'Sexting': What would Jesus do?

It bothers me that 'sexting' teens may face child porn charges. I'm conflicted. What would Jesus do?

Child pornography convictions can mar a young person's future. In states where these charges are a felony, like Virginia, convicted felons lose voting rights and the right to serve on a jury. Child pornography sentences include mandatory registry in sex offender databases and public publication of faces, names, and addresses. Felony convictions restrict job opportunities in many ways.

I used to think that felons were murderers or drug dealers. Now, it seems, a person can become a candidate for becoming a felon in the blick of a message on a cell phone. Laws make it easy to prosecute someone with a photo, even a deleted photo.

It is too easy for young people to get hurt these days by possessing photo debris from friends or from cyberspace. The photo could be of a teen who is now in her 50s, yet the law may prosecute the possessor of that photo anyway.

Child porn photos are easy-to-get jail bait.

The students in Massachusetts created their own quick photo, sent it to friends, and some of those involved are in danger of being prosecuted. They've hurt themselves by their small choices.

Many teens across the country are doing similar things. Do they know what they are risking?

Perhaps, computers, photos and cameras need to come with a warning label that certain photos can endanger your life or the lives of those you love.

It's too easy to get hurt.

Getting hurt by small choices isn't unique to child pornography laws. As I was driving the other day, I was thinking about how easily a small choice could complicate life.

While driving, small choices can have damaging results. The laws of physics and gravity don't discriminate on the basis of age or innocence or grade average. If you're driving down an icy road and mishandle the vehicle, you can end up in an accident that maims or kills. If you're momentarily distracted by texting or talking, you can veer off a roadway and into a tree. Young inexperienced drivers get hurt or killed in vehicles every year.

Even experienced drivers can suffer a moment of inattention and plow into a car. Accidents happen. Sometimes with damaging consequences.

Accidents happen. Poor choices happen on the road. Now with computers and cell phones.

Where is the grace of God in these dangerous social times where a single photo can land a young person in serious trouble with the law?

What can thinking Christians do? Are the mores of taking and distributing photos too loose? Is the law too rigid? Are sentences appropriate for the situation or the individual?

Can a committed Christian be concerned how easily ill-adviced choices endanger young lives and futures?

What would Jesus do?

Jesus taught that those who looked at a woman with sexual desire in their hearts were guilty of adultry. And this was before explicit photographs and today's anti-pornography efforts.

Yet, when Jesus was asked to condemn a woman caught in adultry, he adviced them to let the one who was free of sin cast the first stone. Jesus wrote on the ground while, one by one, all her acusers left the woman alone with Jesus.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.

"Then, neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go, now, and leave your life of sin" (John 8:10-11 NIV)
Jesus held high standards yet he communicated truth with grace. Jesus trusted and served a loving and just God. Jesus loved people without condoning or encouraging their destructive choices. Jesus freed people to new lifestyles and new hope.

If Jesus were to comment on those caught 'sexting' in violation of current child pornography laws, what would Jesus do? What would Jesus say?

What do you think?

Related articles:
'Sexting' Teens May Face Child Porn Charges
blog post on 'Sexting' teens may face child porn charges

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