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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Depravity of Another Kind

Gnawing Doubts 

Here is a truly horrific crime, as reported in Stuff:
A "depraved" paedophile has been sent to prison for sexual offending against his infant son. A 27-year-old South Canterbury man was sentenced in the Oamaru District Court this afternoon to eight years 10 months imprisonment by Judge Joanna Maze for offending which will have a profound effect on his child.

The man sat motionless in the dock as he was sentenced on a raft of child exploitation charges, including two of sexual violation and indecent assault, and selling the use of his then 13-month-old son for sexual gratification for $500. . . .


Judge Maze said the offender had offered pictures and videos of him exploiting his child in trade for photos of sexual offending against young girls. Between May and July last year he took images of him abusing his then 13-month-old son. Police found 815 objectionable images on his computer and 84 videos. The offender admitted straight away to police his offending when questioned in July last year and later went back to Police and thanked them for saving his life. The offender also tried to take his own life before the charges were laid. He said he could not identify any triggers that had led to the offending against his child. 
It is not often that the adjective "depraved" is applied to a person in these libertine days.  After all, once homosexuality was considered to be depraved, as was bestiality.  No longer.  These are now regarded as human rights. 

Yet the adjective is appropriately and justly applied to the man who perpetrated this unspeakable crime against his own flesh and blood.  Just as the adjective is appropriate and accurate when applied to homosexuality and bestiality.  The law of God is not bendable to conform to the fancies and proclivities and lusts of man, such as those now able to influence public opinion or write laws.

Law and crime is not primarily a social construct.  To have any abiding validity it must reflect absolute standards and absolute law.  Because our culture denies God, its construct of law and justice is inherently relativistic.  In our day, the law has indeed become nothing more than a social construct or cultural custom, a wax nose to be reshaped by each succeeding generation.  Because society currently finds the sexual molestation of children objectionable, it is considered criminal behaviour.  But that is not to say what society in a hundred years might fund.  What society currently finds depraved (a shrinking list) our descendants in one hundred years might regard as quite all right, normal even. 

Thus when a newspaper condemns a man's crimes and calls him depraved, we are entitled to ask, "By whose lights and by what standard?"  What right has society to condemn another human being?  Are not both equally human?  The Darwinians amongst us (the vast majority of the Commentariat after all) tell us that in Nature homosexuality frequently occurs: therefore it is natural, in the sense of ordinary.  Certainly not depraved.  Therefore, non-acceptance of homosexuality is itself an "evil"; to regard homosexuality as wicked is itself "depraved", unnatural, inhuman.  But, of course, in Nature animals often eat their offspring.  So, honest Darwinians should be advocating that human infanticide and child anthropophagy should equally be regarded as normal and natural and ordinary.  Certainly the condemnation of such a practice is unjustified: rather it should be something a free and enlightened society would welcome.

For the modern Unbeliever all ethical principles or axioms amount to nothing more than blatant prejudices hung in mid-air, representing the imposition of the powerful upon the less powerful.  Concepts like "depravity" are without content or true meaning.

For Christians,  "depravity" is both true and personal.  We find the characterisation of  the particular paedophile referred to above to be just and necessarily accurate.  For what God condemns, man must loathe.  But here is the rub: Christians believe in universal depravity--a depravity that ubiquitously belongs to all men, not just the criminal profiled above (Romans 3:23  ". . . for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.")   Moreover , we believe in radical depravity--a depravity that has poisoned every part of our being (Genesis 6:5  "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually".)

So when we condemn the paedophile as depraved, the principles of righteousness and justice require that we also condemn ourselves, for the same blood flows in our veins.  Consequently, Christian condemnation of such crimes is qualitatively and conceptually different from the world's condemnation.  Firstly, we loathe it absolutely because God hates such things, not merely because they are currently out of fashion (which is the strongest condemnation Unbelief can muster).  Secondly, we recognise the same sinful depravity to be present in our own hearts and minds.  We recognise that we all, each one of us, are capable of these kinds of evils. 

We conclude by considering the plight of the Unbeliever.  Try as he might, he cannot erase the image of God in which he is made.  His whole being cries out to condemn evil and unrighteousness: hence the current horror and contempt for the sins of paedophilia.  But, at the same time, his conscience is being progressively deadened and neutered under the relentless relativism of our age.  The conscience of the Unbeliever wants to reject and condemn, but Unbelief is at the same time becoming more and more welcoming of evil.  As a result, the conscience of  the Unbeliever more and more gnaws in the dark 

The absolute, divine light of God's law has been deliberately shut out.  The conscience of the Unbeliever wants to condemn wrong, but has no sure foundation or basis or standards by which it can.  And when society does alight upon an evil to condemn it, the antipathy and condemnation is ever hollow.  The Unbeliever knows the next generation will have a different view.  What society condemns today has the inevitable corrupting tinge of uncertainty, and doubt and, therefore, attendant hypocrisy.

The deep desire to condemn dashing upon the rocks of doubt and uncertainty.  Behold the storm-tossed plight of  the modern Unbeliever.  Depravity of another kind, but depravity nonetheless.

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