i) Doug Wilson is in a pickle over the way he handled the case of two pedophiles at church. Peter Leithart is also implicated in the mess. I'm not going to discuss all twists and turns of that controversy.
I'll just use it to illustrate a general point: I think some Christians are confused or conflicted about how to deal with cases like this. After all, there's a sense in which Christianity is a religion of second chances. We believe in redemption. Forgiveness. So what about that?
ii) There's a sense in which God is in a position to forgive people we can't. For one thing, God knows who is truly contrite, and who is faking it. We don't.
iii) Which brings me to a related point: even if I'm prepared to forgive you, that doesn't mean I'm prepared to trust you. Forgiveness is about the past–trust is about the future. Those aren't interchangeable concepts.
Take a comparison: suppose I'm a pastor. We need to hire a new church treasurer. We advertise the job and get several applicants. One has an impressive resume. MBA from a top college. Experience as a CPA and investment banker. If anything, he's overqualified. Yet there's an odd gap in his resume.
I, in agreement with the church board, have criminal background checks performed on all job applicants. Turns out, this applicant was convicted of embezzlement.
As a result, we don't hire him. Instead, we hire another applicant without the Park Avenue resume, but who has a squeaky clean reputation.
The applicant who was turned down phones me a few days later wondering why he didn't get the job. I explain. He complains that that's unchristian. He tells me that he committed embezzlement before he was saved. He converted in prison. Now he's turned over a new leaf.
Well, I wish him all the best. I hope that's true. But, honestly, it's a self-serving claim. I have no independent evidence to confirm his claim. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it would be foolhardy to do so. I have no reason to believe he's trustworthy, while I do have reason to believe he may not be trustworthy.
Moreover, it's not even a case of trusting him with my own money. As a pastor, I have a fiduciary responsibility for the money which parishioners contribute.
In addition, the fact that he wants to go right back to the same kind of work that got him into trouble in the first place is suspicious. At best, that exposes him to temptation, at his weakest. At worst, that indicates a lack of sincerity. If I said I was a recovering gambler, would I apply for a job at a casino?
iv) From what I've read, pedophilia has high rates of recidivism, although that's complicated by the fact that there's now a movement to mainstream pedophilia, so the evidence will be suppressed. It's just asking for trouble to give someone like that a second bite at the apple.
I'll make two other points:
v) From what I've read, Wilson defends his conduct in part by appealing to the fact that the judge approved of the marriage. But given Wilson's disdain for the moral wisdom of public officials, he can hardly take cover in the opinion of the judge. At best, that just means there's blame to go around. It doesn't get him off the hook. It merely means additional people are at fault.
vi) He also speaks as if pedophilia is a psychological condition to be treated by counseling. That's sadly similar to the Church of Rome, which has viewed predatory priests as a psychotherapeutic issue.
Wilson is a man who's done a lot of good. It's a pity to see him show such poor pastoral judgment. And that's aggravated by his refusal to accept legitimate criticism.