May 5, 2008

The Limits of Love

If you haven't heard by now, an Austrian man has confessed to holding his daughter captive in a basement dungeon for the past 24 years, while fathering seven children with her in the process.

The story, as it's being reported so far, is that Mr. Fritzl began abusing his daughter Elisabeth when she was 11 years old, finally drugging her and locking her downstairs when she was 18. Over the next 24 years, Fritzl continued his abuse by repeatedly raping his captive daughter, leading to the birth of seven children.

Of the seven children, one died at birth (Fritzl disposed of the body using the house furnace), three were taken care of by Fritzl and his wife, and three remained captive in the cell below, having never seen daylight until the dungeon was discovered last week.

The most recent reports explain that Fritzl could avoid prison entirely with a successful insanity plea. They go on to say that even if he is found guilty, the Austrian system will most likely provide a 15 year sentence at the maximum, reduced to 10 years for good behavior--less than half the amount of time Elisabeth spent in her horrific dungeon.

If Mr. Fritzl were to serve his 10 years in prison, make his way out of his country, and somehow show up at the door of my church, I honestly don't know what I'd do or how I'd react. When the door of my church says, "Come as you are" I have to wonder how far I'm willing to extend the invitation.

And Elisabeth herself--does anyone really expect her to forgive her father? I can't imagine how she could, but where's the line that separates the unforgiveable things from the forgiveable ones?

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