11.17.2006

Drawing Lines

I listened to a lecture last night in which the lecturer engaged listeners on the importance of Child Protection Policies. It was a good discussion and lecture - I agreed completely on the importance of establishing policies for an organization that maintain the protection of the children they serve. However, the discussion when in an interesting direction.
One of the women in attendance mentioned her work with children ministries at her church. One of the men that has recently began attending her church is a registered sex offender. They have apparently set up very strict boundaries for this man when it comes to the interaction he can have with the congregation and especially the children of the church. He can only use one particular bathroom, sit in one area of the sanctuary, etc. While I agree there needs to be some hesitation in his aggressive involvement with the community I can't help but be a bit disturbed by the boundaries that are being drawn.
Where do we draw the line? How do we bring in grace? redemption? love and forgiveness? When Christ deals with the outcasts and those who have done the "unforgivable" and "unfathomable" sins - he welcomes them as the prodigal son. He treats them no different, extending the same grace we all need because we are all just as depraved.
So, where do we draw the line? Is it more important to keep our kids safe and draw a vivid line of protection policy allowing this man to only use one bathroom and sit banished to one corner of the sanctuary - or do we begin to forgive and extend grace, knowing that we are no better than he is. We are capable of the very same sin.

1 comment:

Voix de Raison said...

I am "that man" in my church. Once my wife and I had decided on a church, we went to the pastor, and explained my situation. He openly asked the questions that, as a pastor, he had to ask. We discussed the root causes of my crime, rehabilitation, and my walk with Christ. We discussed all the things that he needs to know to decide how to handle a sex offender in his church.

While I would never ask to work with children or youth, my pastor has not placed any restrictions on me.

I know that my pastor and some other church elders know about my situation, as well as church members whom we've gotten to know and have told. I think it is important for reintegration for an offender to be accepted in a society. Church is the ideal place for reintigration and forgiveness to occur because of our christian beliefs. In Christ's eyes all sin separates us from God. The ground at the foot of the cross is level.

Having the oversight and supervision of my pastor and church elders provides accountability, yet does not exclude me from that society. Should I ever have "waverings" (I don't) I know that there are people to whom I am accountable.

The important thing is the individual evaluation of a sex offender, as a person, as a christian (if that is the case), and where he stands in his treatment and rehabilitive efforts, so one can decide what if any type of restrictions should be placed on an ex-offender.

Prudence declares "I" be watched, grace declares I be forgiven in the same way as other sinners are forgiven.

Please see my blog for more information, statistics, articles, and other information about sex offender recidivism and other topics affecting sex offenders.

PS: I'd love to blog about this some time in more depth (!) on my site, if that is OK with you.