This article does not make comfortable reading, by any stretch. In fact, it is horrific – because it is real. But it merely serves to illustrate, as if illustration were needed, that the human heart is deceitful above all things, and that education, background, charm and intelligence have never been accurate barometers of the morality of a life.
The problem with highlighting this is that it can merely serve to puff up the respectable who (rightly) say “I’m not like that”. Paedophilia is one of those crimes which makes us horrified and self-satisfied in almost equal measure. It is an easy tabloid target. But it is sickening nonetheless – and we should never be afraid to expose it (when there is good evidence). Too often people react as some did to Pat Cleary, the completely deceived wife of paedophile Roger Took. They don’t believe it, assuming they know the situation better. But destruction on this scale must never be smothered or whitewashed. It really is this bad. And as the policemen investigating Roger Took said, ‘this was not a job anyone with a small child found bearable’. As the father of youngish children, just reading this article was too much.
Most striking though is the sort of language such behaviour demands, despitethe moral vacuum and constant calls for understanding so prevalent in our society. This is what Took’s stepdaughter and mother of one of Took’s most regular victims had to say:
The last year has been hell. My trust and view of the world has changed forever… I can no longer leave my children in the care of other people without feeling suspicious of them. What remaining innocence I had is lost. I feel that under the surface of the world there is evil.
There it is – that word the world seems so reluctant to use. EVIL. Evil is a reality. But this is the shock of the Christian gospel. It agrees. Evil is real – and evil is evil. But it is only the Christian gospel has the power both to recognise reality AND to redeem reality. And in the end, that is the only hope we have in the face of such depravity. How can the closed universe of the atheist possibly complain about such an action?
Just a few minutes after posting this, I was reminded of this typically pithy but shockingly apt line by Oscar Wilde from his play A Woman of No Importance and uttered by Lord Illingworth:
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
It is shocking because it is true even of you and me who might claim to be saints, and of Roger Took who is rejected as sinner. But again, it is only the gospel that enables us to hold to both extremes at the same time.