As Orthodox Christians we are called to follow our Lord’s example and to refrain from casting the first stone, we are enjoined to judge not. And our American criminal justice system rests upon the Constitution’s bedrock guarantee of a fair hearing and of being treated as innocent until being proven guilty. What I learned today made it very hard to leave that first stone at rest, to not cast it in anger. I suppose you could say I am casting it now.
Earlier this week we arrested a husband and wife for abusing their 23-month-old son. From all appearances and from interviews with the parents this young boy lived a life of horror, subject to severe beatings, beatings bad enough to produce the deepest and most dangerous bruises. There was deep bruising all over him, on his abdomen, his buttocks and even his scrotum.
The mother admitted to striking him with a closed fist in the past. She also admitted to throwing her son down so hard this week that the impact split his skull and caused swelling and bleeding of the brain. She also stated that she went outside to smoke a cigarette before calling 911. This incident led to the arrests. The child is in intensive care kept alive by a ventilator. The doctors want to do a full body scan to discover the full extent of his injuries but cannot because of his reliance on the ventilator. In the most bitter of ironies the mother is six months pregnant.
The father admitted to knowing that his wife was severely abusing their son and also admitted that he conspired with her to keep her actions hidden. He said he feared coming home one day to find his son dead. Under Georgia law they are equally complicit and face similar charges.
This young boy was truly a child of wrath, born into a world of pain, pain dealt out at the hands of his mother. I know that most of you who read these postings never come close to such evil. Many times these stories become a window with a view of the slaughterhouse. If these writing offend you please forgive me, but I feel compelled to tell these stories, to shed a brighter light on the evil with which we share this world. The least I can do is tell the stories, to lift up their names up in prayer.
I believe God created us to be especially sensitive to these issues, to lay down our lives for our children (as He did for us) without question or hesitation. Children are our greatest treasure, the storehouse of our memories, the mirror in which we see ourselves as we really are. There is no reality check quite like having a child mouth obscenities and to know full well you were his teacher. Children are quite literally our future. They carry with them a distinct, individual combination of genes handed down from parents and grandparents. We are all individuals but we are also all the same. Each of us is a being created in the image of our Maker and as such worthy of all the love we can create.
Our own salvation was purchased at the price of a Son. We understand this sacrifice so well because the thought of losing a child resonates deeply, at the very core of our being, the one nightmare all parents dread. Could we willingly lay down the life of a child?
Such barbarism, especially between a mother and her child raises many questions. How could a loving, omnipotent, omniscient God allow such horrors to happen? This question tripped me up for many years. Having suffered abuse and having seen the depths of depravity into which we can fall I rejected the notion of a loving, caring God. How could he not lash out in holy anger? How could he stand to hear the wailing of his children?
God does love us and Jesus is the proof. These horrors are not of God. This evil is man’s brutality to man and it wounds our Creator at least as much as it wounds us. Still, some days this answer is not enough. Some days I still doubt. On these days I fall back on prayer, on expressing my pain, my questions, on asking Him why. Eventually I always come back to the calming wisdom of Psalm 46. “Be still and know that I am God.” Lord, forgive my disbelief.
Here is a link to the story in our local newspaper.