I have spent the last week or so working on a child sex abuse case at work. As a result, I have been reading a large number of judicial cases describing various forms of sexual abuse of children.
As I read these cases I can’t help but imagine how I would feel if my son were the victim of one of these people. My dominant response, I think, would be a desire to see the person punished. I would want justice, retribution, and vengence. I can quite easily imagine myself enjoying the thought that the abuser of my child was living a miserable existence in some prison.
There are, of course, two other responses to this. We could say that I ought to wish for the abusers repetence and redemption. The other response is to say that we ought to treat the abuser and come up with some regime of therapy that will “cure” him of what ever accounts for the urges and desires that motivated his crime.
I am wondering to what extent we can properly “medicalize” sin in order to treat it as a thereputic problem and to what extent this way of thinking and acting is inconsistent with the ideal of justice and repentence. At times we “solve” this problem by blurring things. We simply equate justice with vengence and dismiss it as an unworthy desire. We then blur repetence with therapy using pop-psychology, e.g. the atonment is a way of restoring self-esteem. At the same time, there is obviously something deeply WRONG with the people in the cases that I have been reading. They are not “normal,” and in a more reflective moment it does not seem beyond the realm of possibility that there is some miracle drug or regime of therapy that could make them less dangerous.
I am interested in what people might have to say about this, however, I hope that no one will try to turn this into yet another thread (yawn) on homosexuality.