The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
Well, it happened again. The police swooped in and arrested a professor at one of the top Christian universities and he now awaits his trial on charges of the possession of child pornography.
As many times as these stories like this come along, each new episode brings a fresh shock to the conscience. How could anybody keep images of a child being violated on their hard drive? Where have we come, as a society and as a people, where the weakest among us function as subjects for our domination? How can we find justice for children whose pictures have been taken and distributed all over the Internet? As Chicago State Attorney Robert Berlin said today, “The sad truth is that thousands of images depicting child pornography are distributed over the Internet every day. Each one of these photos is a victim of child pornography.”
How can we find justice for the victims of our own decay?
And I do say “our own” decay, because it is. Do you remember what the Apostle James wrote? “For whoever keeps the whole law but falls in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Not a single one of us can avoid culpability for the worst of crimes. That is the curse we are born into. We all share in the guilt of hating God and hating neighbor. If we make it any more complicated than that, then we do not need Jesus, we just need a judge that works on a sliding scale. We are all a part of this.
What do we do with that? How do we share in the blame while not perpetuating shame? How do we empathize with the most violent of deviants while defending their victims? This, it seems, is a bit more complicated.
I wish I had answers to throw down right now, but I can only think of one thing Jesus said and one thing the Apostle John said about Jesus. The first is frightening and the second is hopeful.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and be drowned into the depth of the sea.
Yikes- especially if James was right and we share each other’s guilt. But Jesus also said:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our guilt is real, but his forgiveness is real, too.
What do we do in the meantime, though? I mean, forgiveness is there but how do we defend the defenseless, because this is our call as the people of God, if Jesus was right. Justice must be done. As the people of God, we submit to the laws of our land, and especially those that are set up to protect our children. We are not called to overlook injustice, to turn our heads and provide uber-spiritual answers at the expense of holding criminals responsible for their actions. But as the body of Christ, we seek for justice with tears, with confession and with broken-hearts.
We are all a part of this. The surprise is that God is for us. He pursues us with his provision of true justice. Our most despicable charges hang on him as he cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
And so he purchased a world full of convicts like us.