A Time to Cheer or a Time to Weep?
A Time to Cheer or a Time to Weep?

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.
Proverbs 24:17,18 NKJV

The jaw bones on TV networks were in overdrive as the jury was on the verge of handing down its verdict in the trial of David Westerfield who had been accused of murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam. The girl's badly decomposed body was found nearly a month after she was abducted from her home.

Finally after a stretch of 10 days the jury revealed that it had found David Westerfield guilty of murder, kidnapping, and possession of child pornography.

A crowd of spectators outside San Diego Superior Court erupted with applause, cheers, and upraised fists signifying a "Right on!" attitude! The photographer produced a masterpiece in capturing the exuberant gathering on film.

Question time -- is it a time to cheer or rather should it be a time to grieve and weep?

Consider the following:

    California is notorious for paving the way for the sanctioning of alley cat moral standards. Hollywood via movies over time has ripped to shreds God's moral standards regarding human sexual expression and experience!

    It can be documented with a fair degree of accuracy that California was a primary spawning ground for the pornography industry which has now spread with the density of a deadly melanoma far beyond the borders of the Golden State and the United States of America!

    It was simply a matter of time before California style pornography consisting of simple images of males and females exhibiting a myriad of positions while engaged in sexual intercourse regressed to the bizarre and repugnant displays of sodomy, lesbianism, incest, rape, bestiality, and children in sexual activity!

    Legislatively our culture has hypocritically tried to draw a line between "legal" pornography and "illegal" pornography. In the middle of this fray has been something referred to as "1st Amendment rights." At this juncture it seems that we say pictures and/or films depicting children in sexual acts is pretty naughty stuff and ought not to be allowed but it's quite OK for adults to engage in whatever perverted form of sex their depraved imagination may manufacture -- further, it is permissible to traffic in this stuff for financial gain, particularly on the Internet where children can even get exposure to it in spite of so called "blocks."

    As with a ticking time bomb it was not long before we could reasonably expect an explosion. The seeds of pornography were bound to produce a bountiful crop with very unprofitable and undesirable results.

Victims may vary a bit as to the impact of a culture saturated with pornography as well as the sex stuff "legally" thrown at us by the print, TV, and movie media but in the end only one word describes what happens -- nothing short of tragedy due to the degradation and abuse of God's sacred gift of human sexuality!

For the parents of Danielle -- the extent of their being influenced by pornography may never be known but they demonstrated the philosophy which is the cornerstone of pornography -- "Sex is fun with anyone (or more than one anyone at a time), anywhere, and at anytime!" Danielle's father, Damon, had engaged in sexual activity with his wife's friends after the women had returned from a night of drinking -- the very night Danielle was abducted. (As reported by Anna Quinlin in August 26, 2002 issue of Newsweek, p. 64).

For David Westerfield -- somewhere he got infected with the porno virus in his home state, which as noted earlier is the historical spawning ground of pornography. And as the virus stirred passions in his unregenerate nature he finally sought to satisfy those passions.

Having been apprehended, tried, and found guilty of his crimes, a crowd in San Diego applauds and cheers -- and most likely those people reflected the mood of a majority in our society -- "Right on -- they really nailed him, and he's getting what he deserves!"

Perhaps a few -- likely, a very few will grieve for the following reasons:

    In looking at the sad and pathetic image of David Westerfield those very few will say, "There but for the grace of God go I!"

    Our society, which because of idiotic court rulings in the name of "1st Amendment rights," has permitted the proliferation of audio/visual materials of the most repugnant kind. And when a person comes under the influence of such moral garbage, is unable to resist those irrational raging passions, acts upon them in an act of violence inflicted on an innocent victim, is apprehended, tried in a court of "law," and found guilty, then we cheer and applaud that "justice is being done!" Looks like a rerun of ancient Rome when people who were considered "criminal" were thrown to the lions and the Coliseum erupted in thunderous applause and cheers.

    David Westerfield is one for whom Jesus Christ died on a cross -- just as Jesus died for each one of us, satisfying the divine penalty leveled against us for all the sins of which we are guilty. God's purpose for David Westerfield's life has been horribly short circuited, but in a spirit of repentance and seeking God's mercy through Jesus Christ, he can be forgiven even as he is punished on earth for his crimes -- it is unlikely our society will forgive him but rather in self righteous hypocritical fashion will celebrate his apprehension and punishment!

    It is not a time to cheer and celebrate but rather a time to grieve and pray because a state and a nation has permitted a situation to develop which has produced immeasurable tragedy in the life of David Westerfield and others such as he as well as in the lives of their victims and families of those victims!


    August 27, 2002
    by Clayton D. Harriger
    Elder in Full Connection
    W. PA Annual Conference
    The United Methodist Church
    and presently pastor of
    Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Gipsy PA

It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

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