We all saw the pathetic doctor in the dock. He got 174 years, no doubt not enough for his sexual exploitation of the hundreds of female gymnasts he abused for twenty years. The venom and the vengeance of the victims of Larry Nassar will remain in our minds as he disappears into a prison where he will inevitably (?) suffer similar abuse as well as permanent physical violence as long as he manages to survive. The next thing we will hear about him will no doubt be his murder or suicide. Many of us will think, and not hesitate to say, “he had it coming !”.
In the movie, “Saints and Soldiers”, a bunch of American G.I.s in war-torn France during the push towards Berlin are discussing Hitler’s atrocities. “The Nazis”, one says, “will be punished for their crimes in this life or the next.” “Do you really believe that ?”, says another. His buddy, a deeply religious man, replies : “I know that”. He was only partially right, even about “this life”; we all know that many Nazi criminals escaped justice for decades – sometimes until they died – in South America and even in Germany. He was dead wrong about the “next” life, because there isn’t one.
We cannot be indifferent to crime, especially when it is cruel, vicious, sadistic. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” is beyond the comprehension and capacity of 99.999% of us. We want and demand our pound of flesh, sometimes even if it means taking the law into our own hands and becoming criminals ourselves.
“Vengeance is mine” said the Lord. It is bad enough that people accept this outrageous claim without hesitation. But when He doesn’t step forward, some feel they can and should do the job for Him. It takes character and courage to protect criminals from the blood-lust of outraged citizens or even of their victims who survive. We dehumanize ourselves when we sink to the level of the lynch-mob. “Lex sed Lex”. No one should be expected to forgive Larry Nassar or Adolph Hitler, and it is our duty never to forget their crimes. But we owe it to ourselves to protect and respect the rule of law, and not allow vengeance to diminish and defile us.
P.S. You might like to re-read two earlier posts : “Pity is Not Pretty” (October 27, 2014) and “Christ Redeemer” (October 18, 2014).