Soo… about that Karla Homolka chick. Yes — that Karla Homolka. She’s now volunteering at her children’s school.
On Facebook, when I posted the Breakfast Television article, most people started to write about forgiveness and redemption.
I had so much to say that I just wrote a blog post. Here’s my response:
I love you all and I — as always — appreciate your comments (even if we differ in opinion). This is one such instance. Thanks for your input but I disagree with most of you to an extent. Simply put, y’all aren’t being real. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Let me first say that I believe in forgiveness and redemption and conversion. I really do. So much so that I wrote a blog post about forgiveness almost two years ago (shameless plug).
“The vilest offender that truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receive.” “Grace, grace, God’s grace! Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace! Grace that is greater than all our sins.” “Grace will always be greater than sin. Calvary has proven it time and again. Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been — God’s grace will always be greater than sin.” I love the lyrics to these hymns and I believe them wholeheartedly. Thank God! I’m a sinner, and I will always be in need of God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness. Let’s make that clear.
I agree that God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness also extend to Karla Homolka (which truly gives us but a tiny glimpse into the depth and expanse of the loving heart of God, and gives us an idea of the extent of His mercy, because what she and Paul Bernardo did to Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French and Tammy Homolka was utterly reprehensible (read: sick and wicked), and only a loving, merciful Father can forgive all that).
I also agree that at the crux of this conversation is whether or not we truly believe in conversion. But I would also add, what do we do with the converted convict?
I ask you this: if your child were a student at Greaves, would you be okay with this? (I know for me, my immediate gut reaction would be “H-E-double hockey sticks no!!! I pay too much for my children to go to school and be wrapping flowers with a convicted serial killer!”).
Imagine the scenario: Your child comes home and says that they wanted to go to Timmy’s house to play.
Child: “Can I go to Timmy’s house to play with our new fidget spinners?”
Parent: “Who’s Timmy?”
Child: “Timmy is in my grade 1 class.”
Parent: “Who are his parents?”
Child: “Umm… Ms. Homolka?”
Would you let your child go to Timmy’s house for a play date? Should my kids play at her house because she’s been “redeemed”? No? Hmm… But what happened to all of this talk of “forgiveness?”
To those of you who are parents, and those of you who are soon to be parents, and those of you who one day wish to be parents, I HIGHLY doubt that you would be okay with sending your child over to Ms. Homolka’s house for a play date (I know I sure wouldn’t). It’s not because we don’t believe in forgiveness. It’s because (at least for me): 1) I don’t know the extent of her rehabilitation 2) I don’t trust her.
As I wrote in my blog post about forgiveness above: “[S]he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Arguably, none of us do. Forgiveness is not earned. It’s not about merit or desert. It’s simply given. Again, you don’t earn forgiveness. [But you do] earn trust. No one is owed forgiveness either. Forgiveness is given. For –give –ness. It’s in the word. Trust is earned.” And I do not trust her.
She is forgiven, but she should not hope to live a normal life. A normal life, working with children – those are privileges that you unfortunately lose when you are a convict. If I were ever to go to prison (God forbid!) and come out (by God’s grace!!), I hope to get a job. I hope to maybe even get married. But I should not hope to become the typical mother – one who wraps flowers and knits and talks about puppies and dogs at my child’s school. Nah. Grace is letting her children live a normal life. Karla? She does not get to live a normal life. That’s one of the consequences of being an active participant in the rape of your own sister (don’t even get me started on that. If someone raped and killed my sister, I would, with God’s help, eventually forgive her, but she sure as hell does not get to live a normal happy life while I baste in my pain).
If Greaves said that they would be hiring a lesbian teacher, and if you had children at that school, many of you would have raised hell and/or pulled your children out of the school. Where is the grace there?
If it wasn’t Karla Homolka but it was Paul Bernardo himself, would we be just as gracious?
What about a child molester who has done his time in prison and is now free and has gone to therapy… Can a child molester come to your child’s school to wrap flowers? Will we still be just as enthusiastic to talk about forgiveness and conversion then? (Note, I’ve read that pedophiles have a high rate of recidivism and actually cannot be rehabilitated. Don’t quote me though).
I also can’t help but wonder if white privilege plays a role…
Having a serial killer interact with my children does not sit well with me and never will, no matter how rehabilitated and forgiven she is.
Maybe I misunderstand forgiveness. If my husband told me he was addicted to porn, by God’s grace I’d forgive him. But I’d also put a block on certain websites on our computer. It’s not all “honey, it’s all okay now. Go your own way and sin no more.” I’m going to put up safeguards. Doesn’t mean I don’t forgive him. Doesn’t mean he isn’t remorseful. Doesn’t mean I’ll divorce him. Doesn’t mean he can’t get help. Doesn’t mean he can’t do a 180. Doesn’t mean God can’t do a work and work a change in his life. Doesn’t mean that I’ll hold it over his head ad infinitum and inject it into every argument we have. It just means that trust is broken, and perhaps irreparably so. That’s the consequence. This is why people divorce after such episodes. Not because of the lack of forgiveness or conversion but because of the lack of trust.
This would have been a completely different story if the parents had known that Karla Homolka had children at the school, had known that Karla would be participating in school activities and if they knew Karla Homolka herself (i.e. the character behind and the alleged conversion of the convict). If some of them attend church with her, my hope is that they would vouch for her (i.e. “Go away Breakfast Television. There’s no news here. She’s been a member of my church for x years. Her kids and my kids know each other. She poses no threat” etc.). She may very well be a nice lady and a great mother in real life. But it’s because we do not know her that we do not trust her. All we truly know is that she helped rape and kill three young women, including her sister. I can’t blame the parents for being up in arms.
This is not good PR for the church, particularly because the church (writ large – as in the Christian church and not only the Adventist church) has an unfortunate track record of being soft on criminals and wishy-washy on wrong doing under the gutless guise of forgiveness. We welcome the child molesters and we turn a blind eye to the men – some of them pastors and elders (*GASP*) — who sleep with our daughters and sisters, but we censor and disfellowship the unwed mothers.
My issue is that we, as a church and as church people, often advocate for forgiveness but leave common sense behind. I believe faith and practicality can co-exist. Often, however, church people talk as if the two are mutually exclusive.