Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sin is Ugly

Warning: the following video contains profanity and cruelty. View with caution. (ht to Walt Mueller for the video link)

For ten minutes straight, a group of teenage kids harass and berate an elderly woman on the school bus, calling her horrible names and bringing her to tears.

The bus driver does nothing. The other students do nothing. There are apparently no consequences or reprimands for their abhorrent behavior.

I'll admit, I couldn't watch the entire 10 minutes. I felt sick to my stomach from it. Then I felt angry, almost rage. Who do these kids think they are, that they can treat someone who bears the image of God in such a deplorable manner? The YouTube comments on the video share this rage, with most commenters coming to the conclusion that extreme violence needs to be meted out to these bullies.

Then I recall the words of Scripture in Isaiah 53:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

Jesus once told his followers to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Paul--one of the worst bullies and perpetrators of violence before his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road--wrote in Romans 12 to bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Sin is ugly. It can make the most idealistic youth worker cynical and hardened when we encounter it in the teenagers we love. There is an appropriate anger to sin and injustice, one that prompts us to learn to do right, to seek justice, to defend the oppressed, to take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1). Yet there also must be room for grace, and a willingness to love those who persecute us, even when those persecutors are the very teens we serve. 

I can't extend this grace in my own strength; I need the hands of the Wounded Healer to touch my own heart and allow me to both love my enemy and to mourn with those who mourn

I weep with Karen the bus monitor. I weep for the students on that bus who expressed such horrible mistreatment of God's creation. I weep for those on the bus who remained silent in the face of injustice. I weep for the angry commenters whose only answer to violence is more violence. I weep with those who suffer injustice daily, but will never get the YouTube viral video to show the world their pain and heartache.


  1. I haven't seen it, I don't think I could bear to. But I have heard 70,000 has been raised for her to have a holiday, and the kids involved will be saught out and reprimanded.

    Whilst not taking away anything from this victory for the poor woman concerned - in some ways, it's terrible that videos like this have to go viral in order for something to be done. Would anything have been done had it not received huge public interest?

    There are plenty to weep for. One day, the weeping will stop and justice will be done. Until then, all we can do is weep...and pray.

  2. thanks for sharing.