The Angry Mob – Forgiveness vs. Trust

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We love our neighborhood in Alhambra, a city in the middle of Los Angeles County (just East of L.A., North of East L.A., and South of Pasadena). Since we have moved into our house 6 years ago, we have really enjoyed developing friendships with our neighbors.

As a parent I may be more aware of some of the bad things that have happened around us – two homicides within walking distance of our house, drug dealing arrests, carjackings (broken glass from a car window just two days ago), graffiti every once in a while, a homeless person or two staying on our street (one guy was living in a van parked right outside our side door), at least 4 traffic fatalities right around us, an occasional police presence (seemed like a stakeout a copy of weeks ago across the street from us), and now we found out about a house with 6 sexual offenders living there. This house is within 1/4 mile of our house.

Last night, I went with a friend of mine to the public hearing about this situation. There were hundreds of people – so many that there were dozens of us unable to get into the hearing. In the end, we signed petitions and the police seemed to indicate they would move towards evicting these guys.

I did feel a bit like I was part of an angry mob – like the townspeople chasing after Shrek or shouting “kill the beast!” in Beauty and the Beast, but everyone remained calm and made our point in a civil way. Some have taken to the street to protest the presence of these sexual offenders (see video here).

I hope these guys get the help they need, and I am grateful for those who are helping them. I am all about forgiving people and giving people a second chance, but for now, our neighborhood isn’t ready to be a part of their recovery.

Erwin mentioned something at the 5pm Mosaic gathering at the Mayan during the Q&A that seems to be where I keep landing on this issue. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean you have to trust them.

Showing 5 comments
  • Henry Zonio

    Some good thoughts to ponder. I have tension on this as well. I’m sure many of us do. We want to forgive and love people like this. It’s hard to distiguish that line between forgiveness and trust. Thanks for the openness.

  • Jonathan Brink

    Eric, Erwin said, “You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean you have to trust them.”

    But can you love them?

  • Eric Bryant

    Great question, Jonathan. I feel I can love them, but I don’t want them babysitting. Honestly, this was a hard post for me, because I am all about the story of redemption. At the same time, I could totally understand the fear of the worst case scenario from my friends. I hope these guys find a good place to get the help they need to become responsible members of society and even discover the power of a changed life with God.

  • David Adams

    This is a very difficult situation. I can understand the desire to evict sex offenders out of a neighborhood especially one that has young children. There is no greater crime when children are abused.

    Here is an interesting question to ponder…so let’s say these individuals are evicted from the neighborhood…but now they decide to come into the doors of the church. Do we evict them like the neighborhood group did? Where can they be included?

    I have had the opportunity to develop a relationship with a convicted sex offender who also participated in a church that I was a part of. Of course, he was not allowed to be near the children; however, he was involved in serving and participated in bible studies. He also had challenges in finding a place to live because of his history. I must say this was a very unique church that was all about ministry to the outcasts and this is not possible in all churches….

    I know of another church that had the sex offender always had to be right near one of the elders…. this church did not advertise this individual’s background, yet they were able to keep the children safe by providing safe measures.

    I also had the opportunity to work with another convicted sex offender ( a teenager) who did not have any parents. Imagine trying to find a home for this child…..eventually I was able to locate a distant relative who embraced him with love….

    True that Forgiveness does not mean trust… But a lack of trust does not always entail eviction. In my opinion, the solution is not eviction. All individuals should have the opportunity to be rehabilitated.

  • Eric Bryant

    Great thoughts, David! Thanks for sharing them!

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