Hugh Halter
Sex Offenders and Loss of Judgment
by Hugh Halter on February 24th, 2014

I used to work in a prison for sex offenders in Seattle.

During my time there, I met a kid named Jason who would crap in his tube socks and then go all Bruce Lee on me swinging them at me like nunchucks! And one time he managed to connect one right in my mouth. Suffice to say, I didn’t really like Jason and after I heard about the brutal crimes he had committed, all before the age of 16, I actually thought he deserved to face grave judgment. I even thought the world would be better without him in it.

But then, one day I pulled his file and began to read… “Jason was sodomized at the age of 3 to the age of 11 by a male family member. He was locked in a closet for months at a time and left in the dark”…and on and on and on. As I read his file, I began to weep because I now had the context for the crimes and sins he committed. It didn’t mean they were any less grave, but I at least didn’t judge him anymore.

What’s amazing to me is that when I think about the life of Christ, people like Jason were the ones he desperately loved and hung around with. Jesus was consistently known as a friend of “sinners“, and some of these people he was known to associate with were world class sinners. They were local pole dancers and Bernie Madoff goons that stripped people off what little cash they already had; some were religious leaders that exploited people for their own ends; some murderers, others lazy gluttons. Jesus’ claim to fame because of the amount of time he spent with people like this was that he himself “was a drunkard and a glutton“.

When I try to encourage Christians to live more like Christ, it just seems that his ability to overlook sin is a point of struggle for them. In fact, it seems that many Christians think God put them on the earth to point out people’s sin. I guess for all of us, regardless of our faith or lack of faith, its always hard to love the unloveable, and even harder to love ourselves since we know in our core we’re not that different from the scoundrels we condemn.

So the question is how do we overlook a person’s struggles and sin?

How did Christ do it?
Here’s a few thoughts to consider:

First, Jesus could share a meal with a sinner because he knew they had no ability to fix themselves (even this is taught in every 12-Step class you will encounter). Even as he hung on a cross, he forgave those that were mocking him and had driven nails into his hands, and recognized the fact they did not know what they are doing. He never nitpicked behavioral defects because he knew that bad behavior is only an outward symptom of an inward issue that can only be changed when the heart is transformed.

Second, think of Jason’s story. Once we have the full context of a person’s life we truly begin to see them for who they are and feel compassion. Jesus overlooked their blunders because the bigger story was more important than the momentary sinful acts.

Lastly, Jesus wasn’t self-righteous. Being self-righteous means that you think your white collar sins aren’t as bad as someone else’s. Self-righteous people often single out ‘homosexual sins’ but never deal with or admit to their heterosexual sins of pornography or treating their spouses poorly. Self-righteous gluttons and gossips often call out their neighbor who smokes pot or doesn’t go to church, or who swears too much but they never deal with their own issues, not matter how minor they think they are. This is why Christ told us not to judge the splinter in another person’s eye until we get the the fat log out of our own.

A week ago, I wrote a book called FLESH for this very reason; to help Christians understand the beautiful way Jesus interacted with those around him and learn to quit trying to be so godly and instead learn to be more human and compassionate like Jesus was.

If you are a recovering Christian ‘Pharisee’ or you are one of those people that got judged and ran as far and as fast from religion as you could, consider looking at the life of Jesus again. I’m not asking you to go back to church. I’m just asking if you’d consider following Jesus just a little. And in that you might fond your life will be beautiful and maybe the world will get a little more beautiful as well.

Orignally posted at Heart Support

Posted in Flesh, Incarnational Community    Tagged with Jesus, Hugh Halter, Sex offender, Jesus, Jews, self-righteous, Christian leadership, Pharisee, love


Veronica - February 24th, 2014 at 1:47 PM
This. This is where God is breaking my heart. As a survivor of sex assault and long term abuse, I was forced to really wrestle with God on the issues of my own heart. I realized that for me, sex offenders/sexual traffickers/sexual predators were my "least of these", they were the ones that I would not want to share The Gospel with because I honestly found this entire group of people as "undeserving" of it. Hello!!!! What a totally idiot, right?! This brokenness, the whole contxt of someone's sin, is exactly why we ALL need Christ. Yet, to say it out loud to some Christians, you'd think I just spit on them....the amount of flack I've caught by feeling compassion for THIS group of marginalized people is unbelievable. And I think, of course, God, you WOULD send me, who has come from the abused side of the equation, to share with the abuser. Thanks for writing on this issue. I really pray more and more people start to get it. I wonder what it looks like to be more proactive about intervening in the lives of would be sex offenders. How do we lead these people to healin and change before they ever touch another human who then needs repair? Jesus.
Eric Stolte - February 24th, 2014 at 2:33 PM
Good word, Hugh. Thanks!
Eddie - February 24th, 2014 at 4:49 PM
Powerful, powerful words.
Wendy - February 25th, 2014 at 12:53 AM
While I understand and totally love your main idea about believing in the transformative power of the gospel and understanding the context of a persons story, I am a little leery about comparing this guy Jason, who apparently has severe psychological issues resulting from the horrific abuse he's suffered, to the "sinners" Jesus "hung out" with. I think we need to understand the difference between criminal acts committed by people without their faculties and sins committed by people who may be suffering from a deep stage of addiction at worst. Depending on who we are, where we're at and what resources we have, we may or may not be equipped to "hang around" people with severe mental issues. It might not be a safe option for many folks.
Ellie - April 19th, 2014 at 8:10 PM
Agreed that many people aren't equipped to 'hang around' people who are dangerous for any reason, mental issues or by choice or otherwise. I don't think that's what Mr. Halter was suggesting, however; it was more an attitude comparison than an action one.
As in, remember that Jason is no worse as sinner than anyone Christ loved and spent time with, or would have had Christ been alive now or Jason been alive then and they were contemporaries. The intent is not 'we should all go out and spend time with people we might not be qualified to safely interact with', as much as it is 'we should all love and accept those people (but not their actions) as Christ would'.
jodi - February 25th, 2014 at 9:32 AM
This. Yes. Just yes.
Allen - February 25th, 2014 at 1:49 PM
So timely .... but it's always relevant, isn't it? Thank you.
Ellie - April 19th, 2014 at 8:15 PM
I very, very much agree with this -- but just because we need to remove the logs from our eyes, doesn't mean that we should just let people walk around with those specks......
We can't be afraid to stand up for our convictions, the same ones Christ had and ticked people off with all the time, just because we aren't perfect.
It's no better to say "I can't tell Joe being homosexual is sinful because I look at porn" than it is to go and yell at Joe and ignore the porn usage.
What we should do is attack BOTH sins with truth, love, and prayer. We'll probably have a better chance of connecting with Joe if the conversation involves "I'm not without sin either -- here's what I struggle with."
There's got to be a balance even for us non-perfect, not-Jesus people between being hypocritical about sin, and just ignoring sin or letting it slide.
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