THE CHRISTIAN / RATIONAL APPROACH TO PAEDOPHLES
As a result of some comments to this Blog in the last few days I want to address the highly sensitive topic of what might be the Christian / rational approach to paedophilia.
This topic always - and understandably - generates very hysterical responses as any right thinking person has to feel very upset and even very angry about anyone hurting an innocent and defenceless child.
The sexual, physical, mental or emotional abuse of a child is one of the most horrific things that can happen in this world. It is, and always should be, one of the most serious crimes anyone can committ and should attract absolute condemnation by society and the heaviest of prison sentences. There is no excuse, no explanation and no justification for child abuse.
I have ministered to many victims of child abuse. In fact I am a victim myself. I was sexually abused by a neighbour when I was 6 years old and the experience had profound effects on me. Thankfully, through therapy and the passing of time I have long since passed over from being a victim to being a well adjusted survivor. Sadly some of those I know of or have ministered to, have never been able to make this life-saving journey :-( A small number have taken their own lives. Dominus Flavit!
BUT WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH THE ABUSERS???
In my ministry I feel that I have discovered that there are two BASIC TYPES of abusers:
1. Those who admit they have done serious wrong; who are genuinely sorry for what they did; and are willing to engage in life long management of their condition to make sure they never reoffend.
2. Those who do not accept they did wrong; who continue to deny what they did; do not want to change and deep down want to reoffend when and if they get the opportunity.
There is NOTHING that can be done for TYPE 2. They are extremely dangerous human beings and need 24/7 monitoring. They should never be allowed to be within a mile of a child; they should be made to live in areas where there are no families, schools etc. It is even difficult to make a case against their permanent detention.
BUT WHAT OF TYPE 1?
I believe that TYPE 1 should be given a second chance. While they are in prison they should have access to intensive therapy. When they come out of prison they should engage in life long management of their condition. They should be given the support they want to make sure they are never tempted to reoffend. They should organise every aspect of their lives to see to it that they are never alone in the presence of children. In fact they should avoid the company of children as much as possible.
I think that someone in this position is similiar to an alcoholic. They must admit that will always have their addiction. They must realise that there is no "cure". They should attend very regular meetings facilitated by professionals in order to manage their issue. Perhaps they should have a wise and capable "sponsor" to whom they have easy access if they ever feel under pressure.
I have experience of someone like this living in such a way as to never reoffend. This type of "recovery" is possible. It is difficult. But it is possible.
As Christians - or even as rational people - should we associate with people like this who are in recovery?
I believe we should. I believe that we should forgive.
As far as God is concerned there is no UNFORGIVABLE sin.
We are all sinners - in different ways. Thankfully we have not committed some of the serious sins that others have.
But we are all capable of anything - giving the right / wrong circumstances.
Maybe when we see or have to deal with abusers we should say what the older generations said: "But for the grace of God - there go I".
In some ways abusers are the "lepers" of our day. Jesus cured the lepers. Mind you he only cured those lepers who wanted to be cured and and asked for a cure. He never forced himself or his powers on anyone.
I know from experience that abusers can be very manipulative.
We cannot let anyone manipulate us.
But if a modern leper is truly truthful; truly sorry; truly sincere about the future; truly determined to live a new and amended life - on what grounds - human or spiritual - can we withold our hand?
It is on issues like this that our Christianity; our humanity and our rationality is challenged.
That is why it is so hard to be truly human - and even harder still to be a follower of the Nazarene.