Is Anyone Sad for Ariel Castro?

Is Anyone Sad for Ariel Castro?

On August 1 Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for kidnapping three girls he locked in his home for a decade, which included torture and rape, and the murder of an unborn child. Yesterday, a little over a month after this sentence, Castro was found dead in his jail cell. He had hanged himself.

And I wonder, is anyone sad for Ariel Castro?

Reports have already appeared on the “little sympathy” this suicide engenders from the public. Anderson Cooper, a paragon of political correctness, so casually referred to Castro as a “monster” last night on CNN. Not to mention, the timing of Castro’s death comes in the middle of other important things that occupy our attention, such as the American response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. We are haunted by the images of innocent civilians ravished by sarin gas and we mourn over this bloodshed tallying over 100,000 deaths in the past two years.

There is a lot to be sad about right now, but I wonder, is anyone sad for Ariel Castro?

Or the better question: should we be sad for Ariel Castro?

Is there any sense in which we should grieve the death of one so degenerate as to fuel horror in the lives of three girls for a whole decade — girls that he captured by luring them into his car when one was as young as 14-years-old? Should we be sad that the deeply developed depravity of this man’s life has now culminated in his suicidal death? That he has now, as far we can discern, walked into an eternal misery infinitely worse than the ten years of “hell” to which he subjected his victims? Should we be sad?

Yes.

We should be sad because everything about Ariel Castro’s life is tragic. We should be sad because Ariel Castro was created an image-bearer of God who then spurned God and exchanged his immortal glory of light for the debauched darkness of being a self-willed despot.

We should be sad to see any human life end in such tragedy, and we should be humbled.

We should be humbled because we understand the truth of human sinfulness. We know what it means to be sinners. We know that, in a sense, there is an Ariel Castro inside all of us — that the same kind of sin that grew and grew and developed into such manifest depravity in his life has the same potential in our own, if not for the grace of God. Do you feel that?

Castro’s suicide calls our cards to the table on who we are. Do we stand at a distance — across the divide as beings fundamentally different than him — looking at this story and saying, “God, thank you that I am not a monster like this man”?

Or do we stop? Do we bow our heads in sincerest sobriety, and pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner — capable of crimes the same as this man if my sin went unchecked and unrestrained by your grace”?

Should we be sad for Ariel Castro?

Or the better question: What kind of person are you?


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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.