Disease vs. Sin

Cardinal Wilfred Napier has made a rather interesting—though certainly not uncommon—claim. He says that paedophilia (in certain circumstances) is not a crime, but a disease that needs to be treated. Here is the full quote:

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

He is referring to people who were abused themselves as children. But a huge problem appears in his last sentence. Which human being is not damaged? We all are damaged, not only by our past, but even more so by our sin nature. We are corrupt at our core, and if “damage” frees us from criminal responsibility, then where do we stop?

Diseases and sin are not mutually exclusive. Whatever the reason, violating God’s will is a sin. Sin deserves to be punished. What role the government plays in that is an important issue, but when it comes to God, he does punish sin. Thankfully, all sin has been punished in the person of Jesus Christ. For those who believe that he died for our sins and rose again, turning to him as the only hope for cleansing, God exchanges our sins for his righteousness. This is good news, much better news than trying to figure out who has been damaged enough by their past to be free from criminal responsibility.