Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Dr. Larry Nassar hurts our cause

We hear the news that Dr. Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life in prison, and we breathe a sigh of gratitude. Once a world-renowned sports physician, the nasty little pervert---it turns out---has been abusing young women for decades. Perhaps hundreds of them. Especially for those of us who are parents of daughters, the sentiment is sure to be, “Throw away the key!”

Also in the news is the story of Louise and David Turpin. These mean-spirited parents abused, starved and tortured all 13 kids in their home for years. They’ll never see freedom again, either. Especially for those of us with kids and grandkids, our sentiment may very well be, “Throw away the key!”

But here’s the rub.

Some prison employees will then contend that nothing is too cruel for these inmates. Beaten, tortured and abused by fellow inmates? So what…look the other way! Necessary to provide adequate medical and dental care, especially in time of pain or crisis? Hell, no…they didn’t care about others, why should we? Tolerable, edible food? Why? The needs of others was never any concern of theirs.

That train of thought also permeates our society, and sometimes even our churches. It may be subtle, but I and my team see and hear it.

But, we have no choice, really. We must take the high road, and avoid stooping to the level of Dr. Nassar and the Turpins. Simply put: Incarceration is the punishment, and we may not add to it! Something that’s actually guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Says Academic Commentator Juan Cole: We know what the Founding Fathers believed. They believed in universal rights. And they believed in basic principles of human dignity. Above all, they did not think the government had the prerogative of behaving as it pleased. It doesn’t have the prerogative to torture.

In the Bible we have the example of a man named Saul who did his best to stamp out Christianity. Beatings, stonings, whatever it took. One would think he deserved whatever kind of cruel and unusual punishment that might be inflicted in those days. Instead, he had a life-changing experience. The Apostle Paul became an avid missionary, and prolific author of New Testament books.

Modern scholars don’t seem to think that St Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, but following his early days as an evil torturer, and his latter days as an embattled and often imprisoned itinerant preacher, you can bet that he resonated with these words from Chapter 13: …remember those in prison as if you were together with them.

God’s Word; the U.S. Constitution: We have no choice.

1 comment:

Carl J. Fielstra, J.D. said...

The Michigan prurient sports doctor and the California parents who tortured and abused their 13-children are now the subjects of the news bites I hear on a daily basis. Public outrage against these people is palpable at all levels while the legal system musters its resources to punish these brutish offenders.

Seaching for words to assuage the 100-plus abused young women and their parents who were carefully watching, the Michigan Judge went well off script with her ad hominem: “I am signing your death certificate.” It was perhaps the most vengeful comment she could put on the record in a State that has no death penalty provision.

I am one of the outraged with little to no sympathy for child abusers, Nonethelss, I am wary when punishments are handed down while outrage is in full crescendo. And, while severe penalties are certainly appropriate, a venomous uproar that surrounds those found guilty will follow them throughout their lockup. It is reasonable to believe other inmates and prison guards may even feel entitled to add their own “prison justice” to whatever punishments were imposed in the courtroom.

I imagine many observers will celebrate when they learn post-sentencing prison justice has claimed to life of the perpetrator. I can also imagine “they finally got what was coming to them” will be heard when news of an abuser’s murder is made public.

At some point I expect to hear the shamed Michigan sports doctor is dead, and that his death was at the hands of other inmates. And I too may feel a sense of “justice served” when the doctor’s death is reported. Yet, I am concerned about that part of my fallen nature. I worry there is what one Christian author calls “ungrace” deep within me, and that a critical phrase in Jesus’ model prayer, namely “forgive me as I have forgiven” will deny a measure of the unrestrained grace I pray God will use in weighing my earthly sojourn.