About an hour ago Warren Jeffs was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his crimes. While I don’t always read the comments posted on news stories such as this, I found myself reading the ones posted on the NPR news story about the conviction, and I am appalled.
Let me be clear. What Warren Jeffs was convicted of is horrific. There is absolutely no excuse for the molestation, rape, or abuse of children.
But the comments I’ve been reading are horrific as well – calls for the gang rape of Warren Jeffs, prayers for someone to sodomize and kill him, jokes about how he will find “new wives” in prison. When did we become so blood thirsty? When did we become so cruel?
What Jeffs did was terrible, and I am not asking his victims to forgive him. Forgiveness is earned,if it ever comes. What I am asking is why we, as a people, are so blood thirsty. No matter the crime – no one deserves to be raped. No matter the crime – no one deserves to be brutalized.
Yes, the God of Torah is a God of justice and punishment and anger. But Adonai is also “the LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin » (Exodus 34:6-7).
We are called to compassion. We are called to forgiveness. Warren Jeffs is a man who is sick, who is wounded, and who deserves our compassion as he pays for his crimes. Rather than praying for his abuse and torture, we should be praying that he finds awareness of the pain he has caused, peace with his God, and the strength to live with what he has done. I have to believe that Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist – no matter the faith or lack of faith you come from – the call of humanity is forgiveness and compassion. It’s what makes us human. Punishment and forgiveness may be between Jeffs,his victims, and his God. But we have in our hands compassion, and, right now, I can’t think of a man who needs it more.