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The road with a thousand exits

"I just ruined my entire life over something I knew was wrong."

This phrase was muttered by a man on a clip I pulled up from the "To Catch a Predator" series done by Dateline NBC, where adult men are caught attempting to rendezvous with young teenage girls for sex. It seems extreme... something that hard core sexual deviants would do. To go to the lengths it takes to establish contact, initiate enough to get the interest established, set up the encounter, travel to the location, participate in the act, and then leave your subject behind while you leave and go about your life seems like something only the most obscure and desperate would attempt. But those of us who would think that are naive. This weekend a campus minister I know from Oklahoma was busted doing this very thing. A very well respected campus minister who leads a very well respected ministry. He was caught in a police sting and now this area of his life has been publicly exposed and he will forever be marked by the authorities as a sexual offender. His ministry life and career are destroyed. His family, including children, are forever scarred.

"...something I knew was wrong..."

This is probably the sentiment of that campus minister. How many outs did he have during the whole process of seeking out the contact and traveling across the state to do the deed? 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? I can only imagine a desperate God, showing him a way at every moment to shut the whole thing down and turn back. Something he knew was wrong. I wonder how many "To Catch a Predator" clips he had seen himself?

But we cannot discuss this incident without taking a hard look at ourselves. It would be very easy to pin on a huge pride button and bask in the self-righteous comfort of knowing that we would never do such a heinous and unthinkable thing. But is that the point? Sin is sin. How often do we go through with things that we know are disgusting and gut-wrenching to God, and are provided with countless numbers of outs in the process? How often are the massive red flags of conscious waving warnings about the danger, yet we press on? I'm afraid that there are times when I simply make those flags a part of the landscape, which usually makes sinfulness entertaining if not enjoyable. But is that not exactly the kind of thing that would lead a minister to jeopardize everything he is and God has made him to be for a few moments with a 13 year old?

----------------

Update:

This campus minister, in an online chat leading up to the encounter, stated “I could get in trouble, you’re 13 and I’m older, we aren’t supposed to be doing this.”

I'm praying that we learn important lessons from this. I'm also praying for that ministry, which has obviously been terribly violated by this.


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