Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sex Offenders in Church

Apparently there's been some discussion on whether or not sex offenders should be allowed free access to churches, rating an article in Time, and even discussion in court cases-- but I heard about it in an article at Jezebel.

My reaction to this is basically to wonder how there is even a question here.  Yes, I'm very much against sexual assault, and don't think someone who assaults someone else should just be able to go back to their life as if nothing happened-- but not all sex offenses are actually harmful (public urination, statutory rape committed by a teen to hir close-in-age significant other), and I believe in a deterrence and rehabilitation model of justice, rather than a retributive one.

As both a Christian and a feminist, the double bias is going to show.  But I believe that churches should not only be for those upright citizens who are paragons of virtue.  You shouldn't have to be as "good" of a person as the minister to take part in worship, and you certainly don't have to be blameless to ask God to "lead you not into temptation".   Granted, a large part of church is the community, and adults do have a lot of interaction with children in a church setting-- but unless that adult is a youth group leader or Sunday school teacher, chances are they don't have much one-on-one time with kids.

Note, I also do not think that sex offenders should be ministers (exception-- teenage mutually consenting statutory rape and teenage/college public urination type activities, as long as, you know, that sort of disregard for public spaces didn't stay with them as an adult.).  Ministers should be devoted to living a Godly life in a way that really can't be expected of ordinary people-- that's why it's a calling, instead of just a profession.  That's why they're ministers, instead of parishioners.

But, a regular member of the congregation?  Someone who comes to church to worship in community and who tries to better hirself?  Well, I totally and completely think that sex offenders ought to be allowed to do that, if they're out of jail and living in general society.  And I think that disallowing them, even out of concern for children, is rather unChristian.  Jesus wouldn't shun someone for the crimes ze's committed, and leading people out of lives of sin is supposed to be one of the main functions of churches.

Ugh.  This ties into my problem in general with many modern churches-- the expectation that everyone coming is there to celebrate their own comparatively sinful lives, rather than to unite as sinners who are trying to be good to others and help lift others up.  Part of being Christian is extending love and help to the unloveable, after all.


Jilly said...

Your last sentence says it all really. I've never understood how a church can turn away sinners. It seems some churches only want perfect people.

Racer X said...

Interesting blog. I am especially interested in your discussion of sex and erotic desire from a Christian perspective.

Quercki said...

I suspect that the reluctance to allow sex offenders in church comes from having to actually realize that not everyone you meet there is "safe" and can be trusted.

I'm not saying that the sex offender will re-offend. I'm referring to the people who betray their positions in churches to molest children.

Love Letters said...

God will never forgive this offenders. make a mistake unknown, will have a chance. But, making errors knowing everything. then god will punish you