“The Scarlet Letter,” the 1850s novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is about a woman named Hester who is shunned by her community because of her sin of adultery, which results in the birth of a child. She is forced to wear a scarlet-colored letter “A” as a badge of shame.
How far have we come?
Don’t get me wrong, I consider sexual offense a serious crime; one that destroys lives and makes victims out of society’s most vulnerable.
But, the recent reaction of the majority of campus to the removal of a well-known sex offender harkened back to 17th-century Puritan Bostonians.
As petty as it is, I saw several statuses refering to “Scary Jerry” and others joking of how they’ll keep their rape whistle close at hand. When I went to class the following day, the halls and lounges were no better.
I will admit, at first I joined in. The laughter and joking relieved the fear and tension that the sex offender’s presence created. But then it kept getting worse.
It got me to thinking about how we are treating our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with sexual sin.
For the most part, we can’t talk about sex. This is in part because we are Christians and the matter is usually kept under the rug. I also believe that being in the Midwest adds to the shame that comes with that particular sin.
Despite all the hush-hush, Christians struggle just as much as anyone else. Seventy percent of adults admit to viewing pornography each month. One half of all evangelical pastors admit to viewing pornography within the past year (Christianity Today Survey, 2000). Thirty-seven percent of pastors admitted to a “pornography addiction” in a 2001 Christianity Today Survey.
Some of you may say that pornography is a victimless crime, while sexual abuse or harassment obviously has a clear victim. But, I would outright disagree with you.
Sin hurts the offender as much as the victim, not to mention the men and women whose bodies are taken advantage of and demeaned for profit by the porn industry.
If the isolation, ridicule and self-righteous pitter-patter that has happened to Mr. Hillegas would happen to 50 percent of the church, would anything change?
If you were considered beyond hope and compassion, would you be able to see Jesus’ love through your persecutors?
I may be wishing for daisies in November, but I expect Christians to show compassion and give sex offenders a second chance because so many of us have been given a second chance by the love and healing of Jesus Christ.