The first case is especially harrowing. Stuff reports:
A Christian father made his young daughter pray for forgiveness with him after he had sexually abused her.
The man was a church official at the time, prompting Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber to highlight the hypocrisy of his conduct - working with Christian youth while abusing his daughter from the age of five to 11 years, Christchurch Court News website reported.
Sexual abuse is abhorrent to us, and can never by justified. But spiritual abuse is a cancer on the Christian church, and this case is a prime example of that. That such an abuse of trust was committed by a parent on a child is bad enough; that the abuse was perpetrated by a Christian makes it even worse in our opinion. We can understand why the daughter has lost her faith in the church and in God; we hope that the latter may be recovered in time.
The second case is just bizarre - check this out:
A child-sex offender who believes giving a DNA sample would condemn him to eternal damnation wants an exemption from inclusion on a national police database.
David Hugh Chord, 37, appeared before Judge Peter Butler in Wellington District Court on Friday for a hearing to decide whether he will have to provide a DNA sample for a national database.
Chord is a Christian and believed that, if his DNA was taken, he would be given the "mark of the Beast" and damned for eternity, his lawyer, Michael Bott, said.
Chord is serving two years and nine months in prison after pleading guilty to six counts of an indecent act on a young person, and one of an indecent act on a child last year.
Mr Bott argued Chord's religious belief should exempt him from having to provide a sample for the database. "Based upon his interpretation of the Book of Revelation, that means he's effectively damned and cut off from fellowship with his God."
Now, we're the first to admit that we haven't studied the Book of Revelation in as much detail as we've read other parts of the Bible. But in the times when we have read that particular book, we've never seen any mention of DNA. We reckon that David Chord is flying a very large kite here in his attempt to avoid having to furnish a DNA sample. We wonder if it has anything to do with him being represented by Michael Bott from the Council for Civil Liberties.
So back to our question; what would Jesus do in these situations? We believe that he would grieve WITH those who have been abused, and that he would grieve FOR those who have committed the abuse. We freely admit that the outworking of God's abundant grace is a mystery to us, even though we receive it on a daily basis; it is so alien to everything that life throws at us each and every day.
There's another element to this too. Is it any wonder that people are turning away from the Christian church in increasing numbers? The church is not immune to hypocrisy (nor are we, as we are likely to be reminded by a couple of commenters!), but these types of cases are at the extreme end of the scale. How does the church recover from the damage caused by a few, which would be abhored by the many?
These are serious questions, and we hope that they may stimulate some serious debate. We'd prefer that this thread doesn't become just another opportunity to bash Christianity and Christians, and we will be watching comments. The overwhelming majority of followers of Jesus are just ordinary people who face the same challengers as anyone else.