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Homosexuality Is Not Pedophilia (In Case You Didn’t Know That Already) 14 June 2006

Posted by Todd in Biology, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Science, Sexuality.

Earlier today, a guest raised a morality argument about homosexuality by conflating it with pedophilia, a favorite and hateful red herring of the conservative anti-gay agenda. Here is a modified version of something I wrote for another forum when someone posed the question whether it is ethical or worthwhile to compare homosexuality to pedophilia, even if the two are apples and oranges. I'm sure most of you can skip this post, as you already understand how ridiculous this conflation is, but recently I've been having a lot of believing and practicing Mormons stopping by, so I figure it is worth rehashing some of this publicly.

When is it a useful and meaningful project to compare homosexuality with pedophilia? Or is it always inappropriate, given their incommensurability as categories?

1. The problem is that since the mid-19th century, homosexuality has been conflated in the Western mind with pedophilia, because many of the early sexologists mis-categorized homosexuality as a psychopathology. To be fair, some sexologists (e.g., Havlock Ellis and Mangus Hirschfeld) understood quite early that homosexuality was not pathological, and made arguments for its naturalness and the rights of gay and lesbian individuals and even transgendered people as early as the 1910s. These researches figured out a long time ago that pedophilia was quite different. Unfortunately, in the public mind, especially where religion is involved, the conflation of the two has been long-lasting and intractable. “Save Our Children” is a favorite rallying cry of Christian anti-gay forces, from Anita Bryant to Pat Robertson to Russel M. Nelson (Mormon apostle). So when in the course of public discussions about gay rights people casually compare homosexuality and pedophilia, people accept the association as a given, without thinking about what they are saying.

Because of the refusal of such false and calomnous ideas to die, we live in a culture where we will inevitably have the conversations comparing pedophilia to homosexuality. [We should also be comparing to heterosexuality, but that doesn't happen.] And so I say, in the words of our fuhrer, W., Bring It On. Let's have the argument, and once and for all dislodge this bit of deeply harmful bullshit from our collective consciousness.

If you frame the comparison as the etiology of homosexuality vs. that of pedophilia, it seems like an incomplete question. If pedophiles are claiming that their sex acts are the result of a 'sexual orientation' and not a socio-pathology, then pedophilia must be compared to heterosexuality as well. Whether or not it is a sexual orientation comparable to homosexuality/heterosexuality is a valid scientific question that can be researched. I won't rehearse all the data in detail, but I will point out the basics. Whereas homosexuals and heterosexuals have no demonstrable socialization commonalities as groups, pedophiles do; and whereas both homosexuality and heterosexuality are demonstrably heritable, no studies have found any evidence of heritability among pedophiles.

What emerges among pedophiles is a picture of idividuals who are sociopathic. Some kinds of sociopathology are biological (faulty frontal lobes, usually); but other kinds are acquired and/or learned. In the case of pedophiles, they share almost universally histories of childhood violence (not necessarily sexual) and as an adult, the need to control or hurt using sex as the weapon. Pedophilia almost always manifests as a pathology that seeks to control its object. Key here, these are similar pathologies as those found in other sexual criminals, such as serial rapists or spousal abusers.

To return to the question at hand, to make comparisons among heterosexuals, homosexuals, and pedophiles is a perfectly legitimate thing to do scientifically. In fact, we learn alot from doing so. We learn that pedophiles actually are a different category altogether from the basic sexual orientations of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and in fact belong in the cateogries of criminal pathologies. You discover that pedophilia has the characteristics of rapists and spousal abusers, for example: 1) need to control, 2) inability to empathize, 3) the sincere belief that their victims “want it” or “deserve it”, 4) sexual pleasure from violence, etc.

This then helps us more clearly see that heterosexuality and homosexuality describe an individual's orientation separate from a sexual pathology. A heterosexual man, for example, can be a pedophile who preys on little boys; homosexual woman can be a spousal abuser.

In the end, the key thing to remember is that the conflation and comparison of homosexuality with pedophilia is a red herring at best, and a homophobic lie at worst the perpetuates hatred, fear, and violence against gay men and women.



1. nicolaepadigone - 15 June 2006


Thank you for sharing that. I think sometimes gays get a little too defensive when pedophilia is brought up, and I was not clear in my bringing it up that I did not compare the two in regards to pathology and criminality. My comparison was about choice. Gays claim they have no choice in their actions, therefore their actions must be “natural.” So do pedophiles. In no way do I mean that gays are on the same level criminally speaking. Far from it. But gays need to stop diluding themselves that they have no choice in their actions. Saying so implies that all natural characteristics/traits/factors force us to act out our feelings, and thus there is no accountability for choices because we’ve made no choices. Our choices have been made for us, and that is a ridiculous assertion. It is especially ridiculous because gays want their actions to be legalized, but yet they don’t think they should be held accountable for their actions because they had no choice in their actions, yet they want their actions to be held accountable by man’s laws.

So which is it? Are gays accountable for their actions or not? Can they be accountable to man’s laws and not to God’s?

2. mayan elephant - 15 June 2006

lovely. another thoughtless slippery slope assertion. you idiot.

dude, do you still beat your wife?

heterosexuals have their actions legalized and think there should be no accountability for their heterosexual behavior, after all, they really have no choice in the matter. your boy boyd packer and his buddies go far as to suggest that their choices are so limited and willpower so reduced that the sight of woman can trigger bad thoughts, choices and behavior. by damn, something so rotten should be criminilized i say. and more, anyone who is such a prisoner to their urges should not have civil rights.

So which isit? are straight folks accountable for their actions or not? can they be accountable to man’s laws and not to *your* god’s laws?

nickelsizebrain, you are a twit. confusing natural and pathological, harmless and harmful, welcome and unwelcome, consentual and predatory behavior, as you are so excited to do, is a sure sign of the nail that that has been embedded in your brain. remove the nail. get a clue.

3. belaja - 15 June 2006

Well, thanks for posting that anyway, Todd. (Doy.)

4. J. Todd Ormsbee - 15 June 2006


Seriously man, please read carefully the arguments that are being presented before you respond and then respond to those arguments. Your points are all directly refuted in my post, but you don’t address my critiques at all, and go on with your argument as if the conversation hadn’t advanced to the next level. Most difficult for me, however, is that your moral conclusions don’t follow from your position, in that you don’t carry them to their logical conclusions (which was Mayan Elephant’s point, although he said it in a more, er, pointed way).

5. Jer - 15 June 2006

Yeah, I can’t fathom why gays would get defensive when pedophilia is brought up.

One is an acquired pathology against a child without consent that causes harm to the child’s wellbeing, while the other is an inborn trait between equal partners that causes harm to no one other than those who can’t crack open their worldview a little.

It boggles the mind why they get so angry at the comparison.

6. Randy - 15 June 2006

Nic–just what conduct do you believe gays and lesbians held accountable for? It may come as a surprise, but unmarried adults sometimes have sex with one another, and they even enjoy it. These adults tend to have sex with people they find attractive and desirable, and probably most of them would tell you that their sexual orientation just is. Some people even call it love.

7. nicolaepadigone - 15 June 2006


you were right. we are not communicating one with another. it’s only going to get ugly if we continue it, although it already has with Mayan’s idiot comment.

my final comment on your blog is this: I hold every single human being accountable for their thoughts and their actions because in the end that is what God judges us by. Not identity, not tendencies, not anything but thoughts and actions. If a heterosexual has sex before marriage, he has broken God’s commands. If a heterosexual has sex outside of marriage, he has broken God’s commands. If a homosexual acts on his desires, he has broken God’s commands. I don’t hold one group of people to one standard and another to a totally different standard, and neither do the Brethren.

You all have a little too much hate in you for there to be any continuation of this, (and I notice Mr. Ormsbee is deliberately ignoring my questions on the other thread about scriptural examples of God approving of gay relationships. It only shows that he is in denial and uses science as justification, hoping it is enough to cover his actions.)


8. mayan elephant - 15 June 2006


if the scriptures are your only basis for information you are going to die of scurvy, you need vegetables dude, not just wafer things you find on the ground. and, you should bathe and not wear an animal skin around town.

thank god, yours and mine, that you are here to hold us all accountable. where the fuck would we be without you and the brethren as our judges and accountants? whew. have boyd call me by the way, i need him to judge me some more, i should tell him about dreaming of something other than a white christmas.

9. mayan elephant - 16 June 2006

“1. Gays believe that God created them as such.

Where is their proof of this? What scriptural references can they show of this? Take any from any religion. I’ll take all references, even the stretched ones (ex. God created nature and in all species there are gay animals). See, if we are ever to find common ground between “religionists” and “gay rights” then we’re going to need the scriptural references.

2. God says a great deal of things regarding marriage between a man and a woman in scripture. What does God say about gay relationships?”


for the umteenth time. stop being a clown. stop reading selectively. why dont you provide the answers.

1. Find the scripture reference that says god did NOT create gays.

you cannot do it. one, because it never happened. and two, if you are too lazy to read the answers to questions you posted you most certainly are too lazy to read a boring fiction book.

the scriptures were NOT written by god. they simply werent. they were written by dudes. wierd dudes at that.

so, relatively speaking, there is as much valid scientific and religious substance in a john grisham novel as there is in the bible. there is as much valid evidence of gods will, or the will imposed on god by zealots, in a harry potter novel as there is in the book of mormon.

and before you start to worry your pretty little head about my hard heart, just keep in mind who wrote the book of mormon. who dictated the words? hell, not even joseph smith claimed that God wrote it. he was too much of an entrepeneur to pull that stunt.

so, stop this shit nic. dont ask us for answers where they dont exist, and then claim some higher ground for having asked the question. its illogical. and more, it pisses people off. i realize you are trapped in mormonthink, where pissing people off and feeling elite and fastracked to the celestial kingdom is the status quo, a right, respected and encouraged. but, for the sake of a brighter future, not to mention increasing the probability of getting yourself laid again before you die, change. stop trying to box someone in with a some shitty argument to make yourself feel better about hating and judging others.

i dont really like you honestly, i think you are meanspirited fuck to repeteadly hammer your dumb comments on my dear friends blog. i dont like your tone of trapping someone while offering nothing. what you do offer is bait, not dialogue.

that said, i would like you to change your head a bit. because if you dont, you will have a shitty life. the world is moving ahead without the mormon shackles. you can choose to enjoy it, appreciate it and understand the changes. or you can continue to be a pissy turd on the edge of society, where all hope for happiness rests in the dream of a magic castle in the celestial kingdom. in the meantime, real life can be pretty fuckin cool, and you are missing it.

now, in case you missed it in another comment: change. be respectful. stop asking for impossible shit. or just shut the fuck up.

10. Trish - 8 March 2007

I was hoping to find something helpful here in my pursuit to understand homosexuality, but most of what I’ve found is non-sensical crudeness and a total disrespect for varying opinions. Thanks for nothing of value.

11. Todd - 9 March 2007


I’m not sure if you’re talking about me or my commenters, but it doesn’t matter. You’ve made the classic mistake of writing a non-comment. Rather than engaging in the discussion, you’ve done a drive-by insult and run away.

I’m not sure what constitutes “disrespect of varying opinions.” One one hand, I’ve allowed all kinds of comments to stay up on my blog, because I want people to have their voice in the conversations. On the other hand, I’m not going to pretend that all opinions are of equal value. In fact, many are wrong, and some are even dangerous. The purpose of free speech isn’t so that everyone can feel warm and cozy in their opinions, but rather so that false ideas can be revealed and rejected, and we can move ever forward in our quest to understand the world we live in and to lead better, more ethical lives.

12. Huckabee again *#&! « The Inverse Square Blog - 18 January 2008

[…] of the conflation of the act of bestiality pedophilia with sexual orientation, gay or straight. See this post from a couple of years ago as a pretty good example of folks doing good work year after year, using […]

13. penny stewart - 14 April 2010

And what of the men that sexually abuse little girls??????? They aren’t homosexual. They aren’t pedarists. Why gay bash, when many heterosexual men have committed that crime?

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