"Who stands up for them?" Was the question I was asked a few weeks ago. It was posed by a mom whose son was looking to go back into prison for a violation of probation. I could go into my opinions and thoughts of why I agreed or disagreed with the decision of the courts, but in the weeks following I have thought more about the perception and the answer to this moms question.
Why do we fear what we fear? Is it reality? Why are we more afraid of sharks then bees? We have a much greater chance of dying of bee stings than a shark attack. Why are we more afraid of a stranger breaking into our house or our lives and doing savage harm? Reality if something bad were to happen to us it is much more of a likelyhood that it would be someone we know.
So when this mom asked the question of who stands up for them? She was referring to her son who is a convicted sex offender. The answer is basically no one. This is one area of politics and social justice issues that everyone can put their collective anger together on and say these are the bad people of society and even though we cant agree on much we can agree on the punishment and permanent mark against these people.
I am never going to diminish or speak in agreement of what many people have done. There has been many awful things done to people I know, and it is never ok and should never be minimized. This is where our thinking gets extremely difficult. Sex offenders have committed crimes that have violated trust and went strongly against society values. Now what?
Sex offenders bear the brunt of society anger, both just and unjustified. I am not going to paint them as victims or that they don't deserve overt scrutiny because I understand some of it is very just.
But in the end how do we treat sex offenders as people God loves, God created, and God cares for?
One of the biggest frustrations I have with the church is a response I typically get. "Ben I am so glad you have a heart for these people( anyone messy outside of the church) but it isnt for me." I am sorry that is a cop out. I can be as selfish and self centered as anyone else and it is a daily choice to get involved in other peoples drama. I personally dont think as someone who follows Jesus that we can make our own standards of conduct and the lines we draw of who we treat well and who we dont.
Everyone in life I have ever met I disagreed with a decision they have made, including myself. To love care or show Gods grace does not mean I agree or affirm decisions made because I dont, but I dont think that excludes me from showing love and grace to anyone.
So when this mom asked the question of who stands up for her son, can I say I do? I do it with hesitancy and some trepidation. I dont stand up for him because he has made every right decision, I do so because he is created in the image of Christ and just as lepers were treated with distain and even less than human Jesus didnt do that. Jesus could have played the ultimate victim card but he didnt he responded in love and grace to the people who killed him. I know many have faced awful tragedies and pain. But is our response fear based and worry about something else? Or is our response like Jesus and full of humility grace and love?