Does the Bible forbid us as Christians from feeling “a burst of rage” when we hear about cases of pedophiles molesting, raping or killing children? Are we putting ourselves in the “Judge’s seat” when we feel such special anger and rage toward people who would do such things to children?
A Christian blogger calling herself “SeriouslyServing” answers both of these questions with a firm “YES”. In her view Christians are forbidden from feeling a burst of rage or anger or feeling any differently toward cases of child molestation than any other sin.
In her post “Thank You, Lord, That I am Not Like This Paedophile” SeriouslyServing writes:
“Every time a news story breaks about a new case of child sexual abuse or a child porn user, a slew of people rush to the comments section to declare their thoughts about the criminal.
“Scum of the earth…”
“Bring back the death penalty…”
“Let him stay with the general population in prison, see how he likes that…”
In one sense, I can relate. Nothing sickens me more than the thought of people hurting and abusing children, especially since I’ve had kids of my own. At times, I’ve read details of these horrific cases and felt a burst of rage, and contemplated what justice might look like for that person.
So we put ourselves firmly in the seat of Judge, and we mete out what we would consider Justice. I have to laugh at the incongruity here, given one of the maxims of our day is “don’t judge”…
“Don’t judge” – unless the person you’re judging is a paedophile.
“Don’t judge” – unless it’s someone who is clearly way worse than you.
“Don’t judge” – unless it’s publicly acceptable to do so.”
To be clear, SeriouslyServing, is admitting she has struggled with reacting to the actions of pedophiles differently than any other sin. The rest of the article is her telling herself and us why she thinks she was wrong for feeling that way and why we should feel wrong as well.
And just a note – the different spelling of “Paedophile” has to do with the fact that SeriouslyServing is using the British spelling of the word. The American spelling is “pedophile” so that is what I am using.
SeriouslyServing bases her premise that we are wrong to feel a burst of rage or any differently about what pedophiles do to children on this passage from the Gospel of Luke:
“9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)
SeriouslyServing has completely misinterpreted the meaning of Christ’s parable that we have just read. The emphasis was not on judging sin, but on a person, being self-righteous.
Christ said this in another part of the Gospels:
“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Mark 2:17 (KJV)
Jesus was saying here that unless we see ourselves as sinners in need of the great physician which is Christ we cannot be saved. This is the same message Christ was giving in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee who thanked God “that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” was showing God he did not see himself as a sinner before God. He thought his good outweighed any bad he did and that his works made him righteous before God.
Luke 18:9-14 is actually a beautiful picture of what it takes for us to be saved. I have used it many times in sharing the Gospel. We cannot look at the good we do or compare ourselves to others and think because we do more good than some others that we are saved. We cannot think that because we don’t do certain things others do that we are saved. Each us must do what the Publican did and pray “God be merciful to me a sinner”. This is the only way we can be saved.
Does God view all sins of equally?
Is it wrong for us to feel a special rage toward those who harm children or should we have no burst of rage or anger toward such sins and regard them as no different than someone getting a speeding ticket?
It is absolutely true that all sin condemns us to hell.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”
Romans 5:12 (KJV)
Whether we sin little, or sin much the smallest sin will condemn us to hell. But just because all sin equally condemns us to hell – this does not make all sin equally heinous before God. The Scriptures show that God views some sins as more heinous than others.
When the Jews said that Jesus did his miracles by the power of Satan he said:
“31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Matthew 12:31-32 (KJV)
So, as we can see ascribing the miracles of God to Satan is something especially heinous to God and is set apart from other sins.
Jesus in speaking to Pilate said:
“Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
John 19:11 (KJV)
Christ was saying if Pilate sentenced him to death that would be a sin against God in that he would be sentencing an innocent man to death. But the “greater sin” was committed by the Jewish leaders who handed him over to Pilate for death. They were rejecting Christ as their Messiah and calling Jesus who was the sinless son of God a sinner worthy of death. Theirs was truly the greater sin.
Again, in the New Testament Paul has a warning for those who are teachers of God’s Word:
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”
James 3:1 (KJV)
If a person sins because they have been wrongly taught that it is ok to do something they will still be judged by God. But God judges the teachers who taught others to do such things with a greater condemnation than those who simply followed the wrong teaching.
Here we see God specially targets sexual sin:
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”
1 Corinthians 6:18 (KJV)
So, as we can see from the Scriptures – all sins condemn us to hell but not all sins are judged equally by God. Some sins receive a greater condemnation than others.
Is it wrong to judge?
But what about judging? Doesn’t the Bible say we should never judge others sin?
A lot of Christians and non-Christians alike misunderstand what Christ said about judging below:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)
If you look at the passage in its context Christ is condemning hypocritical judging, not all judging. If we are doing the same things or worse things than what someone else is doing we have no business passing judgement on what they have done.
Besides hypocritical judging there is one other type of judging the Bible condemns as seen in the passage below:
“1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
Romans 14:1-2 (KJV)
We are not to pass judgement on our brothers regarding disputable matters. There are some things in which we must seek the Lord’s will for personal decisions in our lives. As Christians we may come to different conclusions on some matters and we must do what we believe is right before the Lord based on searching the Scriptures and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
So, as we have shown from the Scriptures God condemns two types of judging – hypocritical judging and judging on disputable matters or matters of conscience.
But we are in fact commanded to judge righteously as opposed to judging hypocritically or in matters of conscience as seen in the Scriptures below:
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
Leviticus 19:15 (KJV)
“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:9 (KJV)
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
John 7:24 (KJV)
Too many Christians and non-Christians alike believe that no one can say anything against their sin. They say “the Bible says judge not lest ye be judged!” But they are absolutely wrong in their assertions of what the Bible says. The Bible tells us not judge unjustly. It tells us not to judge hypocritically. It tells us not judge in matters of conscience. But where God speaks clearly and we are not guilty of such things ourselves we are commanded by God to “in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor”.
This means that Christians can and must speak out against things like murder (including the murder of the unborn) rape and fornication including one of the most wicked and heinous forms of fornication which is child molestation.
Is it always wrong to get angry?
Like in the matter of judging, many Christians and non-Christians alike believe the Bible condemns all forms of anger or hatred based on passages like this one below:
“43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Matthew 5:43-45 (KJV)
Was Christ condemning all forms of anger or hatred? The answer is no. We can see from Christ himself that he acted in anger:
“13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”
John 2:13–17 (KJV)
Like judging, not all anger is according to the Scriptures. The New Testament tells there is a righteous form of anger:
“26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.”
Ephesians 4:26-27 (KJV)
If we look back to the Old Testament we can understand what kind of anger is actually righteous in God’s sight:
“Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 97:10 (KJV)
“21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.”
Psalm 139:21-22 (KJV)
Many good men who had righteous anger toward wicked things that happen in our world have allowed their righteous anger to be turned into sinful bitterness and this is something we should always guard against in our lives as Christians.
However, there is a zeal, an anger or hatred for evil that is in fact righteous before God. Christ demonstrated such righteous anger when he put a whip together and drove the money changers out of the temple.
So, if Christ was not condemning all forms of hatred in Matthew 5:43-45 what was he condemning? To find the answer to this question we must look to another of Christ’s statements later in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
Matthew 24:9 (KJV)
Christ was saying that if we are hated for being Christians we would should use that as a way to minister toward our spiritual enemies. We should love those who hate us for being Christians and show them the love of Christ. But this was not a condemnation of us being angry at evil or hating evil acts against innocents.
Christ had a special hatred for those who would harm children
In the same way that Christ had a zeal for those would abuse his father’s house he also had a righteous hatred toward those who would harm children:
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Matthew 18:1-6 (KJV)
Several times in the Gospels Christ told his disciples that in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven they needed to become as little children. He was using children as a symbol of innocence. Children are trusting. Child place their dependence on others for their provision and protection. Only if we humble ourselves as a child seeing ourselves in need of God’s forgiveness and grace can we be saved.
Christ then gives a stern warning against those who would offend (or harm or lead astray) one of these “little ones”. He says it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck and be cast into the see than to commit wickedness against one of these “little ones”.
This warning has multiple applications of course. In its most literal sense as Christ holds a child in his arms he is talking about those who would commit wickedness against the innocence of a child. But he is also using this in the spiritual sense of those false teachers who would come along and lead believers astray with false doctrines.
We have demonstrated from the Scriptures some very important principles.
Luke 18:9-14 rather than being a condemnation of us being angered by the wickedness that others do is a condemnation of having a self-righteous attitude toward God in the matter of salvation. We can only be saved when we see ourselves as wicked sinners and we must not think because we don’t do certain things or do certain things that this provides the justification for our salvation.
While Romans 5:12 shows us that all men have sinned and all sin equally condemns men to hell, other passages like John 19:11 and James 3:1 show us that there are in fact greater and lesser sins in God’s eyes.
On the subject of judging in the Scriptures we read that we are actually commanded to judge righteously (Leviticus 19:15 & John 7:24) while at the same time we are forbidden from judging from a place of hypocrisy (Matthew 7:1-5) or from judging other Christians in matters of conscious (Romans 14:1-2).
The Bible actually commands us to be angry at sin and hate evil acts (Ephesians 4:26-27, Psalm 97:10, Psalm 139:21-22). Jesus Christ acted in zealous and righteous anger in whipping the money changers and driving them from the temple (John 2:13–17). The Bible warns us against allowing our righteous anger to turn into bitterness. Christ commands us to show love toward those who hate us for his name’s sake.
Finally, we showed that Christ did single out those who would commit wicked acts against the innocence of children.
So, we can rightly say using the principles that Christ laid out that it would be better for a man to have a large stone hung around his neck than for him to commit wicked acts against the innocence of a child.
It is absolutely true that God offers forgiveness, mercy and grace towards sinners including murders, rapists and yes even pedophiles. But God also commands us to judge from a righteous position these heinous acts. Just because God offers forgiveness and grace does not mean he is not filled with anger and hatred toward such acts and he commands us to be “Be ye angry, and sin not”.
There is a reason that social workers, police officers and soldiers feel “a burst of rage” and a different kind of hatred when they find children having been abused, molested, raped or murdered. There is a reason that even the hardest of criminals feel this way toward pedophiles. It is because children are one of God’s greatest symbols of innocence and when their innocence is violated in these heinous ways it should evoke a righteous anger and hatred in all of us, if it doesn’t that is the problem.