatric Association disagrees. In its latest diagnostic manual, DSM 5, they took steps to destigmatize pedophilia, drawing a distinction between those who act on their attractions and those who don’t. One can be a pedophile and still agree with the culture’s prohibition of adult child sexual interaction, never acting on their attractions inappropriately. Those who act responsibly are no longer considered to be mentally ill. The APA took the same step in the 1970s, declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness.
So the next time your daughter brings home a friend who makes your heart flutter, breath her into your soul while silently humming “Thank heaven for little girls,” and take them both to lunch.