Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dare I Say?

Sex Offenders. Just the words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of parents across the nation. And, I'm no different than any other parent. With two daughters, I want them to be protected from the sick, twisted minds that prey upon others.

But, at the same time, I feel torn between this rabid desire to protect my family and a mission field to which I've been called: Prison.

As I work in the prisons, I have met sex offenders. Their stories are hard to believe until you look it up in court records. A common case involves the 18-year-old with a 16-year-old girlfriend. She gets pregnant and her father has him incarcerated for child molestation. In many ways, the father is right. But had this happened one year earlier (a 17- and 15-year-old), there would have been no legal case. Now, the boyfriend is a registered sex offender.

Society has recently begun clamping down on sex offenders; in many cases this clampdown is proper. Too many adults are harming young children. When I hear about the 40-year-old who has molested a 6-year-old, I burn with rage. But this is actually a small percentage of sex offenders.

Recently, my local homeowner's association has announced that they are trying to take steps to keep sex offenders from residing in our neighborhood. How do I stand on this?

If I were to agree with the HOA, I would be guilty of not giving people a fair shake. The very people I have begun to speak up for are the people I would be hurting.

I find it hard to stand up for them, however, because I am just as afraid as the next parent that something horrible will happen to my daughters.

It would be easy to side with society, saying that it is in the interest of public safety. It would be easy to face my neighbors with the knowledge that I have done what they believe to be right.

But could I face the men I work with three times every week knowing that I have chosen an easy road simply because it was easy or because I was afraid? Would I be able to fulfill my calling in the prisons? Would I be right in doing so?

I believe that we are all called to answer to a higher Authority - an Authority that loves all people unconditionally, regardless of their past history. To do otherwise is to tell the Supreme Authority that we are not worthy of His grace and mercy.

Should the halfway house remain in my neighborhood? I'm praying about that. I'm praying that I will be guided by the Lord to remain true to His Word. I'm praying that I will remain true to His calling in my life - to stand up for those who have served their time and want to make a new start on their lives in His mercy and grace just as I have.

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5 Comments:

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger sf_49erfan said…

    I think we need a classification system for sex offenders. Maybe Class A and Class B. Class A offenders would be like the young man you mentioned that slept with his 16-year-old girlfriend (a two year difference). They really didn't harm anyone (as long as it wasn't rape). Class B would be for the violent offenders.

     
  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger Simpsongirl said…

    Clay,

    I think we do need to keep looking with fresh eyes at this situation. I don't think we are there yet.

    I agree that we need to give these men a chance to begin again. We have all been shown mercy by God. But, some are unable to get control of their desires. I do think in some cases, we are helping them by keeping them out of child-filled neighborhoods. We also have a duty as Christians to help protect the innocent children.

    I think there is wisdom in a conservative approach to rehabilitation. In the name of grace, we would certainly welcome anyone to worship with us in our churches, regardless of their past. We wouldn't however recruit them to work in the nursery. At least not from the beginning. That's my 2 cents.

    I also want to affirm you in the work you are doing in the prisons. You are right on target, brother!

     
  • At 10:19 AM, Anonymous anne jackson said…

    Wow, this is hard for me to comment on. As someone who was sexually abused at 16 by a youth pastor who was 25...I let him get away with it. I know I have a year to press charges if I go that way, but I have always wondered these last 10 years if it is something that he continues to do, even though he is in a high position of leadership with a missions organization. Was it an error in judgment or a consistent probably as a predator? I'm not sure...Grace and Justice the Lord does provide, but also we are to follow the laws in place by our government. I am struggling with this issue of pressing charges, and knowing he would be "labeled" as this for the rest of his life. That's not my fault...they are his consequences.

     
  • At 5:19 PM, Blogger NChitwood said…

    my father-in-law is a sick man who has committed "acts of harm" against my neices and sister-in-law. this is a hard subject to speak out about. either way, i am glad to see that you have been challenged with this subject and are brave enough to speak out loud about it. thanks for making others think too. sometimes, the human side in us all makes it way to easy to say "fry the sucker!" but as you have pointed out, christ may want us to think a little harder before saying that. great post clay!

     
  • At 10:46 PM, Blogger ClayMan said…

    I appreciate all the comments on this post. There are some startling truths from all who commented, and this is not a cut-and-dried answer.

    While I don't want dangerous people living close to my daughters, I also want them (and all people) to be treated fairly. It's a paradox.

    Thank you!

     

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