church law - Mt Carmel Ministries

The Sexual Offender
The Law
The Church
A sexual offense includes such crimes as rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse.1 Another source writes,
“What classifies someone as a sex offender varies by legal jurisdiction and culture. In the U.S. a person
can convicted for prostitution, obscene content in the form of a text message, sex with a minor, child
molestation, rape and various other sexual assault convictions.”2
According to the same source, U.S. has 747,408 sexual offenders.3 265,000 are under
supervision.4 Ninety-three percent of male youngsters knew their attackers while 80% of
female youngsters knew their attackers.5 Delaware has the highest rate for sexual offenders at
517 for every 100,000.6 Pennsylvania has the lowest with 94 for every 100,000.7
Must a sexual offender register? “Sex offender registration is a system in various states
designed to allow government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex
offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences. In some jurisdictions,
such as the United States registration is accompanied by notification requirements. The
information in the registry is made available to the general public via a website or other means.
In many jurisdictions registered sex offenders are subject to additional restrictions, including on
housing. Those on parole or probation may be subject to restrictions that don't apply to other
parolees or probationers. Sometimes these include (or have been proposed to include)
restrictions on being in the presence of minors, living in proximity to a school or day care
center, owning toys or other items of interest to minors, or using the Internet.”8
The law is perfectly clear on the seriousness and heinousness of this particular felon. The
percentages for repeated sexual offenders to commit the same felony are less than 5% (2.7%).
However, a sexual offender may commit a different felony. That percentage is approximately
What about “jail house conversions?” A sarcastic internet post quips,
“A sudden shift in belief systems (usually finding Jesus, but also Allah and
probably every other Deity) after a period of incarceration. Usually a ploy for
leniency with the legal system. Oddly, given the separation of church and state
that we're supposed to have in this country, it does sometimes seem to have a
positive effect when going to talk to the judge/parole board. Everyone from
your local meth dealer to Manuel Noriega, Dictator of Panama have tried this
one, making it one of the truly "oldest ones in the book".
Crack Dealer: Your Honor, I found Jesus in the Dade County Jail.
Judge: Big deal, this is Florida, every third guy in there is named Jesus.... 10
Some seem to advocate that if a person has a genuine salvation experience then they are
forgiven. Therefore, if the heavenly Judge forgives, then the human courts should follow suit.11
There are genuine regeneration testimonies. Men and women where churches have gone into the
prison system to share Christ Jesus as their only hope of forgiveness, removal of guilt, and
freedom EVEN though continuing to serve the God-ordained sentence.
But what happens when the sexual offender is released? They have unusual restrictions placed
upon them. Even though the percentage of repeating the same sin is less than 5%, there seems to
be the philosophy to remove the temptation that could trigger an episode through these
Is there anything the church can do? Is there anything that church must do? How does the
church protect the children entrusted to their care? How should a church welcome the sexual
offender? Can a sexual offender minister in the church? And if so, to what extent? Who in the
church should know that a sexual offender is attending the church?
It is not uncommon for the church
to take its cue from the Ostrich –
sticking our heads in the sand
communicates the message of
rejection to the offender, fear to the
congregation and of the insurance
company, and worse of all disbelief
in the Bible that declares, “such
were some of you.”12
Wise, careful, discernment of any given situation which involves a felon, regardless of the felon,
but in particular the sexual offender is absolutely essential.
The church will find itself needing to appreciate the laws of the land and the Law of the Lord.
Trying to tip the scales out of fear will be the church’s insurance company. They will oppose the
church knowingly accepting and welcoming a sexual offender. The insurance company will
want to avert a potential lawsuit by church members or even outsiders whose children attend.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Insurance companies have a legitimate place in our society. However, when they dictate to the
local church what they will insure and the threat of dropping coverage is cited, the insurance
company is wrong. And so is the church if they capitulate. It is no different than the Pharisees
demanding Peter stop preaching.13
One might argue that “once a sexual offender, always a sexual offender.” Or, “the church must
protect those under its care.”
Once an offender….is a secular approach that most self-help groups use.14 As cited earlier,
sexual offenders were part and parcel of the Corinthian church. Paul reminds them how they
changed and how change is maintained.
As a postscript: Prison rehabilitation produces conformation, not transformation. I would think
if a good relationship was developed with the parole board of a local prison and the parole
officers enlisting their support for the church to provide the accountability would be welcomed.
In many cases, the parole offices are overloaded and overwhelmed that they do not know when
the sexual offender has committed a crime until the police come to investigate and question the
parole officer.
The church is responsible to protect its membership. But it is equally responsible for the
salvation of lost and dying souls.
So can a church become involved in the life of a sexual offender? I think the local church should
and I propose some guidelines. You may ask, “Have you even seen this practiced in a local
church?” My response is, “No,” because most local churches would shy away. Here are some
suggestions that may provide some guideposts if you consider the sexual offender worth
evangelizing, disciplining, mentoring, and training for service.
Acts 4:18
AA in particular
Let me begin by offering some general principles before I suggest the
1. Sexual offenders, like other sinners, need Christ. This might be obvious, but the
heinousness of their sin can overshadow this great need.
2. Sexual offenders, like other sinners, need discipleship. Their propensity to commit a
different felony (70%) can be greatly reduced through discipleship.
3. Sexual offenders, like other sinners, need service opportunities. Although addressing
stealing, the thief’s antidote is to work with their hands and return to others. 15
4. Take advantage of any opportunities for training in working with sexual addicts, not
necessarily for certification but awareness and networking.
5. Limit the knowledge of the sexual offender’s identity to trust, wise, mature, and selfcontrolled spiritual leaders. These same attributes apply to the leader’s wife.
A. Gather as much data as possible from the offender on the nature of the sexual offense.
You are not looking for gory details, but to sense the intensity and frequency of the
sexual crime. In some situations, the legal system seeks to make examples of the sexual
offender by administering hefty prison sentences as a determent to others. In some
cases, the time does not match the crime. Nevertheless, the time given must be served.
We are not to sit in judgment over the legal system, nor unnecessarily side in pity with
the sexual offender.
B. If the sexual offender is willing, secure a “Release of Information” form.16 You want to
initiate contact with his or her parole officer17 regarding general and specific limitations
or restrictions. Later, if and when this relationship develops, the PO18 may become a
wellspring of counsel for situations not anticipated.
C. In and around the church, due your diligence to comply with the legal requirements for
the sexual offender. If he/she cannot be around children, then opportunities of service
Ephesians 4:28
ROI for short in the legal world
You should be able to do so with the ROI
Parole Officer
when children are present should be prohibited and other service opportunities
D. Begin to network the offender with an older person of the same gender. There are two
purposes that might be accomplished: [1] Fellowship. Being labeled as a sexual
offender brings a personal and social stigma. Isolation can set in and then a potential
downward spiral fueled by frustration and anger. The person might be screaming
inside, “What more must I do to prove I have changed!” [2] Accountability.
E. Consider general public opportunities of service like ushering, stuffing or folding
bulletins, working with the male maintenance staff on the interior or exterior of the
F. Inside or outside the church create environments to work with other mature individuals.
G. At the first sign of inappropriate words or behavior, bring the potential offense to the
offender’s attention with counsel on how to respond next time and/or coach the
mentor, and/or temporarily remove the offender from the service opportunity.,
H. Keep the lines of communication open with the PO. The PO has experience and would
be able to share insight and answer questions.
I. The sexual offender is required to register as a sex offender. SOR19 is open and available
to the public. Although from a human perspective this sin is highly public and offensive,
disclosing such information to the church would seem inappropriate and almost
punitive causing undue alarm, unnecessary suspicion, and unnecessary scrutiny if other
accountability measures are in place. The church would be obligated to disclose people
who have been arrested for driving under the influence or fraud or possession of an
illegal substance.
I am confident that you the reader may have unanswered questions or the article may have
spun more questions.
If I accomplished the goal that your thinking has been challenged to anticipate this reality in
your church or helping a sexual offender who feels they are “locked out” of the church they are
attending, then I achieved my writing goal.
Sex Offender Registry
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor £effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were
washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Less we forget and become a Pharisee!
1 Corinthians 6:9-11