Recently the media has been hammering home a particularly crude form of propaganda regarding what they and law enforcement have come to refer to as “sex offenders”. The typical mode is to feature a lawyer who is representing a defendant from a particularly ugly accusation. This lawyer is then pitted against a team of law enforcement, right wing politicos and a particularly abrasive and belligerent district attorney.
The announcer will pretend to be neutral, but go out of his way to undermine the lone defender. The intention is to use cracks, potshots and logical fallacy in an attempt to confuse the audience. Then end up with the sanctimonious proclamation by the DA that, “these kinds of offenders can’t be rehabilitated.”
This ongoing move is only one part of a terrifying trend in American jurist imprudence and in so called conservative values. Marking the sex offender with GPS tracking devices, state registries, automatic notification of neighbors and coworkers has been a huge step toward the sort of excesses that were carried out in Nazi Germany and in the USSR. People who have owned a house in a particular place for many years are now forced to sell and move in order to find a place that isn’t within a certain distance of a school.
For a single mistake, however egregious, this is tantamount to cruel and unwarranted, unusual punishment. Shall we tag every convict? Perhaps we should tag governors who have settled out of court for fondling costars. Perhaps we should tag presidents who have sex with interns less than half their age or sexually assault campaign staff and senators who send homosexual cybersex emails to underage pages.
Would law makers and law enforcement be so ready to take such a draconian approach if all sex offenses were similarly treated? How about tagging cops who commit adultery, and DAs who visit prostitutes? How about tagging legislators who commit sodomy, there would be some quick backpedaling then.
The basic premise of this movement is the idea that there can be no rehabilitation for sex offenders. This sentiment couldn’t be more erroneous or lacking is simple human compassion. It is fueled by nothing less than a desire for vengeance. Vengeance is illegal under American Legal tradition and these laws are certainly unconstitutional.
But who is the F. Lee Bailey who will stand up and defend the rights of these admittedly repugnant offenses? Because that is the way the propaganda paints this issue. It’s not about people who for whatever motive have committed a heinous and repugnant crime. It’s not about people who have deprived a family of loved ones or who have damaged a loved one in a life altering way. It’s about criminals or, in some cases, falsely accused innocents, who are being seen as the crime itself rather than human beings.
This rush to perverted justice and dysfunctional thinking is not newly born with sex offenses in America. Twenty-five years ago the great bugaboo that law enforcement used to justify wicked infringement on civil rights and oppression of the people was drug addiction. Millions were imprisoned and innocent lives were sacrificed when whole families were regularly deprived of house and home because one individual was dealing drugs. People were imprisoned where they were raped and fed even more drugs, only to be released with no treatment and soon found drugs on the street. This was called justice.
Someone once said, when the only tool you have is a hammer you see every problem as a nail. This certainly applies to psychology or sorcery. When the only tool you have is a couch, then you see every problem as a coma. Applied to the church, when the only tool you have is healing, you see every problem as a wound. There is no more effective paradigm.
Sin is a wound in the soul or psyche of man. Drug abuse and sexual abuse are two of the main issues for which Christianity, and Orthodox Judaism have no lack of treatment. God encourages free and open affection and uninhibited sexuality. Plentiful sex is such a priority for God that even in the cursed state of sin, he commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The vast amount of Biblical treatment of sex is not intended to inhibit human sexuality but limit the paradigms of interpersonal relations in a way that is healthy and conducive to good social order and the protection of innocents.
Similarly the treatment of the soul or psyche is not ignored by the Bible. While philosophies such as psychology are censured and the use of drugs or meditative techniques are strictly forbidden to the believer, the bible in toto is primarily a tractate on how to achieve good relations with God and mental or soul (pyschic) related healing.
The old testament law proscribed death for the psychologist with his manipulative brainwashing and vain philosophies, the psychiatrist with his pharmacopoea, or the witch who proscribes various worts and herbs. Under the new covenant we are instructed to reach out to these deceived and destructive sorcerers and lead them to salvation and rehabilitation. Similarly we are to heal the victim of sorcery, whether that is a valium addict, or the person who has lost the ability to function without brain altering ‘antidepressant’ potions, or the marijuana user who mellows out his stresses.
Drug abuse is one branch of sorcery, which is generally the alteration of perception and manipulation of consciousness or brain washing through mesmerism, hypnosis, pharmaceuticals, neurolinguistic programming, self-hypnosis and/or redactive psychotherapy. Because of this it is considered rebellion against God and is very prominently censured in both the old and new testaments. God is very clear that magical thinking and new age techniques are neither new nor tolerable. But the Bible never leaves one with condemnation and no means to effect a correction.
Because the prison system had no answers and psychology is impotent to provide any relief or aid to a suffering mind, these people were deemed incorrigible. The grand pontification by many DAs was that ‘these people’ could not be rehabilitated. When criminal justice departments finally gave up and got out of the way, the church went to work. Because, the answer to every problem is Jesus.
Christ centered drug programs such as Teen Challenge have a less than 10% recidivism rate. I’m not sure of the statistics with regard to Chabad houses, but my suspicion is that they are similar. God is our healer and our counselor. God is the savior. When a drug user who is “not rehabilitable” genuinely encounters God there is a genuine change in the very make up of his personality. He will change in such a way that he is no longer an addict.
I’m not talking about some anomalous or anonymous higher power (which by the way has some effectiveness but a much higher recidivism rate). I’m not talking about numbered steps that magically redeem you, and have to be repeated incessantly because you are forever bound to the addiction and only get by day by day and by the skin of your teeth.
I’m talking about real and permanent healing. If you break your arm and it heals, it will be forever different but it will be whole and reliable, so long as you do not break it again. Choosing not to fall from great height is usually sufficient to avoid repeating the injury. God’s healing for the addict is similarly effective. He takes the sin nature and the human spirit and replaces it with his own. The life force within you becomes that of God. You become converted into a new thing. Where you were born with a carnal spirit, you have a new life and become a new creation or a new species without the same foibles and faults. Of course perfection is a goal and not achieved over night. But the potential is now there where it was impossible in your prior state.
This is proven for drug addicts and it is proven for all kinds of sex offenders. To God there is no difference between the child molester, the prostitute, the incestuous, the pedophile, the rapist, the adulterer, the homosexual, and those who have sex prior to marriage. All are guilty of a capital crime and all these sex offenders are repugnant to God.
But God also grants mercy and forgiveness. He rehabilitates prostitutes, like Mary Magdalene who was the first to greet Jesus in the resurrection, or Rahab who became Joshua’s wife and a mother in the line of Jewish Kings. He rehabilitates Adulteresses like the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery from Mathew’s Gospel and King David, who was not only a sex offender but a murderer. He rehabilitates the incestuous like Abraham, and Lot.
Mary the mother of Jesus was innocent, but she was presumed to have been guilty of fornication (which is premarital sex). If sex offenders had been treated the way America now treats them, she would have been branded with a scarlet letter like Hawthorne’s character or worse stoned to death. Sexual depravity is rehabilitable. Jesus provides this healing, for by his lacerations at the hand of a Roman and on the accusation of the High Priest of Israel, we are healed.
As we enter this Passover season, let’s remember that by the blood of the Passover lamb, we are recognized as the children of God, and protected from the justified touch of the Angel of Death. Jesus is both our Great High Priest and also our Supreme paschal lamb. Let us remember his seder and the salvation in his blood. And in doing so let us remember that a Judao-Christian nation must be merciful as well as just, or God will begin a winnowing.