Little sympathy is being shown for Ariel Castro, who held three young women hostage as sex slaves in his home for nearly a decade and who reportedly committed suicide in his jail cell in Ohio this week. But should at least Christians be sad for him, asks a blogger at the Desiring God ministry.
"Should we be sad that the deeply developed depravity of this man's life has now culminated in his suicidal death?" asks Jonathan Parnell, a content strategist at Desiring God, in a blog post on the ministry's website.
Castro, a 53-year-old man from Cleveland, Ohio, 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?" writes Parnell.
Castro, who was in protective custody, was found hanging in his cell Tuesday evening. He had been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for his guilty plea to 937 counts, including kidnapping and rape.
The blogger says Christians 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," he writes.
In July, Castro told the court his addiction to pornography and "sex problems" had taken a toll on his mind. "My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind," he said. He also claimed he himself had been a sexual abuse victim.
Parnell says 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 was arrested in May 6 after one of the victims, Amanda Berry, managed to flee to the front door of his four-bedroom home and shout for help. The other two victims, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were also rescued by police.
The three women were abducted separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Castro, a former school bus driver, would tie the women to a pole, a bedroom heater or inside a van to restrain them. After being raped, Berry gave birth to a girl in 2006. Knight had miscarriages five times due to starvation and repeated beatings.
How should we respond to the suicide of a man like Castro? "Castro's suicide calls our cards to the table on who we are," Parnell suggests.
"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?" he asks.
Or would it be better for Christians to bow their 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?"
Perhaps a better question to ask is, "what kind of person are you?" the blogger concluded.