[ ped-uh-fil-ee-uh or, especially British, pee-duh- ]noun Psychiatry.
sexual desire in an adult for a child. (dictionary.com)
To read more of the biblical basis for PLUM, buy the book PLUM: A Theology of Sex at plumtheology.com
Pedophilia is indeed sinful, but not because the current majority of the United States population believes it to be disgusting. It is important for Christians to remember to always rely upon God’s Word, the Bible, to discern what is truly sinful, regardless of where the current majority stands. It wasn’t long ago when homosexuality and transgenderism would have been unanimously considered to be immoral; it was even in the psychology DSM V as a disorder (since has been removed). However, as it became more and more acceptable in the American culture, it has been revealed that many Christians have struggled to continue to view LGBT issues as sinful, because their previous understanding of it was not based on God’s unchanging truth, but rather it was based purely on cultural norms. God forbid, if pedophilia becomes gradually normalized in our culture (as some communities are trying to do), especially with the constant flow of child-sex trafficking in the country, there will probably be many Christians who will begin to slide on their stance against pedophilia simply because they never had a biblical basis as to why it is sinful, but only believed it to be sinful because it just hadn’t become popular enough to be considered normal. This is why it is so important that we take a look at Scripture as to why pedophilia was, is, and always will be sinful.
I believe sexual sin is defined by whatever does not properly reflect the image of God in the four purposes of sex (pleasure, love, unity, multiplying), not by whatever happens to be considered weird or gross. Although all sin is indeed gross in God’s view, what man considers to be weird or gross in one part of the world may very well be viewed as perfectly acceptable in other parts of the world. For example, a 30-year-old man marrying a 16-year-old girl in the United States would be considered a crime, but in other parts of the world where adulthood is defined by puberty and physical development, that relationship is normalized, and possibly even arranged! Remember that Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, we likely a couple very similar to this, as was the custom of their culture.
It’s important to keep in mind the strict definition of pedophilia; sexual desire in an adult for a (prepubescent) child. The reason this is so important is because romantic relationships and sexual desire between teenagers (or post-pubescent) and adults does not fit in the definition of pedophilia. For the purposes of the focus of this article, I will just be addressing the sexual desire of an adult for a prepubescent child.
Based on the definition alone, pedophilia would be violating the seventh commandment (do not commit adultery) by the very fact that it involves sexual desire, fantasies, and urges. Jesus further defined the seventh commandment by saying that whoever looks at a woman (or any person) lustfully has committed adultery in their heart. So for any person or adult to even look or have sexual thoughts towards a child is already committing adultery.
However, the question then remains: why is it sinful for an adult to have a sexual desire for prepubescent children?
In addition to committing adultery in their heart, we can take a look at the four purposes of sex (PLUM) and see just how they are being misused by not properly reflecting the image of God in a pedophilic relationship.
PLEASURE: The pleasure in sex is to reflect the mutual pleasure that God has in redeeming His people form their sin.
The immense pleasure that is supposed to be experienced in a sexual relationship is not just supposed to be physical, but emotional as well. The thought of giving one’s body in the most vulnerable and intimate way to another person should be something that is emotionally pleasing regardless of how much physical pleasure there may or may not be. Husbands and wives will always experience a different amount of physical pleasure in their sexual relationship, but the emotional pleasure of giving their bodies to one another in complete safety and mutuality should always be there.
When it comes to pedophilia, there is no way for a child to understand the significance of giving up their body to another person sexually. This is what makes children so susceptible to sexual abuse. There are many cases of adults who were sexually abused as children who would say that at the time of their abuse, they weren’t even aware that what was happening to them was considered sexual abuse. Prepubescent children typically have a general trust that the adults in their lives are looking out for their best interests. This is why Jesus said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4) God designed children to be naturally trusting of adults, because adults are supposed to protect children. One of the sins that God punished the nation of Israel for was the fact that they started participating in the sacrificing of their own children and babies (2 Kings 17, Ezekiel 16).
Pedophilic relationships do not represent the mutual pleasure that is to be shared between two people sexually. It is an adult that violates the trust of a child who naturally trusts them to look after their best interest. These relationships are simply a glorification of sexual abuse and molestation of a child.
Another significance of puberty is the fact that it is a clear developmental stage that prepares the body for sexual relations. The hormones surging through both boys and girls during puberty are all there as a part of God’s design to signify the transition into adulthood. Since this is the case, how could a prepubescent girl possibly know what it is to give her body sexually to another person if her body has not yet even told her to yet?
LOVE: The love in sex is to reflect the love between God and His people
The unconditional love that God has for His people in that while they were still His enemies, Christ died for them is an unparalleled kind of love. Yet Christians are called to take up their cross daily and love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, and strength. The fact that Christians fail daily at trying to accomplish this kind of love is all the more reason why it’s so important to understand that salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone. In pedophilia, specifically those adults who claim there are “in love” with the prepubescent child of their affection, it can be clearly seen that the love that they claim exists is not reflective of the same kind of unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish, and devoted kind of love that God has for His people and that they have for their God.
God designed children to have a kind of unconditional love for their parents. This is why children can often be so forgiving and gracious (to a point, of course) towards their parents. Children naturally grow up hoping for the best in even the most tragic circumstances of mis-parenting. However, this kind of natural unconditional love towards adults is not to be betrayed by a sexual relationship with an adult. This would be another example of how easily mankind’s sinfulness can mar the image of God, by taking advantage of a God-given trust that children are to have towards their parents.
UNITY: The unity in sex is to reflect the eternal-unbreakable bond between Christ and His Church
One of the greatest joys of Christian life is knowing that God will never break up with His people.
This very truth is what separates Christianity from all other religions in the world. Every other religion is based upon the works (or self-righteousness) of the person in order to qualify them for heaven. If this was truly the case, then every person would live with some sense of fear of losing their chance at eternal life, or whatever they believe their eternal reward is going to be in the next life. Christianity bases salvation solely upon the righteousness of another, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God. It is only because of what Jesus did on behalf of repentant sinners that anyone who believes in Him are guaranteed eternal life in heaven with the holy God.
Pedophilia horribly skews the picture of the eternal-unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church (Christians) in the fact that even if (and that’s a BIG “if”) the adult in the relationship plans on entering an unbreakable-marriage covenant with a prepubescent child, there is no way that child is in a state of mind to make the same commitment. Once again, without first going through puberty, there is nothing in the child’s brain and body development that tells them they need to be preparing for such a lifelong commitment. Besides all this, I am already very skeptical that any pedophile would desire such a goal as to reflect the picture of Christ and the Church in their pedophilic relationship. Who knows, maybe I will meet a pedophile someday that will claim they have a true desire to be in a lifelong sexual relationship to just one child. Even then, pedophilia is still utterly sinful.
MULTIPLYING: The multiplying purpose of sex is to reflect God’s desire to grow His kingdom
This might just be the most obvious misuse of the purposes of sex in pedophilia. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” is also reinforced and further revealed when Jesus said to His disciples “Go and make disciples of all the nations…”. The command to be fruitful and multiply is not so much about how many children people have, but it is much more about the purpose of having children in the first place. God is not pleased by people having a bunch of children in and of itself, but He is pleased when parents have children (or adopt) with the sole purpose of teaching them what it means to know God through faith in Jesus Christ. Overall, evangelism and discipleship is the ultimate goal of being fruitful and multiplying.
Pedophilia shows a blatant disregard to the multiplying purpose of sex in that one of the two people in the “relationship” is physically incapable, if it’s a girl, of having children. The multiplying purpose of sex is properly used when both parties in a sexual relationship are mutually agreed that if their sexual relations result in a child, they are already committed to raising that child in a gospel-centered household in pursuit of seeing that child come to faith in Jesus Christ. A prepubescent child is incapable of making such a commitment since they themselves are children needing to be evangelized with the good news of the Gospel and then discipled so that they will later know what it means to become a parent when the time comes.
I hope this helps you have a solid biblical foundation as to why pedophilia is sinful in God’s eyes. I do believe it is possible for pedophiles to genuinely repent of their pedophilia and receive forgiveness from God for all their sins so that they would have eternal life in heaven. If they do not repent, they will die in their sins and suffer God’s eternal punishment in hell which will be filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth. We are all idolaters, thieves, murderers, adulterers, liars, blasphemers, and coveters and we all deserve God’s full cup of wrath to be poured out on us for eternity. Thankfully, God made a way for us to be spared of His righteous anger by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for all those who believe in Him. Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live, crucified as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and rose again from the grave on the third day to prove He had conquered death for all those who follow Him. Thanks be to God that He alone has the power to redeem all things for His glory!