I pondered a bit about the title of this post. I hadn’t intended on preaching a sermon, and it is still my intent not to do so. My intent, as I sat at my Macbook for an hour or two of writing, was to to impart to you my very strange four days on a jury. The fact that I was seated on a jury is strange enough. At 47, it’s my first time, and I’ve only been called in to jury duty three times.
It was also strange that this was not a criminal case. It was a case to determine if the court should take jurisdiction of a six-month old baby boy. The judge later informed us that it is very odd that something of this nature go to a jury trial. If I understand it correctly, Child Protective Services makes a recommendation to the Prosecutor’s office, who then makes the motion to the judge. If no one contests the motion, the judge makes her ruling. In this case, the baby’s father contested the motion and then requested a jury trial.
The nature of the trial revolved around the father’s alleged sexual misconduct toward another child in the home. And (as if more were necessary) his use of the little girl’s underwear in certain activities. I’ll leave it that. I’m sure your imagination can take over. The jury’s sure did.
Now, the father is not the only lost soul in this case. The mother has had two other children by two other men and, without doubt, will soon find another man to set up house with. That statement will shock few of you. Most of us, by the time we’ve got a few decades under out belt, have witnessed such destructive behavior within our own families. If it’s not promiscuous behavior, it’s alcoholism, or drug abuse, or any number of self-serving, selfish, abusive behavior.
I’ve listened to people say that we have no right to judge the behavior of others. That any damage done is only to themselves. But I know of at least three children who might say otherwise. Not now, but later, when the behavior of their parents impacts their lives. In fact, I’ve yet to witness any type of immoral behavior that didn’t pull in victims like a black hole in the social fabric of our universe.
Behavior matters. The drunk destroys his family. The porn-addict alienates his wife. The promiscuous man or woman will, eventually, leave at least one child without a solid family environment.
Here’s a little factoid: one of the witnesses in this trial was a woman who performs forensic interviews at a place called Hope House. She’s done this for about twelve years. She has performed over 900 child interviews. That’s one woman in this line of work. In one county. Tell me, my friends who say their behavior is none of my business, how many hundreds of thousands of children have had to grow up with abusive parents, live in filthy conditions, be sexually abused, or simply never lived in a stable household?
It is my business. And that’s why Jesus matters.
Jesus matters because He sets higher expectations than the world sets on us. He tells us, unapologetically, that we are to be wed to one man or one woman. That we are to provide for our families. That we are to exhibit self-control.
He holds us accountable–something that our live-and-let-live society has failed to do. Our desire to “judge not” has resulted in a turn-your-back apathy that has birthed the type of young men I saw this week at the defendant’s table. He is unlikely to listen to other men now. That window has passed. But if he, and millions like him turn to Jesus, they’ll witness the ultimate in manly behavior and fell compelled to emulate it.
And how can they hear the good news if no messenger delivers it? You can see where I’m going here. The trial I sat in this week is only the end result of a systemic problem. Men are not mentoring boys and those boys are not hearing from those of us who have the answer. By our unwillingness (MY unwillingness) to share the gospel, another child is suffering unspeakable abuse.
The young man performed the action, but it is our inaction that allows the behavior to be set in motion. We were given two commands before our Lord left us: love one another and share the gospel with the world. I’d say we get a C+ on the first command an F on the second. We spend 10% of our time in church talking about those commandments and 90% on the “everything else.” Maybe we should reverse that equation. If He only gave us two commandments on the day when He was most in tune with the Father’s will, don’t you think we’d carve those into the back of every pew?
Love one another. Share the gospel.
I submit that global implementation of this two-part plan would shut down places like Hope House almost overnight. Because there would simply be a lack of abused children to fill their halls.