Thursday, April 20, 2006

Go Figure

I have to admit a little secret, I really enjoy reading Ann Coulter’s work. Her wit and often satire of the political scene and popular media culture make me smile, but beyond that, she is usually dead on with her opinions. In her most recent column, she mentions the hype surrounding the Duke University lacrosse team rape case, as well as the Natalie Holloway disappearance and the case of the young woman who was brutally murdered in New York City earlier this year. Though the Duke case is still up in the air, it is obvious in the two other cases that something terrible happened. But, could any of this have been avoided, and what are the issues surrounding these cases that the media is not willing to address?

Ms. Coulter correctly points out that though kidnapping, rape, murder, and false accusations are never justified, and those who commit such acts should pay the severe consequences, the criminals are not to blame for the unwise behavior of the victims that put them into compromising situations. Coulter points out:

“However the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, one lesson that absolutely will not be learned is this: You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money. Also, you can severely reduce your chances of being raped if you do not go to strange men's houses and take your clothes off for money. (Does anyone else detect a common thread here?) And if you are a girl in Aruba or New York City, among the best ways to avoid being the victim of a horrible crime is to not get drunk in public or go off in a car with men you just met.”

Further she adds, “Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people, but the outpouring of support for the victims and their families is obscuring what ought to be a flashing neon warning for potential future victims.” Unfortunately, in our society of “rights” and “freedom” the media is not willing to stand up and warn against the dangers of bad judgment calls, because by doing so there is the fear that we will in some way be questioning the rights of these young people who were merely exercising their freedom. (On a side not, it is worthy to point out here that just because you can do something, does not mean it is always a good idea to do it.)

I am not justifying the tragic end to these situations, but we must point out that if compromising situations had been avoided, the tragedy might have been evaded as well. In each of these cases, the young people were engaged in behavior that not long ago “would have been recognized as vulgar — whether or not anyone ended up dead, raped or falsely accused of rape. But in a nation of people in constant terror of being perceived as "judgmental," I'm not sure most people do recognize that anymore.”

Coulter, not usually the theologian, goes on to point out that just because we have been involved at some point in an act of wrong, that we in turn cannot warn or criticize those who do the same thing. The old “boys will be boys” argument, only now applied across the board. The well meaning mother may comment, “Well, lots of people do stupid things, I know I have, who am I to judge?” Coulter points to the likes of Rev. Franklin Graham, and the apostle Paul as examples of men who have turned from their mistakes to lead others away from the same path they once followed.

Coulter says that only in cases of morality are people held accountable for their failures and deemed hypocrites for attempting to keep others from following the path they once trod. I once touched a hot iron and it burned me, but no one calls me a hypocrite for warning others not to do the same thing.

Near the close of her article, the author writes “But we're all rotten sinners, incapable of redemption on our own.” This does not mean, however, that in our sin and inability we should leave others to mess up their own lives without warning or correction.

Christ has paid our debt on the cross; his wounds have given us healing. As Christians, we must recognize that morality is an issue worth addressing. Regardless of what we may have done in our lives, we have the responsibility to model morality and character and to caution others of the dangers of living only to please themselves in disobedience to Christ. The tragedy of rape and murder should never be made light of, but the warning signs need to flash loud and clear.

True freedom is not the ability to live as you want to live. True freedom is to live in Christ, free from the burden of sin. The freedom found in Christ frees us to live, not as our sinful nature desires, but instead to live the way we were created to exist. True freedom is life in Christ.

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