Recently, in New York City, a group of psychiatrists met to discuss pedophilia.  Their general consensus was that society is far too hard on those who desire to engage in sexual activity with children.  That perhaps, we should redefine the words we use to describe that particular predilection.  Adult-adolescent love, or some such term as that, might be less offensive.  Less judgmental.

It seems that they just can’t help the way that they are.  Their desires are hard-wired.  And who are we to judge?

Of course, on some level, I agree.  Our sinful desires are ‘hard-wired.’  This is called ‘original sin.’  It means that we are fallen, broken, morally and spiritually flawed.

On the surface this always rankles the non-religious.  But in fact, it is a very democratic doctrine.  It says that no one is better than anyone else.  It says that no amount of success or wealth, nor any amount of victim-hood or denigration makes anyone better or worse than anyone else.  Most faiths, outside the Judeo-Christian framework, suggest that there is no sin, or that we are all good, but in particular that we can earn the favor of divinity.  Which of course, sets up a kind of meritocracy.  Judaism and Christianity, and even Islam, detonate that theory from the start.

However, the fact that an act is innate, or ‘hard-wired,’ in no way reduces the wickedness of acting on that tendency.  In the same way as a genetic disease is still a disease, an innate sin is still a sin.  We are called to love the sinner, to offer God’s grace, to help the sinner through their tendency to holiness (even if the battle is life-long).  But the sin remains what it is.

However, if we will follow the logic of  ‘I am what I am,’ let me suggest something else.  I am:  a Christian.  There is scientific evidence which suggests that ‘religiosity’ is also hard-wired.  At least in some of us, it is.

I am:  a physician with a good job.  I am thankful. But maybe, from an evolutionary standpoint, I just ‘am’ a more successful, more capable competitor in the market.  To that extent, I am not ‘fortunate,’ or ‘lucky,’ but capable.

I am:  a father.  I am a man whose tendency is to a) father children and b) enjoy raising them.  I cannot imagine being otherwise. The fact that I have a wife and four children does not make me a social plague or a nasty ‘breeder.’  It’s who I am and what I am.  Genetically, and also apparently, evolutionarily.

I am:  a conservative.  I am spiritually, culturally, politically and economically conservative.  Who knows?  Perhaps my politics and other tendencies are as hard-wired as anything else in my life.

I am:  a heterosexual with no interest in men or children.  Apparently this is hard-wired, according to modern thought.  To that extent, I am neither less enlightened nor less interesting than those whose tendencies lie elsewhere.

I am:  a gun-owning, gun-toting Appalachian.  In my worldview, wired as I am, those who threaten my family or my person may well be met with violence.  A firearm is a convenient means to administer said violence, and I am reasonably facile at it.  I cannot help it.  I am what I am.

As such, those whose tendencies leave them interested in sexual activity with children would run afoul of my tendency to shoot people who hurt or threaten my children.  Is that due to my innate tendency to follow ancient spiritual laws?  Is that due to my conservatism that believes in preserving what I believe to be good and valuable?  Is that due to my tendency to survive as a good product of eons of Darwinian evolutionary success?  Who knows.

But I am what I am.  So those who have been redefined as no longer pedophiles should, with fair-warning, beware.   They might be redefined as targets.  Not in anger, not because I do not care for them or their souls.  But because I am what I am.  And I can’t help myself!

Maybe, ‘I am what I am,’ isn’t such a great argument after all.

Ya think?

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