what reward do you have?
Matthew 5:46 (NRSV)
Last week, there was a terrible news story about two Maryland teenage girls that abused a 16 year old autistic boy multiple times and recorded some of the abuse on their phones.
The 17 year old girl was changed as an adult and the 15 year old was charged as a juvenile.
The difficulty about this story is that the autistic boy still considers the girls his friends and when his mother told him to stay away from them, he wasn't sure that he would.
To take advantage of one who is vulnerable socially like this is horrific and it makes my heart ache with the kind of pain that I feel for all those involved.
The reaction on websites has been understandably derogatory for the two girls.
However, some of the comments go overboard. Here's one from a man calling himself "Bar Man" from Los Angeles, California. He supposedly has 558 subscribers that follow his comments:
Life in prison is how you would sentence an adult human. These two are not human. I suggest the local pound. The Dogs at the pound are a better example of good, of love, and possible betterment. Yet most Dogs at a pound are only a few days away from execution. I prefer any Dog over these two.
This post had 6,161 likes as of my research on Tuesday.
This post had a one-word reply by a woman named Betty Cole:
I understand that it is easy to pile on. These girls are easy to despise. Anyone who ever faced bullying can channel those feelings into a reaction to this case.
As a pastor, I can't justify taking away someone's humanity by referring to them as animals. I understand the argument that says that they dropped their humanity when they acted in such a manner. But a part of the Christian faith is to see as God sees.
|What kind of Hell are these|
girls already in to allow themselves
to treat another person in this way?
And I realize that these girls did not learn this behavior by themselves. It was not gleaned from the internet. When you have a blatant disregard for human feelings like this, it is probable that they also have been abused in some way in the past. The feelings have bubbled up and been released in a way that is unacceptable.
There's no good solution for any of the three involved. But if we want to salvage the future of the two girls, we might seek some measure of rehabilitation rather than simply seeking punitive measures.
As we find ourselves halfway through the Lenten season, we may be tired of considering our own sins by now. In fact, it may be refreshing to turn to others that are far worse than ourselves. But in the end, we need to remember that we are all in need of redemption.
Let us pray for all three of these teens as they experience the cross.
Photo by Biswarup Ganguly (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons