How do we distinguish between a criminal and a good person who makes poor choices?
When someone hurts others in the church, there are two camps. One says we should not be too quick to shoot our wounded; the Circle the Wagons Group. Another says we should deal with them severely; the Grab the Millstone Group. The topic is super-charged when it comes to abusing children.
Even then there is a sliding scale of law. A 19-year-old boy in love and going too far with a 16-year-old girl would be on one end of that scale; a 50-year-old man raping a 2-year-old boy at the other.
I get it when the heavy millstone is grabbed for that 50-year-old reprobate. But when we say there is no cure for them, who is them? Are we throwing that 19-year-old into the same depths as the 50-year-old? The letter of the law can.
I recently circulated a story among security operators of a man who had a meltdown in a church, attacked the pastor and ran through the congregation naked. I posted his booking photo and commented on some of the ways the situation was handled.
He needed stopped quickly. A seasoned church security director however, pointed out that he could also see “hopelessness and defiant fear.”
There is no doubt the 50-year-old pedophile and the man in the picture above, both needed dealt with quickly and decisively. You protect – that’s what you do. But with prayerful discernment.
Think About it
My issue with the circle the wagons crowd, is that it leaves no discussion and little thought for the victim. As protectors, we do what we do out of love for the victims. We can’t just shut that off because some guy made a poor choice. We stand with the victim.
Others, however, are appointed to judge (form an opinion through the careful weighing of evidence and testing) of the offender.
We might agree or disagree with the judgment process, but we are not the judges. Trying to step into that role will only frustrate you.
So, how do we distinguish between a criminal and a good person who makes poor choices? We don’t. That’s a judge’s job. But judges aren’t there to protect. That’s our job.
And that 19-year-old boy? He just might become your son-in-law, then the grandpa to your great grandchildren. Use discernment in your protective action.