Friday, January 26, 2018

Wicked and Redemption

That could be (but isn’t) a photo of my daughter during her gymnastic studies. She was very good on a balance beam as well as the other competitive areas. She has a large number of ribbons, medals, and trophies as a result. She was never Olympic material.  Today I am very grateful for that.

Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and the mother of three, was also an Olympic gymnast in 2000. It has taken seventeen years for her to complete her battle to be heard and stop the decades long abuse she and others received from adults who were tasked with their protection.

She was on television Wednesday morning – poised and professional, but not as a gymnast. She was an innocent and a protector. I thought of those who accused Job, and this girl who accused one man and those who protected him. Job was proven innocent (read the book for specifics). This young lawyer helped prove a man guilty. In his guilt, he wrote the judge and described what he was going through:
'I was a good doctor, because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over,' wrote Nassar.
'The media convinced them that it was wrong and bad. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.'
'Now [the victims] are seeking the media attention and financial reward.'
How Rachael responded to her abuser, we can read her description of redemption:
In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.  …
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well

And, we find an explanation how to determine when we’ve gone astray:
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.
When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love.
Job knew the straight line – that strait way and narrow gate – between him and God. Rachael Denhollander knows it, too. She quoted C. S. Lewis:
My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?
So – to close the discussion from yesterday (Job, thousands of years ago) and the courtroom drama of today, I want to confirm that I believe wicked are punished – in God’s timing, not ours. Confirm that we speak out against cruelty and injustice – with definitions that have withstood the tests of time and are not of our own feelings of what could be. How is our straight line defined? Against what do we compare? What Christians use does tell us that eventually - in God's time - the wicked are punished.

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