Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mere Morals and Pedophilia

When I was in my late 30s, a chain of events unexpectedly led to dozens of high school kids befriending me, about half of whom were girls. Some of the girls became surprisingly close to me, visiting every day, and so forth. I didn't have sex with any of them, but I did learn how dizzying it is to have an attractive girl make a pass at you, irregardless of the fact she's much younger than you.

Those experiences taught me -- I'm not a very moral man. For I sure didn't turn down any of those dizzying opportunities for moral reasons. My moral sense simply isn't strong enough to resist such things. In every case, the only thing that kept me from statutory rape were various practical considerations. Considerations such as: The gulf between her expectations and mine; and that any relationship was likely to lead to major disappointments for the both of us.

Sometime towards the end of that period in my life, I met three men who turned out to be a pastor and his two sons -- both of the sons were pastors, too. Although we met only briefly, the three men stuck in my mind because they had behaved as if they were hiding something. A few days later, I picked up the newspaper and discovered the oldest son was on trial for having sex with a 13 year old choir girl. Later that summer, he was convicted.

I've wondered about that man ever since. I know some people will say, "His morals weren't strong enough". But, to me, that doesn't begin to explain it. I know my own morals aren't strong enough to resist such temptations, yet I've never committed statutory rape. So, I've wondered: Did he give into temptation because all he had to hold him back was a mere moral code? Are mere morals ever strong enough?

8 comments:

BrandonE said...

I think the reasons you stated are in fact moral reasons, as you were motivated by a desire to do what was best for all parties involved. They were also obviously more compelling than a distant deity saying "Because I said so."

stevo said...

Regular morals go out the window when sex is involved. You could be an ethical businessman who does no harm, gives to charity, speaks well of those he dislikes, but still fall for a 14-year-old Thai hooker. The two are aren't compatible. Sex is a primal desire, and morals are fabricated. I don't think one can be expected to govern the other.

C. L. Hanson said...

My reaction is similar to brandone's: "The gulf between her expectations and mine; and that any relationship was likely to lead to major disappointments for the both of us" sounds suspiciously like concern about potentially taking advantage of someone...

Paul said...

Brandon and C.L., I'm having a hard time thinking of how to respond to your insistence that I'm a moral man. On the one hand, it flatters me dearly that you would think so. But on the other hand, I know I don't take the actions I take (nor refuse the actions I refuse to take) because I'm acting according to some conventional moral principle.

That's to say, I act (or don't act) mostly because I know, or believe I know, the likely consequences of an act. But I can't express my point this morning any better than that. I fear I need to think through how best to say what I mean here, and then perhaps write a post on it. That's not to say, I entirely disagree with you, but rather, there's a nuance here I've not a good enough job getting at.

Stevo, that's an important point, methinks! Sex is quite often of more importance to us than any moral principles we might entertain.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I agree with Brandone and Chanson. If you had no morals at all, you'd do what you wanted with those girls who tempt you or offer themselves to you. To a man with no morals, the question of "Why not?" wouldn't even enter into it.

Paul said...

LOL! Sister Mary Lisa, if you, Brandon, and Chanson keep ganging up on me here, you're likely to convince me I'm moral. Then what will that do to my carefully cultivated reputation as a dirty old man? You'll be the ruin of me!

Jonathan Blake said...

I think we're using the word "moral" to loosely mean two things: the outlook that says that there is a right and wrong to a decision which has been ordained by God, and the innate sense of what's most beneficial for me (and consequently those I feel concern for). I see the first sense as a mask for the second.

The concept of morality is so muddled, that I think it would be better for us to lay it aside and find new ways to look at things.

Paul said...

Hi Jonathan! Welcome! I think you're right that "morality" is being used here to mean more than one thing. Furthermore, I think we're all in much more agreement here than it might seem at first.