Warning: This entry addresses issues you may find very offensive.
I learned today that a man who molested his niece while visiting her family here pled guilty and received a sentence of 40 years in prison and will have to serve the first fifteen years with no possibility of parole. This sentence seems grossly inadequate for a man who repeatedly sodomized and raped his teenage niece. He then used the classic child molester defense and said she forced herself on him. According to him if she had not been so sexually aggressive none of this would have happened.
As bad as this guy sounds there are others who are much worse. In the county just north of hear a young boy was kidnapped and then molested by a man and his father while the mother/wife looked on and derived her own sexual pleasure. All this when the young boy has a plastic bag over his head. His body was found dumped not far from the scene of the crime. None of these monsters has gone to trial.
About five years ago a man who lived directly across the street from me pled guilty to 13 counts of child molestation and received an 80 year sentence on each charge. When caught he owned up to what he had done and made a full confession. This man was my neighbor. Hiding in plain sight. And there are always more. More horror stories. More very real monsters.
In cases like this I find it particularly hard to stick to my Christian beliefs. Having been on the receiving end of a great deal of abuse as a child I know my reaction is skewed, that it awakens demons in me best left alone. Part of me cries out with an eye for an eye, to make the punishment fit the crime. In fact many times I have said that if I discover that anyone has done anything like this to a member of my family I will settle the score myself and the courts be damned. I take no offense in knowing that while in prison child molesters often discover how it feels to be raped and sodomized. They stay on the lowest level of the inmate/prison hierarchy and find no peace, no solace.
Where is our God? Does the stench of this inhumanity not rise up to offend him? Is there really any shared humanity with these monsters? Are they really the likeness and image of our creator?
Or am I not asking the right questions? Perhaps I am not looking closely enough in the mirror. What does this rage, this cry for no mercy say about me? Is the stench of my sins any less offensive?
I have been many times been loved when I was all but unlovable. My actions shamed me and left me undeserving of mercy. But even during those times when the demons in me went unchecked I still found the hand of love extended to me. Even then I was not measured by my inhumanity but by my humanity, my potential for good.
It is easy for me to hate these men, yet we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. To judge not lest we be judged. Some say to hate the sin but love the sinner. Who does this hatred hurt? Not the monsters, they have no idea I even exist. It is an acid that eats away at the goodness in me, making room for even more hatred, less room for genuine compassion. Lord help me.