Jesus Died For BTK

This is a blog from 2005.

One night, adrift in the anxiety-ridden haze I sometimes like to call "sleep" I laid paralyzed...afraid that the BTK killer would escape from prison and come and kill my family and myself. "Why don't they just kill him?" I wondered in a panic...writhing over the fact that 5 consecutive life sentences is not as certain as lethal injection.

This past year I have felt less safe than ever before, and reading the media coverage of BTK brings it all to a head. He broke into people's homes, lied to them, said he would not hurt them, tortured them mentally and physically, and murdered them. It could never happen to us...that sort of thing happens to other people. But who are we all but other people?

I want this pig to fry. I feel like I would gladly take my place turning the handle that roasted him in a spit over the pits of hell. I want him to feel every last inch of the torture he inflicted on these poor people, their loved ones, and his own deceived family. And yet...according to the tenets of my religion, my faith...I am called to love this man. I am called to pray earnestly for his salvation. His sin is separation from God...and there are not greater separations...there is just separation.

When I was younger I felt very pious for understanding this tenet of the Christianity so easily. It was such a no-brainer. I felt unbridled joy when I heard a rumor that cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was saved while in prison and actually killed while on his way to a Bible study. I wondered if Adolph Hitler had a flash of understanding right before the bullet ricocheted through his head and if we would someday be surprised to see him walking with Jesus.

Now that I have my own family it is harder. It is easy to preach forgiveness when the threat is abstract...easy to have strong moral ideals when there is nothing threatening your security. Christianity is really the strangest, most misunderstood religion. It is so often rejected on the basis of "hatred" and "intolerance" but what other religion lets you off scot-free just by believing? What other God would pay you the same wage for an hour of work as for a whole day? The amazing thing about Christianity is not that people go to hell; the amazing thing is that no one has to.

I don't know why God chose to do it this way...I don't know why the evil can go unpunished simply by the shed blood of Jesus. But I do know that blood covers me, even when my own attitudes fall short. Because of that blood I may someday walk arm in arm with serial killers, and because of that blood I might not even mind. It's strange and senseless to my finite mind, and yet I know that If God could be understood by us puny humans then he could hardly be God.

Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, was quoted as saying “A dark side is there, but now I think light is beginning to shine...Hopefully someday God will accept me.” He already is now up to Rader to accept that God accepts him. And up to us to accept that God accepted him.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.