The 'Monsters' Among Us: Child Sex Abusers in Our Midst
But how we answer the restoration question is paramount to our theology.
Second, we must extend the gospel to child sex abusers. This is a monumental task. A 2011 Slate report titled, "Are molesters really the most hated people in prison?" answered, simply, "Yes. Convicts who have committed crimes against children, especially sexual abuse, are hated, harassed, and abused." Even Christians instinctively feel that child abusers should "rot in jail" when they imagine a fellow Christian fondling a child or masturbating to such images. So when we begin preaching that such "monsters" are known and loved by Christ, it will horrify the watching world. And even us.
Yet if we let the gospel seep into our imaginations, we have no other choice. "Christ died for the murderer and the thief—did he not also die for the child molester?" asks Struthers. "Or am I going to create categories of people who are no longer able to be saved by the blood of Christ?"
Hear us rightly: Restoring molesters doesn't mean full or automatic inclusion in community life. It certainly means jail time, psychological testing, and an intensive recovery program. It should mean complete barring from children's ministry. But for the gospel-shaped community, it will, by God's grace, also mean holding on to hope that the lives destroyed by the molester—among them his own—will be made new on the Final Day by the loving judgment of Jesus.
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See also today's report on Tom White's death.
Church Law and Tax Report,, a Christianity Today sister publication, will will present a live, free, one-hour webinar on child abuse reporting laws and child protection policies that church leaders should use on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
Previous Christianity Today articles on sex abuse include:
Sex Offenders in the Pew | How churches are ministering to society's most despised. (September 17, 2010)
Don't Shoot the Messenger | What all Christians can learn from the Catholic Church abuse scandal. (May 27, 2010)
Modern-Day Lepers | Churches try to balance grace and accountability toward sex offenders. (December 3, 2009)
Recent CT editorials include:
How Pastors' Ponzis Affect Our Gospel Witness | A rash of pastor-endorsed fraud taints our gospel witness. (April 16, 2012)
The Supreme Court's Religious Freedom Reality Check | A recent unanimous ruling reveals deep commitment to our 'first freedom.' (March 13, 2012)
You Can't Worship Here: Evicting Churches from New York Schools | What will really happen this weekend when churches gather in school buildings for the last time? (February 8, 2012)
Thou Shalt Not Abuse: Reconsidering Spanking | Misuse of biblical teaching on discipline can have deadly consequences. (January 16, 2012)
No Taxpayer Is An Island | Elizabeth Warren is wrong, and right, about the role of government. (December 6, 2011)
Fighting Famine Isn't Enough | Some 2,000 Somalis die of starvation daily. Drought isn't the reason. (November 4, 2011)