Grace and the unrepentant rapist

I know it’s probably not in good form to only blog once or twice a month then come out of nowhere with a post about what grace might look like in the case of the Stanford student who raped an unconscious woman, but it’s just been weighing on me all day.

It weighs on me for a numbers of reasons:

  1. The rapist does not acknowledge his crime of rape, rather is sorrowful that he got drunk and was “promiscuous.”
  2. The survivor of the assault’s statement shows how serious his action was. To say she has suffered would be to put it lightly (follow the link and read the statement).
  3. He got six months in jail and probation when a jury found him guilty on three counts of sexual assault. The judge was concerned that a harsher sentence would ruin his life.

The Stanford student doesn’t own up to the fact that he raped a woman.

And I can’t tell you how mad it makes me that in 2016 a judge is more concerned with the future of a kid who raped an unconscious woman while drunk than with the victim of the rape, in part because he was a star swimmer with a bright future.

In a case where justice should have been clear, where punishment should have been swift and heavy, where there should have been real remorse for his crime – he gets six months and does not apologize.

This is what the victim says about that, at the end of her statement:

“You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.”

I’m sure my rage pales in comparison to what she has felt over the past year. Really, it would be good for us all to read her letter. I think that to read her speak about what she experienced honors her courage to speak out, honors her voice in this situation where so many are voiceless.

This stupid question has been burning in the back of my mind today though, because I’ve been learning about grace in the past year and figuring out how to receive it and give it.

Oh, it’s such a stupid, dumb, irrelevant question! How do you show grace to an unrepentant rapist? You don’t, okay? You punish him hard.

I’m not asking because I’m gracious. I’m asking because I really need to know.

The question isn’t even how do you show grace to a repentant rapist, but instead one who won’t even say he did it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.


He should have gotten a harsher sentence.

Oh, he really should have.

Grace doesn’t let us off easy. We do actually have to learn from our mistakes and grow from them. A long prison sentence might do that. I don’t know what else would.

Oh, but there’s Jesus. As cliché as it might seem, I just keep seeing Jesus on the cross, taking the sins of the world and saying, “Yep, for him, too.”

God isn’t the one who pats us on the back after we horrifically offend the dignity of another person. That isn’t the moment where he gently says, “Not like that. Try again.”

I’m grateful for those moments. But when I or anyone else dehumanize another person, God convicts us. He prods us and tells us what we did was wrong and that we need to make it right.

But he also opens a door and tells us there’s a way to live differently, not perfectly but walking alongside the One who loves so well that it rubs off on us and makes us more truly loving.

That’s grace, I think. It’s the smack that tells us we’ve got to stop what we’ve been doing and waits for us to sober up before it offers another way.

I am still so mad at that student. I’m mad at that judge. I’m mad that the justice system I live under produced such unjust results, so I’m praying through my teeth that he’ll know that what he did was wrong and that the weight of it will sink in.

And then that God will show him another way.

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