While Pedophilia is not yet culturally acceptable and it may even seem unthinkable that it ever would be, in America I find the trajectory we are in regarding sexual ethics to be extremely troubling. We’ve gone from an acceptance of no-fault divorce to a culture that has no issue with fornication, then to gay marriage, then to transgenderism. Now we see these things being pushed towards young children, which if we’re honest, definitely seems like an attempt to groom them and change them into the image of their own sexual depravity. So while the culture at large at the moment still has an aversion to the wickedness of pedophilia, I fear that we may lose that at some point. So I think it would be helpful to begin to have a biblical polemic against pedophilia ready. Even though by the nature of things it’s obvious even to many non-Christians that pedophilia is wicked, invariably we will be faced with the question, “Where in the Bible does it say it’s wrong?” I’ll be focusing on one particular passage today in answering that question today.
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:1–7 (KJV)
To start my analysis of this passage, it’s important to remember that the Bible condemns all sex outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). This is evident even from the passage here when the Apostle Paul writes “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” Fornication is to be avoided, and the solution to this is marriage. Thus we can dismiss all sexual relations outside of marriage, including pedophilia. However, to defeat any concept of pedophilia within some sort of child marriage (marriage to someone who is prepubescent), we have to continue unpacking the passage.
This passage appears to have been written in response to a statement the Corinthians had said in a letter to Paul that “It was not good for a man to touch a woman.” This means that the Corinthians felt that it was good to not have sexual relations at all, which Paul goes on to correct. As we’ve already seen, he tells us that it is good to be married in order to avoid temptation to sin. In the third verse, he then starts to explain why: namely, that the wife is to give to the husband due benevolence to satisfy him, and vice versa for the wife. Thus being satisfied, neither party will be likely to try to seek sexual gratification in a sinful way. In the fourth verse, Paul even goes on to say that neither party should view their body as their own but should give it up sacrificially to their significant other. Verse five implicitly reiterates this point, as husband and wife are to not engage in marital relations only for a season. To do so for too long might allow the devil an opportunity to promote sin again.
So what does this have to do with pedophilia? Children are incapable of being sexually gratified. They’re bodies haven’t grown yet, nor have their minds been prepared for it yet through puberty. Thus, they cannot be involved in the mutual relationship Paul is talking about here. Marriage isn’t about selfishly gratifying your own sexual desires at the expense of your partner, but is about loving and giving yourselves up one for another. This is impossible when one partner is a child. That sexual relationship can only be selfish, the child gets nothing out of it and can only hurt them since their body isn’t designed for that yet, nor is their mind ready. There cannot be mutual submission when one has no desires to submit to. There is no defrauding, because there is nothing to defraud.
I also feel the need to address verse six, to prevent someone from twisting it to nullify the passage by saying he’s not ‘commanding’ that marriage be this way. When Paul is telling us this is permission and not commandment, he’s referring to it being permissible to be married, not that it was commanded that one has to be married. This is shown by the next verse, where he says that he desires that they would be like him (unmarried). For evidence that this is what Paul means when he say he desires that men were like himself, see what Paul says in the next two verses:
I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. 1 Corinthians 7:8–9 (KJV)
So while burning with lust isn’t an excuse for sin, if a biblical marriage may be helpful for avoiding sin it can be taken advantage of to prevent temptation.
The Good News
I want to end this post with hope towards pedophiles. Pedophilia is a disordered and evil desire, but Jesus Christ the God-man is able to save you from the power and consequences of your sin.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (KJV)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (KJV)
Your sins are not so great that they cannot be overcome by the grace of God:
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20–21 (KJV)