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Question 32

Q: I can’t help but believe that many Christians have become little more than modern day Pharisees.

They cast stones at sexual sinners and support policies which subject them to a lifetime of scorn and pillory.

I read about a group of Christians that was organizing the residents, block by block, to petition the city council for tougher ordinances against released sex offenders. The outcome was that the sex offenders who lived there were required to move, and the restrictions are so severe that none of them will ever live there again. Could you imagine Christ helping to organize a group of citizens to get the harlots kicked out of Jerusalem? 

I’m one of thousands of men who have been convicted for internet solicitation and have been given a long prison sentence. There ought to be a more merciful way to deal with sexual crimes. Why doesn’t the Christian community become more active in helping to protect everyone’s dignity? Why am I made to suffer in such a severe fashion while homosexuality and adultery run rampant?  

Released ex-convicts are dumped back into a society without any hope of success since society views them as “once a criminal, always a criminal.” Christians should never forget that our primary responsibility is to redeem and restore, and to recover who is lost.

Asked by: Rob, Virginia


A: Well Rob, I want you to know that I read your questions with mixed emotions.

I disagree with you about the wrongness for Christians to get organized and to make sure that sex offenders don’t live in their area. The reason for that is because of what happens to children. If I had children, I would also be protective, and that’s something that you need to recognize. We know that not all sex offenders will repeat their behavior, but many do and we can’t tell which ones will.

You bemoan the fact that you are suffering severely, but remember what you were either planning to do or what you did. Sex offenders ruin children’s lives, oftentimes for the rest of their lives. Your letter makes me wonder whether or not you recognize the seriousness of this kind of sin.

On the other hand, I can be very sympathetic with the fact that there is a lot of shame and guilt that we as Christians have often heaped on people, as if God can’t forgive sex offenders for their crimes.

So I want to reaffirm to you, Rob, that God is able to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He can cleanse your conscience, and even though you’re in prison, God can be with you and use you where you are. At the same time, recognize that the greatness of your sin is up against the greatness of God’s grace and forgiveness, and that, thankfully, grace wins. Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.

Now I’d like to make a comment about the prison system. I agree that oftentimes prisoners, ex-offenders, are simply dumped out into society and they’re supposed to sink or swim on their own. I believe that’s why so many people end up back in prison. They go back to their old sins, maybe they don’t have money, so they begin to steal. I understand all that. And these problems are huge. But let’s never minimize the impact of sexual offenders in the lives of children, and their families. 

Rob, cleave to God. Receive His forgiveness and even, if I may suggest, also forgive the Christians who have hurt you. Maybe they weren’t as loving as they were supposed to be, but they were doing what they thought was right for their children and their community.

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