All are welcome?

March 14, 2007 at 6:25 pm (God thoughts, Politics thoughts)

I read this poignant article in the Union Tribune describing the struggles that a Carlsbad church is having with the membership of a convicted child molester. Most of my readers are solid members of local congregations so I suppose we all would (should?) have a different take on this subject then the secular world would have. Nevertheless I am tremendously interested in how you personally would feel about a convicted sex offender attending your congregation. I wonder if the opinions will differ from those who have children and those who don’t. If your initial response differs from your conclusion I would be interested to hear that as well.

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37 Comments

  1. Matt S said,

    Wow! Talk about a tough situation.

    My decision would hinge on the ability to determine where this man’s mind and spirit are NOW. We would all agree that God is able to deliver anyone from even the most vile of vices. Yes, this man at one time was one sick, disturbed individual, but is he the same person today?

    Obviously this is easier said than done and only God can know for sure what is truly in one’s heart, but there are ways of trying to understand an indivual’s current state.

    A person who is still involved or still struggles with this sin would not be allowed to attend.

    If it is deemed that he is a different person today than he was earlier in his life, then I would still excersise extreme caution in allowing him to attend church.

    He would have to submit himself to regular Biblical counseling with the pastoral staff. He would not be allowed to be on the premises alone and he would have to have a shadow follow him at all times while at church.

    It would be my hope that with these measures in place (and there may be others I am missing) he would be able to attend church without incident and through this find saving grace and complete deliverance through Christ.

  2. itsasecret2u said,

    Wow.

    This is hairy. As a parent I say, “GET AWAY FROM MY CHILDREN! GET AWAY FROM MY CHURCH!” But it’s not really “my” church, is it? It’s Christ’s.

    The thing about illegal sins is that, if you get caught, it suddenly becomes public knowledge what (some of) your sins are. What if all of us were subjected to the same standard? Of course, I don’t think this would be an entirely bad thing, as it would probably cause some people to be a lot more careful about the lives that they lead. Anyway, though, I have to think… would I want it to be completely public knowledge what all the sins of my past were? If they were public knowledge, how would be feel about me being a part of the congregation? Or working with their high schoolers? I can say, “I’ve changed! I have been reformed!” but they can’t really know what is going on inside of my heart. They’d have to take my word for it.

    Just as I suppose we would have to take a convicted child-molester’s word that he (or she, I guess) had changed, through Christ, and become new.

    But don’t let them in the nursery or children’s church. Oy.

  3. danielbalc said,

    Matt, you may not realize it but when we describe people like you did here

    Yes, this man at one time was one sick, disturbed individual

    You are giving them an excuse for their actions. “mental Illness” has taken the blame for what used to be called, “corrupt”, “immoral”, “evil” and “sinful”. Reminds me of this story of a woman who is blaming her “mental illness” on her impulsive (sinful) spending.

    Ultimately these people think they are “decent” with just “weird fetishes” like these PERVERTS

  4. Matt S said,

    I understand what you are saying, I was trying to distinguish between this man’s sin and the sins we all commit. I would like to think that his sins (child molestation) are far worse than our sins, but are they? Are some sins more “sinful” than others?

    I like secret’s point about this person’s sin being exposed, well if all our sins were public knowledge would any of us feel comfortable with anyone else in a church setting?

  5. Echo_ohcE said,

    Are you talking about church membership, or church attendance?

    You can’t stop anyone from attending the church, but only from becoming members. It’s a public place.

    The elders examine a candidate for membership. They make the decision.

    However, all that being said, were I the pastor, and a former child molestor began attending the church, I recognize that it would be very difficult. I wouldn’t even want my wife around him, and certainly not kids. It’s a difficult thing.

    But we have no choice but to put up with it. Even though I have no doubt that people would leave the church over it.

    We can always pray, that God would be merciful.

    I mean, if the guy is genuine, then the people that leave, while understandable, are in the wrong. If the guy is not genuine, hopefully he won’t remain around very long.

    I frankly am of the opinion that such people should be put to death or put in jail for the rest of their lives. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they can be Christians. I do. But they don’t belong in society.

    However, the CHURCH doesn’t have the right to make those kinds of decisions.

    E

  6. 5najeras said,

    All right! When did you post this? How come nobody told me? I just got finished posting mine and came and started looking around at everyone else’s blogs. And lo and behold, you have the same post as me!!! OOPS! I’m not a post stealer I swear. Anyway, my opinion was to reffer him to the Men’s Rachel House services. He would be in the company of other men (no children) and they are all going through tough situations. I wouldn’t stay at a church with a (known) pedophile.

  7. Alex said,

    This story is definitely interesting to say the least.
    I have 3 key points to note:

    #1 He did not have to (by law) notify the church leader of his past, but he did anyways.

    #2 If I was a Pastor I would always prefer to know who the Pedophile is so that I can monitor him closely. It’s scary to think about it but there could be a Pedophile amongst us right now and we have no clue.

    #3 His church in San Luis Obispo closely monitored him and he never, as far as we know, balked at anything the Pastor demanded from him (ie. escorting him, checking the bathroom for kids before he uses it).

    I believe that the Pastor needs to stand by this man and as long as he abides by the strict monitoring rules, he should be able to worship there. It’s tough, I have kid’s as well but as far as being a christian we must follow the Bible. Him being closely monitored is just part of the consequences of his particular sin and if he has a problem with the spiritual authority he may not fellowship there. The Pastor may lose his whole congregation over this but it’s the right thing to do. Just my opinion.

  8. itsasecret2u said,

    Something that scares me a little about this guy is the LONG history he has… He has convictions in the 80’s and the late 90’s. How long, I wonder, would it take for a person’s thinking to be changed when their pathology is clearly so deeply entrenched?

    Did your mindset change the moment you accepted Christ? I think it was a much longer process for me… (that still continues, though in a different way…)

  9. Matt S said,

    I would really like to know from some of the Bible scholars that troll these blogs if the Bible has any verses that would lead us to believe that there are “degrees of sin” (i.e. some sins are worse than others) or does God look on all sins the same?

  10. Alex said,

    It’sasecret2u,

    Remeber that there is no way a pedophile can change his ways on his own. Without a pure intervention from God this man cannot change. Knowing this fact, if God changes someones heart he does just that, he changes their heart. Does this mean he does not have to suffer consequences, of course not. Even the world considers this man dangerous and very likely to strike again( ie. requirement to register as a sex offender) we as christians must never act naive about such a dangerous issue and like I said before, “he must never ever be left unmonitored”.

  11. AS said,

    He might have found a good cover. He just acts like a “new” man and now he has trust and ample opportunities to strike again. If he’s a Christian and allowed to be a member of the church how can they stop him from wanting to be a nursery worker? As a member of the congregation, I would ask the pastor to have him banned. If they failed to do so, I’d leave.

  12. itsasecret2u said,

    Alex,

    I guess I wonder about how long it will take God to change his thinking (assuming he’s genuine). He got out of a state hospital last year… He had a conviction in the early 80’s and the late 90’s. Will being around children in a church environment, like 5 suggested in her post on this topic, be tempting for him? Maybe a men-only service would be better for him…?

    I fully recognize that God could instantly and totally change anyone he wants to change… But is this the way He usually works?

  13. danielbalc said,

    I know of a man who was a “sex offender” who moved to an area and began attending a certain church. He did not inform the pastor or any church members for fear of exactly these types of negative responses. Well one of the members of the church found him on “the list” and demanded that he be barred from fellowship. His pastor regrettably had no other choice but to do so. His justification was that the man falsely presented himself and he should have been forthcoming regarding his criminal past. Ironically this story shows the same results from being upfront. It’s a lose lose situation for someone with this particular crime.

    Nothing he can do.

    The biggest problem with attending an “all male” service like what 5n is describing is that it makes them feel like an even bigger outsider and even more reluctant to become a normal member of society. Repeatedly telling someone they are a freak or “sick” is part of our culture does to keep people being freaks and sickos. You are this way and nothing you can do will ever change it. This kind of treatment sure didn’t helped the perverts called “homosexuals”. Now it’s an “orientation”, something you are “born with”, not something that can be changed. Not sin. Not perversion. Not something requiring rehabilitation. Nope. You are who you are. If you are a child molester, (like if you are a queer) you will always be that way. It’s only a matter of time before NAMBLA’s agenda is bought by the society. Lose, lose.

  14. danielbalc said,

    It’s NOT a sickness. It’s sin. Sicknesses can usually be healed with medicine. Sin can’t. Sicknesses affect your physical body. Sin affects your whole person.

    We would have to deal with each situation on a case by case basis. Sadly the government mandated/funded rehab centers treat it like a sickness instead of a sin issue. So in general everyone who goes through those programs is going to be a failure.

  15. itsasecret2u said,

    So what’s your opinion, Daniel? What should be done?

    I don’t think the all-male thing is a bad idea, necessarily, because he is most-likely still very vulnerable to temptation. That being the case, I don’t think any parent would want this man around their children. Perhaps when there is a longer history of #1, him being in church (7 months isn’t very long) and #2, no arrests/convictions/recent releases from state hospitals, it would be more appropriate for him to be integrated into a regular congregation, should he choose to do so.

    Like 5n said… Why would a person trying to deal with the sin of alcoholism go hang out in a bar? Likewise, should a “recovering pedophile” be around children until he is spiritually more able to deal with temptation? Lucky for the alcoholics, there isn’t alcohol at church. Unless you go to Echo’s church…

    Just kidding, Echo! 🙂

  16. 5najeras said,

    Ok, maybe “sickness” isn’t the right term. But I think that this particular sin is different than say stealing, or something. There is no way to get rid of the images in their heads. (Except maybe the Hatian from Heroes. That would be cool. Oh wait, you don’t have cable and are therefore not aware of the best show EVER) Anyway, I don’t think it’s the kind of sin that you just repent from and vow never to do again. There just seems something different about it. Like it will always be there. Like they are permanently bent towards lusting after children. They can make a choice not to act on their desires but I believe that the desire for children will not go away. It’s like a tatoo in their brains. That’s just what I have observed from the many shows about that kind of stuff. (Again, no TV. Shame on you :))

  17. Alex said,

    It’sasecret2u,

    Please don’t get me wrong here, this is a very difficult situation. I just believe if LWC was faced with this issue we would really have to seek out God’s Word. God’s Word is the ultimate authority. I’m intrigued at the story of the woman caught in adultery.

    John 8: 4-11

    4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[a] in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded[b] us that such should be stoned.[c] But what do You say?”[d] 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.[e]
    7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[f] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,[g] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[h] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[i] Has no one condemned you?”
    11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
    And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[j] sin no more.”

    I’m not comparing Adultery to Pedophilia but there is a principle here. Applying it seems to be the difficult part, at least in my mind.

  18. Alex said,

    5n,
    You said “Why would a person trying to deal with the sin of alcoholism go hang out in a bar?”

    Alex says,
    The last time I checked the Gospel was not being preached at the local Pub. Big difference.

  19. Franky said,

    Alex,

    I believe that you make a good point, but Jesus is able to know the heart of an individual. The best we can do is to pray for discernment. While I believe that many rules are set up for this man, how hard is it for rules to be broken? One slip could spell disaster.

  20. Alex said,

    Franky, you said ” While I believe that many rules are set up for this man, how hard is it for rules to be broken? One slip could spell disaster.”

    Hence the need to “never let him out of your sight” at least while he is at church where the church leadership is responsible.

    I have an idea, what about creating a scarlet letter for him to wear not only at church but in public as well. Nevermind, it’s not really biblical.

  21. 5najeras said,

    Alex,
    you are wrong. I am not. 🙂
    Like I said before. If his desire truly was to be in church and seek after God, then he would not want to put temptations before himself. He would have no problem in attending Rachel House’s men’s services. If he made excuses for not wanting to attend an all adult male service I would question his motives for wanting to attend church.

  22. Matt S said,

    I think if you want to follow the letter of the law (i.e. what the Bible says) you should let this man attend church with supreme supervision, assuming he has completely submitted to authority and is undergoing consistent Biblical counseling.

    However, I think the easier route, and the safer route would be to tell the man he cannot attend church (although how could you really stop him?). This would alleviate alot of stress and keep your congregation intact.

    Is it worth the very real possibility that a significant number of your congregation could leave, in order to let one man stay? I say no.

  23. itsasecret2u said,

    Alex,

    I think that 5n’s point about having access to the church members’ addresses is a good one. Think about a small, family church like ours. You just have to be mildly familiar with the community to figure out where the children in our church would go to school (assuming they are public-schooled). What if, at service, he is watched like a hawk, then misuses such information to victimize yet another child? What about the life-long implications for that victimized child?

    What’s wrong with having him go to an all-male service (where he still hears the Word and is allowed to worship) until he is spiritually more mature, thus more appropriately-equipped to deal with temptation?

  24. danielbalc said,

    Nothing is “wrong” with an all male service until he is spiritually more mature. But when is that? Who is the judge? Wouldn’t it be the pastors prayerful insight and evaluation? Isn’t that what this pastor has done?

  25. Alex said,

    Matt you said,
    “Is it worth the very real possibility that a significant number of your congregation could leave, in order to let one man stay? I say no.”

    I would have to say yes. Are we following majority or the Bible? This may be a great opportunity to “live out” the Word. It’s always one thing to preach the Bible but to live it is another. Again I must reiterate I would rather not deal with this issue all together and the easy thing to do is discourage this man from attending your church but to essentially tell the Pastor of the church “it’s this guy out of here or I’m leaving” just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. What do I know?

  26. danielbalc said,

    BTW this conversation is about YOUR personal opinion. This is one of those weird situations where you aren’t necessarily right or wrong. It’s just to see where you stand. So you all are making GREAT points.

  27. Matt S said,

    Alex,

    Now you sound like John Kerry, Mr. Flipflop!

    Out of one side of your mouth, “Yes, it is worth losing some of your congregation over one man’s attendance.”

    Out of the other side, “I would rather not deal with it, the easy thing to do is to discourage his attendance”

    Well which one is it? Are you for the war or against it? 🙂

    Put yourself in the pastor’s shoes, saying you do not want to deal with it is not an available response. What would you do?

  28. Alex said,

    Matt,

    Easy tiger!! If you read very slowly it says the EASY thing to do would be to dicourage him from coming. That is not the same as the BIBILICAL thing to do. If I was the Pastor I would hope that I would choose the BIBLICAL thing to do as opposed to the EASY thing to do.
    Am I making any sense here? Help me out.

  29. Matt S said,

    Yea I think that is the point. I think you could make a case that the Bible would allow you to tell the man he cannot attend. Verses about the shepard guarding his flock come to mind. But also that the Bible would tell you he should be allowed to attend. verses like the prostitute reference you made.

    All in all I would feel very comfortable and have no problems with guilt or feelings that I am not following the Bible when I tell this man he cannot attend.

  30. Echo_ohcE said,

    I agree with Alex.

    You can exclude someone from membership by excommunication, but you can’t tell them that they cannot attend, they just cease to be a member. I think.

    But anyway, this guy’s hope lies in attending church. If you bar him from church, how’s he ever going to change?

    E

  31. 5najeras said,

    That’s where my answer comes in. I still think it’s the best solution. 🙂

  32. danielbalc said,

    What about giving them their own colony like they used to do with lepers. It could be a self sustaining commune with all of the amenities of normal civilization (churches, walmarts, burger kings) but only inhabited by those who share their “sickness”. If for some reason they simply HAD to go into the real world they could ring a bell shouting, “unclean, unclean!”

  33. itsasecret2u said,

    Actually, Daniel, you’re on to something…

    Except the colony should be made completely of concrete and metal and should have no shopping or dining areas except a small room in which to eat standard-issue meals. And if, for some reason, an inhabitant should come out into the real world, a bell would ring… but it’d be more like a siren, warning everyone that a “sick” person is on the loose.

    Oh, wait…

  34. danielbalc said,

    zero tolerance eh secret?

    sounds like you’d enjoy living in saudi arabia

  35. itsasecret2u said,

    Well, black is my color; but I fear a hejab would mess up my hair a bit too much for my liking.

  36. danielbalc said,

    Black isn’t a color. It’s an attitude.

  37. itsasecret2u said,

    NICE! Wait, so black is my attitude?

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