This doesn’t go said enough, but I’ve really enjoyed being a member of Intake’s Blog Squad. They pretty much let me blog about whatever I want, however, once a week, we usually get these prompts on issues to write about. The prompt this week has been especially tough for me to put my brain around to have a take on.

The ACLU of Indiana filed the suit challenging a new city ordinance that fines child molesters caught near city playgrounds or other gathering spots for children. Calling the ordinance passed in mid-May unconstitutionally vague, the group said it would make law-abiding citizens unwitting violators of the ordinance and hinder their ability to work, vote and worship.

The ordinance prohibits sex offenders convicted of crimes against children from coming within 1,000 feet of playgrounds, recreation centers, swimming pools, sports fields or facilities when children are around. One exception to the ban is if the offender is accompanied by an adult with no history of sex crimes.

This isn’t the take folks will expect, but all this reminds me of is the fact that ministry is tough. By it’s very nature, ministry means not giving up on folks. We can run around claiming to be about loving our neighbors, that’s one thing; but loving your enemies … well, that’s tough. It’s a quick way to take the measure of your faith. Some days, I’m convinced that the fact that God bothers to care about any of us is more mercy than we deserve. As quick as we are to ask “How can we believe in God when He allows these people to do bad things?” I’m forced to ask “How can we continue to believe in humanity?”

Some sins follow you around longer than others. Some sins have greater consequences. Yes, there is forgiveness, but there is also penalty. In a lot of ways, there is a digital scarlet letter, and its accompanying social ostracization, for sex offenders. From them registering to neighbors being alerted when one moves into the neighborhood – yes, it’s tough to get on with your life when you become a social pariah, but it’s harder for the folks who were the victims of sexual predators.

The recidivism rate is high. The stakes–when it comes to sexual offenders and predators–is also high. We, as a society, are committed to not taking chances with our kids. Most of me wants to call down imprecatory prayers on the offenders, but a part of me has to allow for the fact that people do repent and people do change.

This even touches how we do church. For one thing, when I look back on the story of the church, we have our own sins: demeaning women, racism, anti-intellectualism, financial scandals, and Lord knows, more than our share of sexual scandals. We’re a lot less likely to repeat our mistakes if we own up to them. And if someone, or a society, holds us accountable. At the same time, church is a place for “sinners,” not all of whom have repented. So, would I “allow” a sex offender into the church? Of course. Would I know where that person was at all times (and for that matter, would everyone know about his past sins so that they could be aware of the situation)? Of course.

Sorry, I’m not a big believer in victimology to begin with and I’m certainly not going to turn abusers into a victimized group. They have every right to try and move past their transgressions and live their lives. Just don’t expect me to feel too bad for them. I’m not there yet. I want to know where they are and how close they are to my kids.

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