A week ago, after watching an episode of Criminal Minds on CBS that dealt with a pedophile, I remarked to my wife how pedophilia had become the crime du jour in popular culture. After all, it’s hard to find these days a television crime drama that hasn’t tracked down a villainous child molester just in the nick of time. Even on reality TV, Dateline NBC makes catching pedophiles a regular event.
Little did I know that a couple of days later the Mark Foley scandal would break, giving pedophilia and even larger stage. Only days after that, it came to light that the Amish school shooter was likewise a pedophile.
I’m not sure what to make of all this, but I am certain that it’s abhorrent. Do I think there’s a connection between more frequent portrayals of pedophilia in pop culture and more frequent instances of pedophilia? Probably not. I do, however think that it’s interesting how the last sexual behavior that is almost universally condemned has gained such a public forum. On one hand it is good because it makes us aware that there are twisted, evil people like Mark Foley out there waiting to prey on our children. Let us take heed and be on our guard.
On the other hand, I fear that such an obsession with pedophilia as occurs in our culture today desensitizes us. The gravity of the crime is lessened as it becomes more commonplace (I’m speaking primarily about fictional accounts in TV and movies). I pray that we do not lose our outrage at such sins.
Sin is not a word that many like to use. These days, it’s typically reserved for high crimes like murder, rape, and pedophilia. Even then, more often than not these crimes are attributed to childhood experiences or social factors rather than resident evil in a person. And so it goes with sin. Once the weight of a sin is lightened, we tend to give it a new label. It’s not so bad, is it?
One by one we’ve seen sexual sins normalized, made commonplace, and even praised. I pray to God we keep pedophilia away from this trend. Let us give it the proper gravity, and let us be shocked, disgusted, and just.