Thinkings: On the Robert Hughes' of the world

Thinkings: On the Robert Hughes' of the world

Strolling around Bangkok, Thailand, one can't help but entertain thoughts that all the middle-aged white men you see are there to procure sex from girls or young men. For all you know, these men could be here on business and love their families back home; they could be working for NGOs, they could be Elizabeth Gilberts... 

But these detestable thoughts accost you because you also know that South East Asia is a hub for the sex trafficking trade. You have heard of a case in which a Russian oligarch has escaped scot-free after abusing young boys and girls. 

There is rage in you, so you are quick to judge all the white men based on this information. And while it makes you feel sick, and sicker still to think 'officials' might pardon such acts based on a person's status or finances, you cannot help but also feel desolation to the core of your humanity. 

For what kind of person, in what state of being, would feel the need to fulfill these lurid desires and cause harm to a child who has unwittingly succumbed to the trade through no choice of their own?

In light of this week's story about Beate's work with the girl-victims of sex offenses in Cambodia, news of former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes' (not to be confused with the other Robert Hughes) arrest in Britain after extensive police inquiries brings the issue closer to home. 

Crimes against girls and children are universal and the perpetrators creep into the most unexpected places... from the streets of Thailand to Cambodian villages to sitcom sets. 

Back when the allegations against Hughes were first aired, GWAS posted this story which looked at the landscape in Australia: the sort of cultural setting in which such habits of humanity might manifest. It talks about society's laissez faire attitude toward children's exposure to sexual material – the assorted sordid stuff at the newsagent and the bus stop and the Sexpo advertisements on the side of the road created by adults who let their own desires come to the fore and don't care so much for the kids' sake.

I cannot imagine the challenges around raising a girl or child in this cultural context: fearing for her welfare and the world in which she lives. For my part, I think it's wise to teach them that not everything in the world is agreeable, and lots of what we encounter and hear about verges on vulgar, and that these are all just varying degrees on the spectrum of human depravity. The man that commits heinous things against girls (and boys, for that matter) must be truly sick: how did he get there? 

I have been sick, too. That manifested in a different way. Given the right conditions, the right personality type, some hidden issues that have not been addressed, things can go terribly wrong. And the shame, the guilt, the self-disgust that follows – this incredible burden of operating under the knowledge that you took the bait and ran with it, straight into Satan's hands... well, foolish doesn't quite cover it.

And there is only one person who can pull you out of the pit. Jesus. And in light of His overwhelming love and forgiveness, mercy and grace, you are restored to more than your former self – but first you must give it all up and say, 'I am corrupted from within and no longer want any part of sin'. Freed of yourself so you can truly live, you are ready to run the race. All the lesser pleasures of the world amount to nothing in His presence. All of your former crimes against Him are forgotten in His presence. 

The 'other Robert Huges' was once in an almost car crash. "Try as I might, I can dredge nothing up, not even the memory of fear," he later recalled. And it is like that when you are called by Christ to abandon what was and embrace what can be with Him by your side. Your sole goal is to please Him. The self-forgetting is ongoing, and it favours Him.

And what did He say? 'Do not judge others and God will not judge you; do not condemn others and God will not condemn you; forgive others and God will forgive you. Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands – all that you can hold. The measure that you use for others is the one that God will use for you' (Luke 6:37-38). 

He loved justice, hated oppression and crime, but he was also merciful to the end, taking upon himself all the world's sin. A redeemer of man's fallen state who gets to the root of the problem, attends to it, and then allows the tree to bear good fruit . If people are committing terrible crimes, the rottenest of stinky fruit, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the root. 

In a world gone warped, "liberation" has come to mean sexual freedom rather than the romance of knowing one's creator. It's harder to make the argument that 'sexual sin' leads people into a depraved state that tears at the fabric of who they were created to be. Some of us are called to take a vocal stand against those forces that threaten to lead our young people astray. How do we do so in a non-judgemental way? Point to truth.

The best we can do is demonstrate what is good, lovely and true, and hope amongst hope that anyone who hurts "these little ones" will get their just desserts. We must do our best to protect them from the evils that lurk about in the world. But insofar as placing blame for the state of humanity, the corruption of the soul of man: the view must be broader.

We have to believe in God’s sovereignty... in all things, not just what we do and don’t like, our personal preferences, the gradients of sin. For, what of those responsible for hideous crimes that are never revealed? What of that man? God will ultimately not let anyone go unpunished, either in this life or the next. But I cannot think of a worse punishment than to feel exiled from God in this life, for it is He who meets all our needs and sin that robs us of His blessings.  When we choose sin instead of Him, we lose every time.

"While living under his father's authority the Prodigal Son was well off," writes The Word for Today. "But in search of enlightenment and entertainment, he ended up in a pigsty. Yes, he was forgiven and welcomed back home, but he lost a lot in the process."

The justice system is riddled with, yes, some truly evil individuals, but also lots of broken people who got that way, not necessarily through fault of their own but through a combination of people, circumstances and their own inability to self-examinate in light of God's truth. If we don't know truth, we cannot discern what is false. 

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight,' says Proverbs 3:5-6; 'For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,' said Jesus.

 We have to look at the bigger context. Stand back and say, “How did this person get this way?". It is they who have to live with the consequences, however they may come – whether they choose Christ to redeem them or not is not a choice anyone else can make. But Jesus said, "All those who make themselves great [meaning, lauding it over another] will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great'.

 He also said, 'there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 respectable people who do not need to repent'. For the part of the Christian, all life starts with the recognition that people and things are as they are because of the world's fallen state, which is in dire need of Jesus' love and light. And it is only Him working in us from which good things come – our innate desire to do God's will unhindered by our own shortcomings or the world's many snares. With that, nothing can compare.

"I, the Lord, will be your eternal light; The light of my glory will shine on you. Your days of grief will come to an end... Your shame and disgrace are ended. You will live in your own land and your wealth will be doubled. Your joy will last forever." 
Isaiah 60: 19-20

Girl With a Satchel