Pastoral Perspectives

Guilty As Charged

For most of the men who are being charged with paying for sex with an underage girl, the verdict is yet to be out as they have chosen to claim trial rather than to plead guilty. Regardless of what the Court’s judgment will be, for these men whose names have been made public as well as for the girl, they will still have to account for their clandestine activity. This is because while prostitution is generally permitted by the law in Singapore, it is most unlikely that one’s spouse or family member would condone paying for sexual services. After all, there is a moral law within our consciences and in society that with regards to this matter, calls for higher moral standards.

Thus, the men are expected to seek forgiveness, especially from their spouses and family members for their transgression. One also hopes that there would be repentance from the teenage girl and that she will experience healing and be reconciled with her parents. It would undoubtedly only lead to deeper hurt and greater tragedies if she continues to ply her trade.

However, it is another matter whether in their heart of hearts, these men and the girl are truly remorseful for their misdeeds. Perhaps some may rue their luck for being caught. Others may excuse themselves as a moment of folly or blame others for their actions. Some may simply conclude they need to be even more deliberate in covering their tracks when they seek to satisfy their sexual appetites the next time. Indeed, one will not be surprised to find that many more may be inclined to lead a double life if not for the high stakes that comes with being exposed or getting into trouble with the law. Furthermore, the Bible reminds us that people will increasingly be characterised by misplaced love for self, money and pleasure rather than love for God (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Admittedly, it is very easy to become self-righteous and to think that we will never sink so low in our moral conduct or convictions. Here, we need to be mindful that when it comes to measuring up to God’s moral standards, none of us can plead ignorance or innocence (Romans 1:19-20; 3:23). While we may not be guilty of sexual immorality, we have all been guilty of pride or malice or greed, just to name a few sins.

Moreover, whether we are Christians or not, we are all prone to idolatry. In this case, sin is simply our stubborn insistence not to worship God. Although our idols are not made of wood or stone, they are craven in the image of ourselves and created things. Instead of glorifying God and rightly giving of ourselves in worship unto Him, we idolise ourselves and persistently put self-love above the love of God and others. Unfortunately, when this happens, we are just subjecting ourselves to a vicious cycle of desperation and sure destruction because whatever we are seeking for will never seem to satisfy. The truth is nothing and no one can ever replace God and our need to worship Him.

Jesus clearly says that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9:12). Unless we confess we are guilty of idolatry and rejecting God, we will find ourselves remaining in this sorry state and eventually stand before God’s judgment throne as a condemned sinner. But thanks be to God that He “demonstrated his love to us in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ has died for us” (Romans 5:8). Imagine that! We rightfully deserve the penalty for our sins against God. But even before we are ready to repent and acknowledge our need for God to save us from our mess and sinful nature, Jesus who was without sin had already willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty for us.

This being the case, then the gift of forgiveness and righteousness is truly a gift of God’s grace. In order to receive and experience it, we need to acknowledge our sinfulness before God in humility and faith and begin to worship Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Indeed, no sin is too severe until it is beyond God’s forgiveness. Unless, of course our hearts remain hardened against God and we rather not have Him in our lives.

And for Christians who stumble and fail God here and there, our response need not be to hide from God or to pretend that all is well. Rather, let us cast ourselves in hope upon the mercy of God and once again walk in the righteousness that is given to all who belongs to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 10:19-23). After all, pleading ignorance or innocence was never the way that made us right with God in the first place.

Pastor Edwin Wong

April 29, 2012