Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just go ahead and say it:

You LOVE pedophiles, Internet. Can’t get enough of them.

Or, at least, you love condemning them. You love having them around so you have someone you can feel morally superior to.

I was thinking about this the other day, when it was alleged that Stephen Collins, otherwise known as that one guy who played that one dude on that one show, had confessed on tape to molesting several preteen girls. You can find more tawdry details here if you want, but think long and hard about why you would actually want them.

At this point I should say that as yet there have been no charges filed, and the LAPD actually closed the book on the case a while ago (before recently reopening it), which means, so far, Collins is innocent in the eyes of the law. But the condemnation has been swift in the court of public opinion. Pretty much every TV channel pulled 7th Heaven reruns from their lineup, Collins was booted from his position at the Screen Actors Guild, and Seth McFarlane fired him from his role in Ted 2 (wait, is that one actually a punishment?).

The most swift forces to damn him, however, have been (of course) those of the Twittersphere.

If you’re not terribly attached to English grammar, feel free to read through the responses to some of Collins’s last few tweets. (A few samples: “u deserve hell“; “Skip the middleman and kill yourself, you waste of skin,” etc.) It’s uplifting stuff.

Now, just so I don’t wake up to headlines tomorrow that read “Luke T. Harrington is in favor of child molestation!” let me say that if the allegations are true, then Collins is indeed a monster who thoroughly deserves whatever punishments the law can mete out. That said, though, why the race to condemn, based on a bit of ambiguous evidence, by people who have never even met the guy? (Besides the fact that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was terrible, I mean.)

Again, I think I know. It’s because we all love to condemn pedophiles. It’s easy. It feels good. It’s the one moral infraction we can all agree on. Conservatives hate it because sex; liberals hate it because consent. Secularists hate it because rape; Christians hate it because THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

It feels good to have someone we can all point at and say, “That person is a bad person [and, therefore, since we are not that person, we are good people].” It’s the same reason we all like to talk about Hitler, more than half a century after his death. As long as we have a monster to point at, we can feel good about ourselves.

But here’s the thing, guys. In his epistle, St. James tells us:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

The Law of God isn’t à la carte. It’s not a list, in no particular order, of the things God would like us to do. It’s more like a blueprint of God’s original design for creation—an intricate clockwork system where, if one gear gets even a little out of sync, the whole thing collapses in chaos and destruction. (That it doesn’t—or hasn’t yet—is something those of us with roots in Reformed circles call “common grace.”) Seen in that light, it doesn’t matter which part of it you break—you’ve violated the whole, regardless.

It’s easy to think of yourself as a “good person” when the standard for “good person” is “don’t be a pedophile.” (And then, if you ever become a pedophile, just change your standard again, obvs.) The standard set by Christ, though, is a bit higher than that: perfect obedience to every command, and nothing else. If you’ve ever been a jerk to a waiter, or been jealous of a friend’s wealth, or withheld assistance from a beggar, you’ve broken the whole law. You are no less guilty than a child molester, and neither am I.

Admittedly, this is hard teaching. I can’t expect anyone who’s not a Christian to understand it, and even most Christians will likely bristle at the suggestion. But anyone with a relatively objective viewpoint will tell you that we’re all quick to condemn others and quick to justify ourselves.

It’s entirely possible that many of the Twitter comments are inspired by sheer horror at the act itself—in which case, fine, I guess—but I can’t help but think many of them are also inspired by a need to point out the log in Collins’s eye in an effort to distract from the speck in the writer’s. So long as we can define “good” as “not a pedophile,” we can keep liking ourselves—and ignoring the higher call of Christ.


3 Comments

  1. “Secularists hate it because rape; Christians hate it because THINK OF THE CHILDREN.”

    I laughed heartily at this line, but your article is rightfully sobering toward the end. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. What would we say if the actions we carried out with the girls’ consent?
    Half the world is in pedophilia, considering that it’s common practice for older men to marry much younger women (some as young as 10-13) in many Arabic, Asian and African countries. And most of antiquity up until the last fifty or sixty years is guilty too…
    However, I feel from this article-and I didn’t read the link to the torrid information concerning the (alleged?) perpetrator- that the situation is more akin to rape or molestation. And obviously unacceptable of course.
    I tend to feel that it’s only a matter of time before our culture follows in the steps of the ancient Greeks and Romans and we become desensitized to any form of sexual action, calling it a “sexual expression.”

  3. That guy is a despicable piece of human filth that deser—… Uh… If I say any more I’ll iust push my foot deeper in my mouth… Great post! It’s good to be reminded of that passage as a hot-headed redhead in need of the fruits of temperance and self-control.

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