As recent events have shown, churches contain perverts. Churches contain perverts who are Christians. Churches contain perverts who are Christians who do real harm to others and to themselves in their sin. And pastors are called to confront such people, to protect the flock, and to ensure that civil authorities deal with them. But they are also called to pastor such perverts, to call them to repentance, to faith, and to lives that reflect their status in Christ. How is that done? Our theology of the Christian life needs to be able to address all Christians in their sin in a consistent manner.
When a man comes to your office and tells you he’s just violated a little girl and left her bleeding and half dead in a gutter, yes, you immediately phone the police. He has got to be punished by the civil authorities and taken out of society for the protection of the innocent. But then, when you visit him in prison as his pastor and he tells you he feels this compulsion that will make him commit the same crime if he is ever released, does your advice simply amount to encouraging him to reflect in deeper ways on the love of God and simply remember he is a magnificent ruin? I do hope not. And do you have more resources for him than simply telling him to reflect in deeper ways on his justification? I do hope so. The New Testament seems to offer a few.
Of course, we need to make sure that we do not allow the extremity of such a situation to lead us to fall into the error of teaching salvation by works. We should all know and make it clear that no-one goes to heaven just because he has ceased to indulge in internet pornography or to rape little girls or to kick his wife’s teeth down her throat. But is ‘Don’t think that not being a violent psychopath will save you’ all that the New Testament has to say to such a church member? I do not believe it is.