I was watching ABC News tonight, a rarity for me. They had an article about a tough decision that Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, California, is about to make. A registered sex offender has asked to be accepted for membership in the church.
In keeping with typical ABC viewpoint, in the linked video, except for the minister, Madison Shockley, ABC interviews those who have great reservations about accepting this man into the church. One man was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and a woman was expressing reservaitons about having her child in close proximity to a sex offender. Both viewpoints, from a modern human point of view, seem valid. And we can certainly empathize with these folks.
Practical matters: (1) A church that advertises itself as “An Open and Affirming, and Inclusive Church with a Progressive Theology and a Commitment to Social Justice” should accept anyone into their body. And (2) the church can institue policies such that convicted sex offenders never have unsupervised contact with potential victims.
Spiritual matters: (1) The global Church is composed of sinners who have turned their lives over to Jesus Christ. How can a local branch of this church restrict it’s membership? (2) God, through Jesus Christ, is in the business of changing lives. Therefore, sex offenders can be changed. Folks who’ve been abused can be comforted. (3) God commands us to forgive those who sin against us (or others). That doesn’t mean to put one’s self in harms way, but to give up the right to hold the sin against the sinner..
I pray that Pilgrim votes to accept the sex offender. I pray they will be an example of who Christ followers are for people who are far away from God.
© 2007 – 2008, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.
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