Can You Love A Paedophile?
One of my oldest friends just got thrown in jail, after pleading guilty to paedophilia.
I sat in the court room for three days, and even though I wasn’t specifically involved (I was just there as a character reference), it was still one of the most intense weeks of my life.
I’ve consciously chosen to be as unconditionally loving as I can (which increases the more I heal, wonderfully).
Yet paedophilia is generally considered to be one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can do.
Is such a person even deserving of love, or really, should we chuck them in jail and throw away the key?
Obviously, people have been very seriously hurt here. Innocent children. With long lasting and major consequences.
I struggled with the choice I had to make for days: Should I stay in contact? Should I write to him and support him while he’s inside?
Ultimately though I realised there were only two possibilities that covered the entire universe.
- He was actually innocent (and pleaded guilty for other reasons – eg, inability to afford to fight the case weighed against likelihood of a worse sentence if he didn’t plead).
- He was guilty.
If he’s innocent and in jail, then yes, of course he deserves love and support.
If he’s guilty, then he may not deserve it, but he will certainly need it. Society needs it, if there’s to be any hope for his rehabilitation and not simply coming out of prison in an even worse state than he went in (as happens with such a high percentage of ex-cons).
And yet, as I write this I realise, I didn’t need to make it all so complicated.
It’s right there in the name; UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
My choosing to continue to love him has nothing to do with his actions. If it does then it’s not unconditional, is it?
However awful his past actions, however many people he’s hurt, however large the damage, I can choose to be loving.
An important caveat here – me loving him isn’t putting myself in any danger, or hurting me in any way. Being loving doesn’t mean standing in traffic, or otherwise neglecting to love ourselves first.
Of course, this also doesn’t mean I condone what’s happened. Or that he shouldn’t be in jail (if guilty). But while he’s responsible for his actions (and thus the consequences he’s now living with), I am responsible for mine.
And, for better or worse, I choose unconditional love, and yes I will be writing to him.
It never ceases to amaze me how much judgement messes things up for us, in terms of leading a better, more loving life.
[Sorry, I have been specifically requested not to publicly discuss any of the aspects of the case. Thank you for respecting this]