Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Question About Sex

Because there's no place like an anonymous internet message board to look for expertise on such matters.

Dan Savage, the syndicated gay sex advice columnist who is more likely than anybody else I know to say something horrifying and something incredibly wise in a twenty minute span of conversation, said that he thought some of the most admirable people around were pedaphiles who had sexual urges and managed to control these urges.

I thought his reasoning was interesting. He said that pedaphiles who act on their urges are clearly monsters. Furthermore, in most cases we distinguish between a sexual thought and a sexual action (or do we? -- see below). So a married man who sees a woman and finds her attractive is not an adulterer. But someone who finds a child attractive is automatically a pedaphile, and are usually terrified of seeking any kind of help. So, Dan theorized, there must be a whole class of people who are basically attempting to minister themselves to keep themselves from becoming monsters. And these people deserve praise, as well as enough social leeway to be able to get help for their problem.

Do you agree with any or all of that? To what extent do you think sexual urges can be separated from sexual actions? Do you think containing/repressing/otherwise channeling sexual urges is possible? If so, is there a way to hold up certain people as role models (or at least as praiseworthy exemplars)? Do we have a good way of talking about different degrees of attraction?

For my part, I suspect Dan Savage is right, but I don't see how we can identify, to say nothing of celebrating, the celibate pediphile. It strikes me as a case of moral luck rather than moral strength. Thus, reviving an old discussion, it seems to me another argument for a kind of grace (or lack thereof).

Interested in your thoughts...