Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Roman Polanski’s Case for Grace has Nothing to Do with Genius

 art_polanski_roman_gi.jpgFrench authorities are bending over backwards today to defend Roman Polanski after authorities arrested the filmmaker on a 30 year old sexual abuse warrant. The point: He’s an artistic genius. Frederic Mitterrand, the French culture and communications minister, said “he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem” and has “exceptional artistic creation and human qualities.” The problem: Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl – U.S. officials say he drugged and raped her – then fled to France before sentencing.



Perhaps sympathy and grace are called for here, but is the case for mercy based on Polanski’s “exceptional artistic creation and human qualities”? In other words, is God’s justice doled out differently from person to person, based on aptitude? We’d better hope not!


There’s a similar story in the Old Testament when King David, at the height of his power and influence seduced and “stole” another man’s wife, conceived a child by her, then had her husband, one of his loyal officers, killed. God did not overlook this injustice. He sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. Though he was King, he was in fact subject to the same laws of right and wrong that governed even the lowest rungs of society. There are not positional exceptions to God’s standards. It is perhaps the first case in history of what we now call “The rule of law” – that justice to an outside standard applies to everyone irrespective of power or wealth or popularity or genius. Everyone is judged by the same standard, in God’s eyes. As the Bible puts it, “God is no respecter of persons…”



Roman Polanski may have a case to appeal his sentence, but that case has nothing to do with the fact that millions of people respect him as a storyteller and social commentator. His only validation of grace is that God himself is merciful and judges none of us by what we deserve, and that he asks us to balance justice with mercy in our civic systems, just as he does in his “Kingdom of Heaven.” If Polanski wants mercy, he needs to ask for it the same way anyone would, and not hide behind the scrim of his fame and genius.  



Our right to prayer to God is anchored in this profound and simple fact: We all approach God on level ground. I’m no artistic genius and most of you reading this are not either. Still, we can come to God asking for mercy, no matter what we’ve done, knowing that his willingness to give mercy is not conditioned on our worthiness but on his willingness and on our appeal in Jesus’ name.


If you need pardon today, come to God asking for mercy. He’ll give it…


“God, I come to you asking for mercy. I don’t deserve pardon, either because of who I am or what I’ve done. I know I’m in need of forgiveness merely because I can’t help myself out of this fix. I appeal to your heart of love and compassion and I come in Jesus name knowing that he has taken my place and borne my punishment. That is my plea: guilty, but pardoned in Jesus’ name. Thank you!”

  • Frank Israel

    Hello Mark,
    As Roman’s victim put it a few years ago. Along with a sequence of bad choices that led to Roman running from the law, Roman shouldn’t have been put in to the legal position he was forced into as it was. Apparently the Judge took it upon himself, “to further his own agenda”- in her words, and where Roman had cooperated and not put up a legal defense (which in our system is not always equivocate with moral defense), in other words he “cut a deal”, he was betrayed by this Judge and was now facing 50 years in jail. Roman ran.
    As a public figure who had suffered the trauma of having his wife Sharon Tate and his innocent unborn baby mercilessly butchered by Charlie Manson’s followers just a few years prior to this event he had some cause to doubt grace of any kind- he didn’t bring this up his mental state during his legal proceedings. He was more than willing to atone for his mistake- the Judge went nuts. Roman ran.
    Perhaps a more germane question that applies to grace is: whats up with the Swiss? They saw Roman’s legal dilemma for what it was. So after 40 years their grace period on this ran out?

  • James

    Sin can never be met with sin. There is no disputing the sinfulness of Polanski’s actions 30 years ago, but judges should double deal and lie. They either need to give him a new trial, or respect the original plea agreement

  • Ms J

    This man needs to face the music! He broke our laws, and he needs to pay the consequences. If the judge acted inappropriately, that needs to be dealt with as well – but these should be handled as two separate legal issues.
    I don’t care what the man’s ‘job’ is, or how well he may do it… that is not the issue. He had sex with a 13 year old child!! Hello??
    Even though she may now say ‘forget it’… do we as American’s just say, ‘well, ok – he makes good movies and she said it’s ok now’?? If so, we may as well erase all the laws on the books and have at it!!

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