Sunday, May 13, 2012

Michael Rafferty & Terri-Lynne McClintic: Who Will Be There To Love Them?

Tori Stafford, 8, was murdered 3 years ago. Both Michael Rafferty & Terri-Lynne McClintic have been convicted of her murder.

If you are an American or International reader of The Loving Room, you probably will not have heard of Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic. McClintic, 21, plead guilty two years ago to the murder of 8-year-old Woodstock, Ontario native Victoria "Tori" Stafford, and just this week her former boyfriend Rafferty, 31, was convicted on all three counts: first degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm, and kidnapping. The disturbing case has been in the news for years - if it had been in America, CNN would have devoted hours and hours to it - and is finally coming to a close. Neither McClintic or Rafferty will probably ever see freedom again, and I'm not here to argue one way or the other whether they should or not. Snuffing out the life of a beautiful little girl is inexcusable and a true tragedy.

But what do we do with murderers like these? There were cheers on Facebook when Rafferty was convicted the other day. But what now?  Although I am no longer a fundamentalist Christian, there are a few verses that will not escape me. One is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And the words of Jesus who said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt. 5:43-44, ESV).  

Say what, Jesus? What have you been smoking? There must be an "out" clause when it comes to "monsters" such as the murderers of Tori Stafford. No, it seems that there is no out clause. I believe you and I are called to love even who we would consider to be the worst of society. People do not have to "deserve" love in order for us to give it. Does this mean that we open up the cells of every prisoner and let them walk free? Of course not.  The public must be protected. But we must do better than to lock them up and let prisoners sit there with no chance of rehabilitation. It bothers me how we are so quick to cheer a person's guilty verdict when it does nothing to bring back the person who died.  What we are left with is a dead victim, and two convicted killers who have shattered mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.

What must we do? First of all, shut off the tv and close the newspapers because our fascination with such cases is macabre. And then we should listen to Jesus once again. Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22, ESV) It is only through forgiveness and love that we can move on personally and as a society. And the way that we prevent the Terri McClintic's and Michael Rafferty's from becoming murderous people is by showing them, and each other pure and consistent love.