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Can Ariel Castro be Forgiven?

( [email protected] ) May 13, 2013 03:27 PM EDT
Ariel Castro is being charged for holding three women captive in his home for about a decade, for raping these women, and for kidnapping Jocelyn, the six-year-old little girl that he fathered during that time. The Ohio prosecutor may also charge Castro with counts of murder for the brutal abuse that lead to the death of his captives' unborn children. If Castro were to be found guilty of these charges, he could potentially face the death penalty.
Ariel Castro appears in Cleveland Municipal court Thursday, May 9, in Cleveland. Castro was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. Ariel Castro was charged while his brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro, were held but faced no immediate charges. Tony Dejak/AP

Ariel Castro is being charged for holding three women captive in his home for about a decade, for raping these women, and for kidnapping Jocelyn, the six-year-old little girl that he fathered during that time. The Ohio prosecutor may also charge Castro with counts of murder for the brutal abuse that lead to the death of his captives' unborn children. If Castro were to be found guilty of these charges, he could potentially face the death penalty.

Each of these women were abducted in their youth and held captive for years on end. Castro allegedly chained the victims and locked them in a basement until eventually allowing them to live in separate bedrooms of his 1,400 square-foot home. These women were rarely allowed outside during their captivity. They said they were brainwashed and disciplined severely so that they would not try to escape. Castro would serve them cake on the anniversary of their kidnappings, a reminder of what must have been the most terrifying years of their lives.

A decade after her abduction, Amanda Berry mustered up the courage to escape her captivity. Thankfully, she was heard screaming for help by a neighbor, and soon after used his phone to call the police. Despite Amanda's successful escape, Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus stayed inside the home for fear of their captor's wrath. The women were malnourished when rescued, and one of the victims checked into a hospital immediately. Castro is accused of physically abusing these women and intentionally causing Michelle Knight to miscarry on several occasions. He allegedly starved her and punched her repeatedly in the stomach during pregnancy in an attempt to kill the children in her womb.

My heart is sick when I read about this story. The reality of what those women experienced, in even but one day of their captivity, is horrifying. Castro could potentially face years in prison and even the death penalty, if these allegations are true. Some might say that justice would be served if this man were to suffer immensely for the crimes that he may have committed against these women and children. Our hearts might even be inclined to rejoice at his suffering. We might wonder, could Ariel Castro ever be forgiven?

Yes, he can. I hope he will be. Though our hearts may cry out for punishment and vengeance for these crimes, we are exhorted by the word of God to remember Calvary, where Jesus bled and died to save the souls of men.

None can deny the evil of these heinous charges against Ariel Castro - and the Bible doesn't ask us to overlook them or to minimize such horrendous things. Rather, Scripture clearly portrays the wickedness that exists in our hearts and exalts the grace of God that supersedes our sin and our propensity toward evil (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). It is because we are capable of such terrible things that God, in His great mercy, sent His Son to die on the cross on our behalf, paying the penalty that we were due for our sin. While we were yet sinners, Romans 5:8 says, Christ died for us.

The Bible is full of such stories of redemption, where the love of God brings murderers, adulterers, prostitutes, and thieves from their depraved state into His marvelous light. Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, was persecuting the church to death when he came to know Christ (see Acts 22:4-5). David, a man after God's own heart, had Bathsheba's husband killed in an attempt to cover up his affair with her. The woman at the well had been married multiple times and was currently living with a man who was not her husband when Jesus offered her salvation (see John 4). These men and women had committed horrendous sins, and yet God was still gracious to offer them forgiveness.

John 1:12 says that those who receive Christ are given the right to become children of God and are born again to an eternal, living hope. Hallelujah - there is no record of wrongs for the redeemed in Christ! Because of His grace, we can be wiped clean of all of our sin and stand blameless before the Father.

So, as we read the the horrific details of these Ohio kidnappings, we should remember that we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against evil (see Ephesians 6:12). We should grow a healthy hatred for sin, and hope that God's kindness might lead this man to repentance. Hopefully, these women will be able to recover from the years of abuse and neglect. Hopefully, Jocelyn will grow up to be a healthy and confident young woman - and, hopefully, Ariel Castro will come to know the saving grace of Christ.