Last week the news broke about a horrific, sad story out of Shiner, Texas. You can read details here, but here's a quick summary: A young father was working on his ranch when another worker told him that a man was seen taking his 4-year-old daughter to a secluded area. When he went to look for the little girl he heard her screaming and rushed to her rescue. The father found the man sexually molesting his daughter, and, in an effort to protect her, beat the man to death.
The overwhelming reaction to the story from readers and neighbors alike has been "good for him." As a father of two little girls myself, I cannot say I would have been able to, or even want to, do differently. Now, because this is America, there is a debate about whether the man should have acted as judge, jury, and executioner. It seems to me he was thinking and acting as a father, no more and no less. Regardless, the question has been raised as to whether he should face charges for his actions. But the debate over ethics or legality is not what has clawed its way into my mind with this story. I am content to let the courts handle the law and the professors handle the ethical debate.
What is impressed upon me is this: brokenness. Every single thing about this story screams brokenness. And as a Christian that matters as much to me as any debate.
The brokenness of the molester is not a pitiable one. It is an evil brokenness, and twisted, or was. There are not words to describe the horror he wreaked on a little girl's life. And, as a dead man, his brokenness has led him before the Perfect Judge. No court of mortals could have dealt as rightly with him, but in this life he broke a little girl and her father.
I think of the little girl. What can be said of the pain and fear that have been planted in her heart? Can she sleep at night? Can she smile or play? And will she find hope and healing?
And then there is the father. He is but 23 years old but has the blood of a man on his hands. He didn't choose it willingly but felt compelled to do it. What do I know of what it's like to take the life of another human? That is no small thing. And he has the pain of his little girl on his heart. That is enough to break a man.
This is a story of people, broken people. And while there are legal questions and an ethical quandary, it is no mere case study or topic of interest. It is a story of a family that needs hope, a salve for their hearts and souls. As followers of Christ these realities should be of first importance to us.