Apr 262017
 

The 2017 National Football League draft takes place starting tomorrow night in the great city of Philadelphia.

The city’s Parkway will be showcased as draft activities will be set up and take place over the stretch from the captivating Franklin Institute to the acclaimed Art Museum, with the main stage built at the top of the very steps that Rocky once ascended. The weather forecast looks promising and reportedly everything will be in place for a great event.

Many collegiate football players will have their dreams come true as their names are announced as a draft pick of one of the 32 NFL football teams. Beside the possible booing that could occur with an unpopular Eagles pick and that will inevitably accompany every Cowboys pick, there should be much expression and feelings of joy and happiness and relief taking place over the next several days. While some of the lower draft picks will still have to battle to make their respective teams, just having the opportunity to make the NFL will bring great exhilaration.

That brings me to Joe Mixon. Mixon is an especially gifted running back from the University of Oklahoma who would be considered a first round draft pick, if not even upper first round, based on his talent alone. However, it is not known when Mixon will get drafted because of this video. (Warning: The video shows disturbing violence of a man perpetrated against a woman; watch at your own discretion.)

That one punch resulted in multiple facial fractures for the woman and a lifelong big black mark against Mixon. While many other football players have committed domestic violence, few have had it recorded on a video which became public. This very ugly incident is now engrained in the memory of the millions of people who have watched it. Many other players with domestic violence accusations, both those who have not gone beyond allegations and those who have been convicted in a court of law, have gotten off relatively easily in the court of public opinion. They may have dropped a little bit in the draft or got a little bit of grumbling from their team’s local community, but didn’t suffer much beyond that. That doesn’t make their cases any less worse, but it’s just the reality that Mixon’s case is different because everybody can see with their own eyes what he did.

Joe Mixon is now a lightning rod. Seemingly everyone who is aware of situation has a strong opinion, or at least strong feelings about him and the possibility of him being drafted. Especially when one considers that the team they root for may draft him. The image in their memory of what Mixon did stands out in an atrocious manner. It is hard for many to stomach seeing that video of Mixon playing in their head and then cheering for the same man each Sunday he suits up in their team’s gear.

I have been through something similar once before. Back in 2009, my beloved Eagles shocked the football world when they signed Michael Vick not long after he had been released from prison. Vick, of course, was infamous for his integral role in a dog fighting ring where hundreds of dogs were grotesquely abused and killed. He was convicted of his crimes and spent close to two years in prison, while also entering into bankruptcy because of the loss of his huge contract with the Atlanta Falcons and previous mismanagement of his earnings.

When the Eagles announced the signing, I was dismayed. I did not want such a man on my football team. I certainly didn’t want to have to cheer for him as he played out on the field for the Eagles. I wasn’t necessarily against giving him a second chance in the NFL, but I certainly didn’t want my team to be the one giving it to him.

Some of my fellow fans were all up in arms in protest against him being on the team, but then were able to quickly forgive and forget once Vick was performing very well on the field. As for me and some others, however, the thinking was different. We still would rather have had someone else to cheer for, but as time went on, we came to accept this second chance for Michael Vick. The man carried himself well, proving over time that he was a changed man. Perfect, no, but much different than the man who had committed those heinous crimes. And unlike many other athletes, and sometimes even “regular” people, who get off from their crimes with just a slap on the wrist, Vick had paid a significant penalty to society. His time had been paid and how much longer should we continue to try to punish him?

The situation with Joe Mixon is different than the one with Michael Vick, but there are some parallels. At what point are we willing to give a second chance? Vick paid a significant penalty for his crimes. Mixon, seemingly got off relatively easy with a sentencing of community service and counseling and suspension from his college football team for one season. Does society need to punish Mixon further since many think he wasn’t punished enough in the first place? Vick showed himself to be a changed man. Mixon is quite questionable in this regard, with allegations and rumors and even documentation of other bad behavior, both before and after this videoed domestic violence incident. How much good behavior (or lack of bad behavior) do we need to see before we’re willing to give a second chance? And is it a “privilege” to be able to play in the NFL that NFL officials and team owners can rightly guard, or is it unfair discrimination to keep out a man who can legally and capably perform the job? Just because the occupation of professional football player brings one much more fame and money than most other professions, is it right to prevent a man from making a living in the thing he is skilled at, when we may not have the same standard for other jobs?

And as Christians, do we, or should we approach this subject different than society? Because after all, isn’t our faith based on receiving second chances….. second chances that we don’t even deserve and would lose if not for the eternal grace of God? With the ability to receive forgiveness and reconciliation. With the opportunity to be reformed and rehabilitated into something better. Yet also with the volition to hold to God’s laws and decrees and justice and righteousness. How does our faith and our personal relation with God overlap into how we interact with and handle other people in these types of circumstances in life?

In our individual lives, we may not happen upon a person with the fame (or infamy) of Joe Mixon, but we very well may encounter other people in similar situations. People who committed some sordid acts in their past and now are looking for a second chance in life or career or relationship or even in the church. Some who may seem like totally different people now, some who may not seem much different, and others who are somewhere murkily in the middle and we’re just not sure what to make of them.

Each and every circumstance is likely different to some degree and so we just can’t lump them all together and handle them with a cookie-cutter response. But what are our guiding principles? What are the ideas and precepts that help us discern what to do? Whether it be speaking out on a public situation like the drafting of Joe Mixon or dealing with a personal situation that very few others know about, how do we fare?

May we remember to stand for justice and righteousness and protection of the innocent, but also remember that we’d be in big trouble if it wasn’t for a God who gives us an eternal second chance.

(Note: Just as I finished this article, another player, Gareon Conley, who was expected to be drafted in the first round, possibly even by the Eagles, was accused of rape. We will see how that situation plays out.)

  122 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: Who Gets A Second Chance?”

  1. I was going to write something up about this for my own sake…I’m glad Kevin did it first.

    I’m a rabid Vikings fan…and we need a running back.

    The tape says this guy is the best one out there.

    Do I want to root for a guy who blasted a woman in the face?

    Which is worse…seeing him score against us or for us?

    Does the plumbers union have a morality clause?

  2. Not the last time he’s been in trouble, either.

    Nah, I wouldn’t want him.

    Of course, as a Panther fan, we cheered for Ray Caruth, so maybe we are extra cautious.

  3. What is a 2nd chance in this instance? Perhaps his 2nd chance is that he can get a job with a trucking company so he can feed his family.

    On the other thread Jean posted an article by Chad Bird. He now drives a truck instead of being the seminary professor he was — that is his 2nd chance.

    Maybe Joe Mixon’s 2nd football chance comes in a couple of years in the draft. But it’s not like the NFL isn’t a bunch of hoods anyway.

  4. To be honest…I’m torn between wanting the guy in prison and wanting him in purple.

    My guess is that this is an area where the culture has overtaken my ethics…

  5. The Eagles need a running back and are rumored to be interested in Mixon, too. For the most part I want nothing to do with the guy, but then there are those moments where I’m thinking only about football and I think the Eagles could really end up getting a bargain if they were able to get him after the first round.

    But the bigger question for me is how do we make these decisions of when we support second chances and when we don’t? Whether they be for an NFL football player or any other less glamorous walk of life. In the Michael Vick experience, I came to conclude that it was okay for him to get a second chance in the NFL. This Mixon guy, I lean toward the opposite right now. But what is the criteria or basis as to how we come to our beliefs or decisions?

  6. I’m well into my seventy times seven on several fronts…

    I guess the conclusions come down to responsibility–has he taken it? rehabilitation–has he demonstrated it? and repetition–is he a repeat offender/pattern abuser? There are people in every field of work who have a felony in their history and have taken their punishment, learned from the error, and moved on successfully. Why can’t Mixon?

  7. Even if we extend this to the church. We know pastors and elders and deacons have prescribed qualifications in Scripture that they are to meet. If they don’t meet these standards (although none do perfectly) and the decision is made that they can’t continue to serve in their positions, how do we make decisions as to if and when they can serve again in those positions?

    What if it is a staff position in the church? What if it is just seeking a “normal” job in life? Should the standards to receive a second chance be less for a “normal” job than a professional sports player job? Or a church job?

  8. Kevin,

    Good stuff.

    The GM of the Vikings was honest enough yesterday to say that “grace’ was given according to the measure of talent a person had.

    I think the church has a similar standard…

  9. “The GM of the Vikings was honest enough yesterday to say that “grace’ was given according to the measure of talent a person had.

    I think the church has a similar standard…”

    That certainly is true in sports. If the guy was only considered a 5th or 6th round talent to begin with, then probably nobody would give him a “second chance”. First round talent, however, a different story.

    And we’ve seen more than enough examples in the church to think that the same standards often apply.

    But even in regular life I would be similar standards often apply. Someone who gets themselves in trouble is more likely to get their job back or a similar job if they were really good at it in the first place. Someone else who didn’t stand out in their job in the first place may have much more difficulty finding that second chance.

  10. i guess (yes, i’m an ancient football fan to one degree or another) that there is a much greater use of performance enhancing substances than anyone wants to face up to…
    there’s a pretty good chance that this star athlete has pushed the envelope in that regard and from what i understand those things can make you very aggressive … he may be a victim of his own or someone else’s ambition – still, reasons are not excuses
    but 2nd chances very very often are justified – mostly i agree with filbertz’ #6 on this

    that said, i think society is a little mixed up today on the topic of forgiveness – well, maybe the human race always has been – dunno – we forgive when it suits us?

  11. “But even in regular life I would *bet* similar standards often apply.

  12. Kevin,

    Great article. I know next to nothing about professional sports, but one thing that frustrates me is the inequality of our justice system. If one has a lot of money or fame, the scales often are tilted in their favor. Moreover, when it comes to sports or politics, people often are more willing to tolerate or dismiss illegality or moral failure, if there’s something the perpetrator can do for them.

    Vick might be an exception, however, most people have no patience for people who are cruel to animals.

    If you’re a dirt poor nobody, the justice system will eat you up.

    If we want to talk about the Church, it seems in America to be relatively silent to injustice in our penal system. Maybe more like dead silent.

  13. “If we want to talk about the Church, it seems in America to be relatively silent to injustice in our penal system. Maybe more like dead silent.”

    Truth.
    Thanks for saying it, Jean.

  14. Catholics work tirelessly against penal injustice.

    I don’t, but they do.

  15. I just read some of the details of what happened.

    http://amp.usatoday.com/story/95715974/

    There is no excuse for what he did. It’s horrible. At the same time it seems that he was provoked. I understand what it’s like to be provoked and lose my temper. As long as he shows some repentance and maturing give the guy a shot.

  16. A woman-beater should get a second chance to participate in a profession of violence that is populated with thugs and criminals? Sounds like a great idea. I guess we can all find some measure of justice in the fact that, in spite of the millions he is going to get, he’s going to most likely suffer brain-injury caused dementia.

  17. Sorry to be out of step with everyone on this matter. In both cases there is extreme violence and in one case, that of Michael Vick, calculated cruelty. The idea that this is any sense linked to “second chances”, I find appalling and deeply offensive. Consider if this calculated cruelty was applied to the dog or cat that is a member of your family; consider if it was your daughter in the video. Again, I find this deeply offensive. Christians stopped the gladiatorial games in Rome at the cost of martyrdom, they did not speculate on the cruelty quotient of the gladiators.

  18. Duane,

    What would you propose we then do with a Michael Vick or Joe Mixon or other similar athletes or even other people in “normal” walks of life?

    You are against “second chances” for them. Does that mean no second chance in the NFL or even to the extent of no second chance at getting a normal job in society? Should they even be allowed out of prison (Mixon never even went to prison in the first place) or should they serve life sentences?

    And if we say a Vick or Mixon shouldn’t be allowed back in the NFL, but could take a normal job, then should we or how would we similarly punish the “regular” person who only had a normal job in the first place? How would we downgrade them?

    I’m not trying to goad you, but I’m curious as to what you think we should do with these type of people after they have committed their crimes.

  19. I said back at #3 that Mixon’s 2nd chance should be that he gets to go drive a truck so he can feed his family. Let’s carried it out to Duane’s conclusion, no 2nd chance – do Christians boycott the trucking company that hires Mixon? Do we boycott all companies who ship their products on those trucks?

    Should Christian boycott NFL games as being similar to Roman gladiator games?

  20. The propensity to violence (and cruelty even more so) is a recognized psychological disorder. As to the people in question, barred for life from the sport. That, however, is not the issue. The issue is making use of examples of wanton cruelty and violence and relating it to “second chances” in the church. I find this an abhorrent analogy.

  21. MLD,

    If Mixon should be allowed to drive a truck but not get into the NFL, then what about the guy who was a trucker in the first place and hits his wife. After he pays his penalties, is he allowed to go back to the same level job? Does only the football player suffer a downgrade?

  22. Duane,

    You may find the analogy abhorrent of comparing cruel violence by a football player to getting second chances in the church, but I do think there are some parallels. They are obviously not the same thing. By God’s grace we are forgiven of our sins, even cruel violence, by faith and repentance and receive an eternal “second chance” where we avoid the death that we deserve.

    Many of those sins for which we are forgiven were committed against fellow man. Now, society can’t function without there being a rule of law that punishes bad behavior and so there must be consequences and penalties. But being what we learn from God in that there are both consequences for our sins but also opportunity for forgiveness and second chance, how do we try to take what we learn from those things and apply them to fellow man.

    I don’t think there are black and white answers to many of these situations. But I do think there is much that could be thought about them.

  23. Kevin,
    The point I make is that as a society (I don’t isolate out the church) we restrict people from getting what they want. In this case Mixon wants all that comes with a football career – society says “no, you are an abuser go drive a truck.”

    Carry it further – the NFL owner wants the star prospect – society says no, we won’t come to your games.

    I did say at #3 that his 2nd chance could come later. I do want him to have a job – I don’t want to support him.

  24. Kevin

    I have already lost half a night’s sleep over this posting, which I found deeply offensive. Once a week, as Michael knows, I work as a volunteer in a facility for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’ve seen the faces of the women and girls I pick up from the hospital to take to the center. It’s personal…

    I am not, however, talking about social policy. I will simply repeat that I consider the analogy misplaced. It is so deeply offensive as to make me question my continued participation on PP.

  25. MLD,

    I don’t necessarily disagree. I’m just trying to think things through.

  26. Duane,

    Wow, I’m sorry for the offense. My intent certainly wasn’t to make light of a very serious issue or to wrongly analogize it to the church and I tried not to do that. My sincere apologies for the hurt and offense it caused you.

    I would ask that you please don’t leave the PP because of one thing I have written. You and your contributions are quite valued here.

  27. ***If Mixon should be allowed to drive a truck but not get into the NFL, then what about the guy who was a trucker in the first place and hits his wife. After he pays his penalties, is he allowed to go back to the same level job? Does only the football player suffer a downgrade?***

    Here’s the thing…our society already does not take violence against women and domestic violence as seriously as it should. For example…try being a woman in family court trying to free herself and her children from an abusive spouse and see how that goes for you. Try being a victim of rape who is put in the impossible situation of having to prove that she didn’t give consent and see how that goes for you.

    Abusive people are not held to the account that they should be, so, yes, it’s galling and offensive to see people wringing their hands over someone like Mixon–a violent man who assaulted physically assaulted someone and who basically got away with it and was not punished appropriately to begin. And now people are actually questioning whether or not it’s fair to ban him from playing football and earning millions of dollars being a violent sports thug. It’s crazy. Yeah, let the guy earn a living–at something where he isn’t glorified for engaging in violence every week.

  28. Since this thug should be in jail, the sorry fact that he isn’t is enough of a second chance.

  29. Well said, Xenia.

  30. When I think about the Joe Mixon video, my response is that I want the man to burn in hell. At some point later, I am reminded that God says in His Word that He desires all to be saved.

    Now that obviously deals with purely the spiritual dimension. But then my thoughts are drawn to how we should think on and handle such situations in society. And as Christians, I think on how do we apply what we have learned from and know of God to how we handle these situations.

    I am not settled in my mind as to absolutes in how these situations should be handled, at least many of them. Which is why in my writing (both the original article and in the comments) I raise many more questions than I make assertions. I try to generate thought and discussion on the topic.

    Some here (and that well could include others who have not commented) do not like the analogy I made between the second chance God gives us and how do we consider second chances for a person like Joe Mixon or other similar situations in society. Please know that I do not take domestic violence or the like lightly at all. Those who commit domestic violence disgust me and the damage suffered by the abused is incalculable and calls for great compassion.

    I once again apologize to those who took offense to my analogy or handling of the topic. Writing about a sensitive topic that generates strong feelings is risky. I tried to be careful in my approach and did not intend to offend, but I may have failed.

  31. “Since this thug should be in jail, the sorry fact that he isn’t is enough of a second chance.”

    Xenia, I think I pretty much agree. My only apprehension is making this type of approach a rule for all situations (and I’m not saying you are). I think we need to be careful when society decides to punish someone further when they decide someone didn’t serve enough penalty in the justice system or that they are not worthy of second chances. There could be cases where society is misinformed or mistaken about circumstances and then someone is unjustly punished beyond what they deserve. In Mixon’s case with the availability of the video, it seems pretty clear to most that he didn’t incur enough penalty in the first place for the crime he committed.

  32. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

    Jesus died for the abuser and the abused.

    Scandalous.

  33. Kevin, sometimes when the courts fail, the common people have to act.

    He should be shunned, just like OJ was shunned when the courts failed in his case. (OJ is another football thug who should have been jailed for wife-beating long before he finally killed her.)

    What will we excuse so we can enjoy our football? What shall we excuse so we can be entertained?

    I often hear people justify watching horrible things, things no Christian should ever watch, and their excuse is “It’s just entertainment.”

    The Devil doesn’t have to bomb our churches or kidnap our clergy here in the US. All he has to do is dazzle us with entertainment and we will excuse just about anything.

    On the other thread we are upset that a fictional character has been outed as a Nazi and this is evidence that the American culture is in serious trouble. One aspect of the current culture that I think is good is the increasing lack of tolerance for beating up women. All throughout history, men beat up their wives and people looked the other way. This horror is finally being seen as the crime that it is but putting this Mixon person on TV as a football hero is a step in the wrong direction.

    I don’t see any gray area here.

  34. Xenia,

    I don’t see much gray area at all in the Mixon case. I used his case as a jumping point for conversation. There are plenty of other cases with varying levels of similarity to Mixon, some with more gray than others.

    My only hesitation with society jumping in as a rule is that sometimes society could jump too quickly or too strongly when they really don’t know enough about a situation, even if they think they do, and could act wrongly.

  35. Let me highlight the one positive that comes out of this kind of mess.

    It puts awareness of the matter through the roof.

    My father battered my mother and me.

    This isn’t an abstract problem to me.

    Most people didn’t believe it after the bruises were healed and many thought it almost natural.

    Now we see video of it and most are horrified about what they see.

    Things have changed a lot since then…but I still read John Piper talking about how abused women should stay in marriages for the sake of the Gospel.

    We still don’t know how to deal with this.

    The young man in question will have to work for the rest of his life…and in that work may find something that helps change him.

    He may be able to address these matters as a public figure.

    Denying him the ability to do what he is gifted to do may create more anger and more violence .

    On the other hand, he will be celebrated for his work, which most of us are not.

    My father found other work…as a pastor in the Nazarene church.

    They did not hear my objections…

  36. Michael, you know I respect you, but I must disagree with you here.

    Saying he should be in the NFL because he’s good at football and needs to work is not much different than saying the adulterous pastor should be put back in the pulpit because he needs to work and he’s such a good teacher.

    I understand that the Scriptures give qualifications for pastors and not for football players, but I think we can make the extrapolation.

  37. Most of us don’t get to work at our dream jobs. He had his chance but his character was not up to the task. He gets to do something else, just like the rest of us have had to do. Just like all those pastors we talk about here: Sorry bub, but you have disqualified yourself.

  38. Xenia,

    Where do we allow people to work who have done wicked things?

    What makes being a professional athlete different from being an excellent, but abusive plumber?

    Is it simply the public aspect of it?

  39. When has character ever been a qualification for being an athlete?

    We’d have to shut down every league tomorrow.

    How far do we let redemption go?

  40. Sports heroes…. do we expect them to be heroes? Do we have the right to expect that they be decent people before we allow them to entertain us?

    My grandson certainly does view football players as heroes and role models and I am sure he is one of millions that do.

    I don’t want Sam to believe that since his beloved NFL has endorsed this brute, that wife-beating is no big deal. I don’t want to ever hear him say “Well, we know he beat up that woman but wow, what a great player!”

  41. Yes, I think it’s the public hero-worshiping nature of NFL football and other professional sports. I don’t care if he’s a plumber or a barber.

  42. Football is inherently violent. It seems ridiculous to me to argue that a person clearly prone to violence should be allowed to play a violent sport because he’s good at it and not doing it will provoke more violence from him. The way this has been handled seems much more likely to result in more bad behavior, just like Aaron Hernandez’s criminal, violent behavior was covered up and excused until he did something so egregious it couldn’t be covered up.

    There are countless people who are remarkably talented in a certain area but unable through no fault of their own to pursue a career in that field. Why show concern for a guy who should’ve disqualified from his chosen field because of terrible behavior?

  43. Isn’t there a personal morality clause in sports contracts? If not, there should be.

  44. It might not be a bad thing to shut down every sports league given how full of thugs they were. Society will not suffer in the long term if professional sports were not a thing.

  45. Xenia,

    Trey isn’t in to pro sports but we dealt with this same thing recently.

    The only player he knew about on the Vikings was Adrian Peterson…who sat out a year after whipping his kids bloody.

    Peterson become an instant object of scorn in my house.

    Pro athletes as a rule are not role models…that’s on me to teach.

  46. I could get behind that, even though I like sports.

  47. Get behind shutting down the leagues, that is.

  48. I like local sports. I like kids playing basketball in the street, kids playing baseball in the empty lot, teenagers throwing footballs around, men playing soccer in the park on Sunday afternoon. When it starts to get too organized, I start to lose my enthusiasm as I remember the preferential treatment the football players received at my small town high school. Corruption begins pretty early once sports gets too organized, it seems. Pass this lunk w/ the brains of an ox in chemistry or else he’ll be kicked of the team…. Starts early and engenders a culture of privilege.

  49. We don’t know how this will be handled yet.
    There are 32 GM’s preparing to draft tonight and everyone of them is debating what to do with Joe Mixon.

    We know it’s cost Mixon millions already…we know he will play somewhere…but the GM’s wonder what the public reaction will be if they take him.

    Perhaps they should read this thread…

  50. Perhaps they should read this thread…<<<<

    I think everyone should read the Phoenix Preacher!

  51. Yeah, there are great benefits to playing games, but once it gets organized on even a small level it brings out so much bad in players and viewers. Even at the little league level it’s not uncommon for parents to act like jerks or for coaches to try to keep the less talented players from playing. At the highschool level how many stories have hit the news of violent hazing and bullying and of players sexual assaulting girls and then the schools and towns standing behind the players and turning against the victim? Apparently it’s incredibly difficult to play competitive sports without people getting dehumanized.

  52. “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

    Elie Wiesel

    Kevin,

    An invitation. I will open my home to you. Drive with me on my weekly run to the hospital. See the woman with the stitches in her face, her jaw wired together. When we get to the center, listen to a woman crying inconsolably because she will have to face her abuser in court. Watch through a one way mirror as a four year old girl tries to explain to a child psychologist what was done to her. On the way home, we’ll stop an talk to the people from Bulldog Rescue (which my wife and I support) and list to how bulldogs, bred for a gentle temperament, are stolen and then used as “bait” prior to dogfights, often after being blinded.

    I accept your apology, but I can barely contain my outrage…

  53. Duane,

    If you could speak to the gathered GM’s of the NFL…what would you tell them to do with this young man today and why?

    This is going to be a huge issue for the next couple of days and on into the season…give it some clarity from your perspective.

  54. Duane, I’m not understanding what has triggered you so deeply. I’m sorry that it has, but I don’t read Kevin make any excuses for this guy or for domestic violence in general. Is the subject itself too sensitive to talk about?

  55. #53 Michael

    Heading up a college for a few years, I learned a singular lesson – zero tolerance for sexual assault, zero tolerance for physical abuse. There are no other options.

  56. #54 Josh

    Using these heinous crimes as an analogy for “second chances” in the church trivializes the crimes and the pain of the victims.

  57. Should no one be there to offer a chance for reform for the perpetrator?

  58. Pastorally, I find this the most difficult issue to deal with because of my own history.

    I have yet to be able to be a spiritual counselor to someone who abuses his wife.

    I get other help for the person and get away from it…it’s still too raw 50 years later.

  59. “Should no one be there to offer a chance for reform for the perpetrator?”

    That’s the question…and then we answer what does that reform and redemption look like?

  60. Duane,

    I’m not sure what to make of your assumably rhetorical offer as we live far apart and it obviously would not be very feasible for me to join you on your hospital run. As Josh said a few comments ago, I have not made any excuses for domestic violence. And I have tried to clarify that I am disgusted by such acts and feel terribly for the victims.

    My judgment may be in error, and that is why I apologized as I may have caused unnecessary offense, but I have only tried to bring up for discussion as to what level or degree, if any, do we allow for second chances or rehabilitation or reform for the perpetrators. And being that I am a Christian and part of the church, I tried to bring that angle into how we think about it. In no way am I meaning to minimize or silence the victims and their pains

  61. Without becoming too technical – there is a difference in patterns of abuse. If a person is a pathological abuser, they will actually use their private therapy, counseling and group therapy as learning opportunities to continue violent and abusive behavior. Others, on the other hand, may be helped through these methods. With both types, continued support and protection from a social organization (college, team, fraternity, etc.) increases (and in some cases guarantees) the likelihood of further abusive behavior in the future.

  62. #60 Kevin

    Ask Michael… I do not make rhetorical offers.

  63. “With both types, continued support and protection from a social organization (college, team, fraternity, etc.) increases (and in some cases guarantees) the likelihood of further abusive behavior in the future.”

    Duane, I know how you do research,so that becomes a fact that most of us are unaware of.

    It would make cases like this cut and dried…the problem then becomes how to get such information in the hands of the public at large.

    I would say that this situation provides an incredible educational opportunity…

  64. Let’s say I hit my girlfriend once when I was 18. Just as a hypothetical.

    Should I have been banished then? Never allowed even a chance at reform? No going to college or seminary, never meet my wife or have kids?

    I am 100% against domestic violence. 100%. Would never cover for anyone for doing such a thing. But I am reminded of the scene from The Hiding Place when Corrie is speaking at a church after the war. At the end of her sermon she sees a guard that brutalized her sister coming down the aisle. It was more than she could handle. God stepped in.
    She ended up starting organizations to minister to these concentration camp guards with the love of Christ.

  65. You say that you are disgusted by his actions and feel terribly for abuse victims, but that didn’t stop you from concluding your article with…

    ***May we remember to stand for justice and righteousness and protection of the innocent, but also remember that we’d be in big trouble if it wasn’t for a God who gives us an eternal second chance.***

    Which, basically, comes across as incredibly dismissive toward victims. How many times have we heard basically the same sentiments voiced by religious authority figures who, far from caring about victims, just want to silence opponents, support abusers, and make everything go away in the name of mercy.

  66. j2,

    I know Kevin…and I know myself…and it’s not being dismissive of victims.

    It’s wrestling with our rage toward perps and the the fact that they are included in the Gospel, as Josh has pointed out.

    This isn’t easy to parse…

  67. I think they key is not covering for it, and allowing the perpetrators to experience the consequences for their abuse. I think when we say grace or mercy, some may hear “forget about it”, or “sweep it under the rug”.

    That is definitely not the answer.

  68. #64 Josh

    For your hypothetical… I think we would be better served to hear from some women on this thread and gain their opinion.

    Forgiveness, yes. But as Natalie Maines wrote, “Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I don’t think I could.”

  69. No, nor would I advocate for the woman staying with the man, or that the man’s repercussions would be lessened in any way. But I hope that a huge mistake by an 18 year old kid (forget sports) wouldn’t be his last chance to be a productive memeber of society.

  70. Well, my boyfriend DID hit me when I was 18.

    We had been together for several years and were getting sick of each other. Things were getting pretty tense between us and I said something very snarky and he hauled off and smacked me. Well, that was the end of us for sure BUT he was not one given to hitting people, I think the situation between us and the situation we found ourselves in in general was more than he could take and his baser nature took over. I probably could have been the one smacking him, who knows.

    I never told anyone or turned him in to the cops, etc. and I am glad he went to college and got to be a big shot in Ohio somewhere, and I am especially glad I didn’t end up with him for life but I would not destroy this guy on the basis of one smack,

    Now it could be that he’s been smacking the lady he did end up with, who knows but it didn’t seem to be in his basic personality to be violent.

  71. A lot of times abusers grow up in abusive situations. They think that it is normal. They vow NEVER to do it, but they don’t have the tools to break the cycle. When they get in a tough situation, they do to others what had been done to them.

    I want to see the people reformed. Again, NOT celebrated, nor unilaterally excused with no consequences. I want to show them a better way.

  72. ***But I hope that a huge mistake by an 18 year old kid (forget sports) wouldn’t be his last chance to be a productive memeber of society.***

    This article is basically conflating having a second chance to be a productive member of society as meaning he needs to be a multi-millionaire sports star in a profession that glorifies violence. Nobody here would begrudge him a living, and there are many, many ways to be a productive member of society without being famous, without be rich, without being rewarded for being violent.

  73. ***I want to see the people reformed. Again, NOT celebrated, nor unilaterally excused with no consequences. I want to show them a better way.***

    Dismissing his violence by not sending him to prison for a year or two and turning him into a millionaire sports player in a game that is inherently violent is not a step toward showing him a better way.

  74. @ 73 – Agreed.

  75. j2,

    This article is asking questions, not drawing conclusions.

    The objective here is to have conversations that bring some light to difficult issues…if we can’t have discussions about them,then we will continue to lack clarity as to how to think about them.

  76. Duane,

    Since your offer is real and not rhetorical, I would have to respectfully decline at this time as needs and responsibilities at home would outweigh me making such a trip. But I do appreciate your seriousness in offering and if life circumstances or situations were to change to allow for such a visit, then I would reconsider.

  77. “This article is basically conflating having a second chance to be a productive member of society as meaning he needs to be a multi-millionaire sports star in a profession that glorifies violence.”

    j2, I see that Michael has already answered for me, but nowhere am I even insinuating that Mixon or Vick or any similar person “needs” to get their professional football career back. I am asking questions as to what and how we would consider giving second chances.

  78. #76 Kevin

    You would be welcome at any time…

  79. I think perhaps it’s asking the wrong questions. Grace from God and christians doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a person’s work circumstances. Perhaps God will show him grace, perhaps Christians will show him grace, but that grace is in no way associated with his work circumstances or his success in life. In a way, it’s very name-it-claim-it to bring his job into a discussion of showing him and people like him grace.

    My concern is not particularly about grace because I’m not in a position to show him grace. The woman he victimized can do that. The people who interact with him on a daily basis can do that. I can’t. What I can be is concerned about our overall society what this situations says about it. My desire is that the authorities in our country would do what they can to reduce violence and domestic violence and abuse. There are so many ways in which women are abused and then re-abused the system. They way he got off basically scott free speaks to that imbalanced and unjust system.

    I’m not sure that people on the outside can extend grace. Society as a whole couldn’t show grace to that Nazi officer–Corrie Ten Boom had to. Society as a whole couldn’t show grace to the boyfriend who hit Xenia–Xenia herself had to. What we can seek is justice and order.

  80. J2 makes very good points.

  81. j2,

    Then tell us what work persons convicted of abuse are allowed to do.

    If the argument is that it disqualifies you from the national stage of any sort, that’s a viable alternative.

    However, I know a man who was a banking executive and was abusive to both his wife and kids.

    Should he be fired as well?

    What is the benchmark?

    Frankly, having a bunch of violent people who now are also unemployed with no hope of employment in their fields raises a lot of concern…

    The NFL is basically entertainment…and I think it quite appropriate for the public to say that they have no desire to be entertained by abusers…

  82. Grace comes in through how we think of people.

    Do they bear the label for their crimes forever or do we allow room for redemption to change someones identity?

    I will have issues with some people forever…but I’m not sure that I should under the cross.

  83. j2,

    That I ask the wrong questions in the article is a valid opinion.

  84. I may be missing something here and this will probably get me in trouble. I watched the video and it seems that he was provoked and she actually started beating on him first. Now I know it is not culturally correct to hit girls, but does his striking her equal abuse? Are we talking the same thing?
    Why isn’t this a battery case – just like 2 guys getting in a bar fight is not considered abuse. Did these people have a relationship? Did they even know each other? Shouldn’t he be known as a bar brawler instead of an abuser?

    On the other hand, if someone was hitting my daughter or one of my grand daughters I would take up Duane’s policy of zero tolerance, get my gun and do away with the guy.

  85. KevinH,

    The one I was writing sounded a lot like yours, so I’m glad you’re taking the whupping for me… 🙂

    These are complex issues…

  86. MLD,

    I’m old school…you just never lay hands on a woman.
    My pastoral counseling on the issue sounds similar to your last paragraph, however.

  87. He should have just called the police and pressed charges. Odds are she would have been punished more than he was.

    I don’t understand how not being able to play football means a guy is unemployable. Basically every professional football player has gone to college. Was that education completely worthless? He should get into counseling and find a job that doesn’t ask him to be violent every week and that isn’t going to result in traumatic brain injury that will probably result in him being more violent over time.

    I can’t come up with an answer as to what jobs are and aren’t appropriate. What I do think is that when the courts fail in their duty it’s not inappropriate to seek justice in some other way.

  88. “What I do think is that when the courts fail in their duty it’s not inappropriate to seek justice in some other way.”

    That’s why God made blogs… 🙂

  89. “Pro athletes as a rule are not role models…that’s on me to teach.”

    ” Things were getting pretty tense between us and I said something very snarky and he hauled off and smacked me. Well, that was the end of us for sure BUT he was not one given to hitting people, ”

    “I’m not sure that people on the outside can extend grace.”

    “The NFL is basically entertainment…and I think it quite appropriate for the public to say that they have no desire to be entertained by abusers…” appropriate? incumbent, maybe

    “What I do think is that when the courts fail in their duty it’s not inappropriate to seek justice in some other way.” uhhh, not vigilante justice for sure

    just some of the things said here that have me thinking … thanks again …

    there is the aspect of a goad in something like this – it isn’t quite the same as beating your woman because you didn’t like the way she seasoned the meatloaf … or you just needed to hit something and she was handy… that said, there is no doubt that had he been a real man along with all that conditioning and muscle that made him look like one, he was certainly capable of holding her in such a way that she couldn’t land a blow with her hands or feet for as long as necessary …. just sayin

  90. ***uhhh, not vigilante justice for sure***

    Correct, not vigilante justice. But, there are non-criminal things one can do.

  91. I’m sorry that there is so little willingness to see these issues from the victim’s point of view. At one time I was in a group training session, about 40 women and 10 men including myself. The presenter asked, “How many women here have at some time in your life been slapped, hit, pushed,” etc.. All but two of the women raised their hands.

    When I was head of an educational institution, I proposed to expel a student for climbing into the bed of a girl in the room next to his. He was drunk and naked. She screamed and he slapped her. His father was someone important. I was subjected to call after call, threats, offers of bribes, you name it. I expelled him anyway. There was zero concern on the part of those who called for the freshman girl… Sort of says it all.

    This, of course, does not even touch on cruelty to animals, which is by many considered a pathology.

    Should such people be excluded from certain positions of influence (why are sports stars given endorsement contracts if they are not in a position to influence others)? Of course they should. What about in private life? A bank executive… would you want your wife, daughter or grand-daughter to be working for such a person? Even more, would you wish your son or grand-son to work for them or to be mentored or influenced by them?

    If we look from the point of view of the victims, it is a very different perspective.

  92. Dr. Arnold, by God’s grace i’ve never been struck by a man… that said, i didn’t see the comments as ignoring the woman’s view… some, perhaps most, times these attacks are repulsive and the outcomes horrible… was this athlete in the example justified in any way for what he did? i did not see anyone say that he was or even hint that there are two sides to the story once he hauled off and attack this woman… in the event that she initiated the physical attack with one of her own, then this fellow was big enough and strong enough to restrain her without ever hitting back… as to being a victim? well, yes, she was the weaker of the two combatants and we tend to see the loser as the victim in most situations (Hillary certainly sees herself as one 🙂 )… “The NFL is basically entertainment…and I think it quite appropriate for the public to say that they have no desire to be entertained by abusers…” … i think that was Michael

    God keep
    now if she was just verbally disagreeing with her boyfriend (they were involved?), then she did not provoke the response at all – but either way, as i said and i think others have also – dunno – he was no man when he hit her, he was a criminal and should serve a jail sentence of some kind… like the prize fighter whose hands are considered weapons, this fella was without excuse of any kind
    reasons are not excuses
    as to how the general public should respond to this, i think Michael nailed it when he observed:

  93. stupid little box … the quote regarding the general public was what Michael observed and should have follow the last sentence… sigh

  94. I’ve had the opportunity of befriending a couple of guys who will be labeled as “sex-offenders” for the rest of their lives. They went to jail and are now living in low income housing downtown.,They will live with that label for the rest of their lives. They are addicted to drugs and are haunted by their pasts. They need to know that their identity is in Christ and not in the label the world gives them.

    So I look at this Mixon incident through the eyes of the perpetrator, right or wrong. That tape will haunt him for the rest of his life. I hope he’s given an opportunity to reform through what he does best: play football.

    On a side note, I’m not sure how fair it is to label NFL players as violent thugs. There’s proper ways to play the game without seeking to injure. In baseball pitchers throw baseballs at batters intentionally. That’s pretty violent too.

  95. Anyone following this thread may be interested in this article… It follows one of the recent links. http://www.churchprotect.org/dear-church-stop-trying-to-convert-wolves/

  96. Sorry Duane. I can’t give up on the bad guys.

  97. Duane I’m not sure if that post was directed at me or not. I didn’t go looking to convert “wolves”. We simply do dinners in low income apartments. I consider all of the folk we serve friends. I’m simply there to share the hope we have in Christ. That’s all. There is no one so repugnant that they are outside of His Mercy

  98. #97 JoelG

    No, it was not directed at you. I admire what you do. Just a perspective of interest…

  99. In discussing “sheep” and “wolves” I think about King David, a man after God’s own heart. Committing adultery and murder sound very “wolf”-like to me.

  100. #99

    And there was payment….

  101. So after all of the hoopla, did the guy get drafted?

  102. He wasn’t drafted in the first round…he may go tonight or tomorrow.

    The young man accused of rape was drafted by the Raiders…

  103. Duane,

    Could you clarify your position theologically for us?
    How do we parse our responsibilities to both the abused and those who abuse them?

  104. #103 Michael

    Firstly, no one is beyond redemption. That’s a given. When it come to physical abuse, however, we need to recognize the reality. Pathological abusers are simply that… the chances of change are somewhere between slim and none. For others, the rate of repeat behavior is up around 90%. Owing to this, I feel our first and highest priority is to stand with the victims.
    Secondly, we should seek to create safeguards for those who may become future victims. After we have done this, we can try to look for the one out of ten who might actually change their behavior. Even then, however, they need professional help that is beyond the ability of most faith communities. Moreover, it is a situation in which the perpetrator must, in some sense, own their past behavior. In practical terms, this means being in some sense monitored in their relationships. How many times have we heard an abused wife say, “I know he will change…”

    How God might change the heart of a perpetrator is “above my pay grade” and I see no clear instructions in Scripture. I do, however, see an abundance of Scripture indicating the care and protection that we are to give to the wounded and the outcast.

  105. Duane,

    Thanks…well said.

  106. I’m curious…Duane what’s your thoughts on prison ministries? Worthwhile or just a waste of time, since there’s “no clear instructions in scripture”?

  107. JoelG,

    Duane and I are around the same age and we both know how both the church and society have enabled abusers and pedophiles.

    His point is simply that we need to protect and defend them first…then worry about the perps.

  108. Fair enough. My bias is showing.

  109. Prison is probably a good place for ministry, as the perpetrators are in a controlled environment.

  110. JoelG,

    We’re all called to different places.
    If God has given you a heart for those in prison then I thank God for that.

    Duane has been called to minister to battered women and I thank God for that.

    Because of my personal background, I’m going to hear Duane loud and clear, but that doesn’t discount what God is doing through you.

  111. I’m sorry guys. I forget what this sight is focused on. My bad. The abused should come first, always.

  112. #106 Joel

    I am very much in favor of prison ministries, especially when one considers incarceration rates in the US. You likely know more about it than I do, but violent criminals are, according to the Bureau of Prisons, a minority of those incarcerated; the largest single group being drug offenses.

  113. Duane beat me to it.
    The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the Western world…mainly because incarceration is a highly profitable business.
    We need more prison ministries…

  114. Right now all I do is build relationships with guys that have been in prison, drug addicts, mental illness, etc. I feel drawn to prison ministry.

    The guys who are registered sex affenders have been abused themselves. One of them by a Christian foster parent. I don’t want to diminish the hurt they’ve caused, just remind them of who they are in Christ.

  115. Thanks for the info guys. Sorry again for getting all feisty.

  116. JoelG,

    No problem at all.
    I love your heart and having you onboard.

  117. JoelG

    If that’s your calling, you’re following in the steps of saints…

  118. Thank you both. I appreciate the encouragement and will look into it.

  119. FYI he got drafted by the Bengals in the second round. He and his friends sexually harassed this woman and then when she stood up for herself he punched her and left her drinking through a straw for 6 months. He hasn’t even had the decency to settle the civil case against him. He seems like a class act. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4457694/Cincinnati-Bengals-draft-Joe-Mixon.html

  120. The civil case was settled last week and the victim and nixon made a joint appearance together.

  121. That’s good to hear. The article I linked to said it was still pending. Glad it has been taken care of.

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