Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Are Sociopaths and Sex Offenders Beyond Redemption?

A psychological condition or a character trait that cannot be rehabilitated? A Pattern of behavior that is impossible to change? Yes to both. When most of us, even Christians, discuss or think of certain traits of character or certain behaviors, we put them in a class of their own. "This person is beyond rehabilitation. Put him or her away forever. Change is not possible" or "This person will re-offend; you can count on it. Lock him or her up and throw away the key." Are some people just incapable of change?

The Belief of Who Cannot Be Rehabilitated

Persons exposed as sex offenders are almost universally believed to be people who cannot learn new attitudes and behaviors and change course in life. Most of us, Christian and non-Christian, would (and may have said) "They will re-offend." "People like that will never change." "That is the way they are and that is why they must be kept away from us and our children." I don't think I need to define who sex offenders are, except that while many target women, many others target girls or boys. Sociopaths are psychopaths, especially if officially diagnosed, are seen as "incurable." Sociopathy (defined as the condition in relation to the society the person lives in) and psychopathy (defined as in relation of the person to his own emotional state) are defined as the "lack of a conscience" and the "inability of a person to feel or exhibit empathy." I have heard so many commentators and talk show hosts and guests say that no person with either of these conditions can ever change, as "by definition" they lack the conscience that would even motivate them to change. But are sex offenders and sociopaths actually unable to change? How would the Bible address that?

Sin, Repentance & Transformation

From a purely human standpoint, these persons and indeed all of us, are hopeless. Left to ourselves and our own powers, we are unable to change our motives, attitudes, and behaviors. "People like that do not change," is often said of many people with life-dominating character flaws. Left to ourselves, that statement is true of any of us. It does NOT matter if the sin is pedophilia or gossiping. It does not matter if the sin is sociopathy or greed. It does not matter if the sin is psychopathy or pride. Jesus taught, "Everyone who sins is a slave of sin." He said that not to any notorious sinner, but to the self-righteous religious leaders! He was talking about them, specifically, but he had anyone without Him in mind. But He added, "But if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed!" May I suggest That this would include any sex offender or psychopathy, who truly repents of their sin and trusts in Jesus to save them from its power, as that promise applies to any of us?

Forgiven People May Have to Face Consequences

The fact that even violent or "gross" sinners can be forgiven and live changed lives, does not negate one fact of life! Forgiven sinners may still have to face consequences, often for the protection of society. Years ago, Karla Faye Tucker, who brutally murdered a woman, had to face execution. This was in spite of the fact that, during her imprisonment, she professed to have receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. But even she had embraced the fact that she was forgiven and had found peace in that, her obviously changed heart made her willing to face her execution, though she had expressed a desire to be kept alive "so I can share Jesus with other prison inmates." Karla faced her death with peace. I had seen and her as she was facing her final moments. Convicted sex offenders and murderers and other criminals, even when they turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior, should still face the consequences of their crimes. This is to protect society and to keep people free of fear. Also, we Christians retain our sinful natures until death and are subject to temptation. But, praise God, redemption is possible for all, despite the need to maybe face the fallout from our wrong acts or poor choices!
Praise God!

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