Wolves Among the Sheep: Why the 21st Century Church Must Guard Against and Not Protect Sex Offenders
It pains me to even have to write about this subject. I am both disgusted and saddened. In Oklahoma today, an injustice has been done to a young girl, not only by her family but by the court system and her overall church governence. A not-so-careful church, a miguided legal system and a family who did not want to be inconvenienced by a trial have failed this child. And this perpetrator - he basically got away with rape.
Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, whose legal blindness kept him from a jail sentence was accused of raping an OK girl at a Baptist church camp last summer. He pled guilty. Yesterday, the courts in Murray County, OK said he would be given 15 years of probation instead of a jail sentence because of his legal blindness - irregardless of a the fact that he commited a violent sexual crime. The girl's family did not want inconvenienced by a trail so they entered a plea deal (e.g. probation). The church did not run background checks on the employees working at the camp. I can bet you Mr. Petty used one of the oldest tricks in the book - use my health issue to cloud the issue and avoid responsibility.
The real victim in all of this is the 13 year old girl who will now have to put her life back together. She will suffer because everyone in this case did not believe this was that big of a deal, including her parents. I honestly do not know whether to scream or throw up. I have not been this appalled at the failing of the justice system, the church and two grown suppossedly Christian adults as I am today! I am praying for her and I pray we open our eyes!
Aside from the travesty of justice here, I wonder why once again a church (this is the 2nd time that I know of in recent years) did not take proper precautions for anyone working around their children - regardless of whether they were affiliated with the church or not. Church, what are you thinking? Do you not know the wolves will come where they know they will not be bothered and where they know they will be tolerated? They will come if they think you "trust" them and they will smile all the way out the door when they are done with their destruction! As for her parents, I wonder what would possess two parents, Christian or not, to not want a man seriously punished for raping their daughter. I believe these parents were and are ashamed of this whole thing as well as worried about what others will think which makes this about them not her - an issue for another blog. One day she will ask them why and they will have to answer.
American church, this is your wake up call!! This is not about you and it is not about your ability to be seeker friendly! There are wolves among you and they are after you and your children's lives. They are there to do three things: steal, kill and destroy! They are there to manipulate you and destroy unity! You must guard against them and you must never protect them! How can light and darkness co-exist? Can good and evil have any fellowship together? These people may be hurt themselves but they are still evil and they allow evil to rule their lives. They have not repented! Don't be fooled!
Church leaders, let there be no cause for any questions regarding these issues. The church's already skewed reputation is further damaged if you leave room for doubt. Do as many background checks as you have to for children's and teen ministry, no matter what it costs you! If someone in your church harms a child, teenager, woman or man, call the police! Teach your ministry workers what to look for where abuse, neglect and trafficking are concerned. Are we not to be a place of shelter for these broken people? Not a place where they will be re-victimized! Did you not think these things would attempt to make inroads into the church and disrupt the calling of the church? Well you know now that they do and they will! Wolves are opportunists and we have let our guard down! This is your wake up call! Head it! The time is now!
Do you want to know how to spot the wolves? I will leave you with Jesus's words from Matthew 7:16-18:
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Standing against the wolves,