Unless you have lived the past 20 years without watching television or reading the news, you likely know who O.J. Simpson is. If you don’t know who he is and what he may or may not have done to his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, click here.
O.J. has always remained in the spotlight and on the news since he was found both guilty and not guilty for the murders of Nicole and Ronald. He presence in the news has increased as his July 20, 2017 parole hearing draws closer.
I’m not interested in O.J. Simpson per se, but I am interested in the topic of public’s ability to forgive a person who has transformed from their harmful ,dangerous, and socially destructive ways. God, Jesus, and the prophets tell us that people can indeed change their ways.
I personally believe Simpson has narcissistic personality disorder, or some type of disorder. Because I don’t have an M.D. is Psychiatry I can’t diagnose him, but I can certainly read him! The industry that I work in involves working with a population of people, most of whom have diagnosed mental illnesses including personality disorders. I have read different research and most of the literature states that those who have personality disorders cannot change, especially those we refer to as psychopaths and sociopaths.
I don’t believe O.J. will ever change his ways, simply because he can’t. There are many who would disagree with me, and I’m alright with that. There are those who believe God is powerful enough to transform anyone, including narcissists and others with personality disorders. While I do believe God is all powerful, I don’t think he works to “heal” certain disorders. God is still God and God will always remain powerful even if people die of cancer, remain in a wheelchair for life, never get to see, or live with chronic pain their entire life.
We don’t expect God to cure every physical illness, so why do so many believe He will “cure” certain mental illnesses?
I don’t know if O.J. Simpson will be paroled and if he has or ever will change his destructive ways; but what I do know is that I don’t believe he can or ever will be able to change. There are ministries all over the world where people work to serve those whose mental illnesses create a barrier to change. It doesn’t make their ministry less effective or meaningless; it’s the opposite, I think there is even more of a need for ministry to people with mental illness.
Chronic mental health issues often lead to unemployment, poverty, marginalization, self-medication, and social isolation. These are the situations God has called us to respond to. It’s not easy dealing with the O.J. Simpsons of the world. It is easy to remember their crimes and the many victims they have harmed; however, we also have to remember that once a person is released from prison we do not have the right to mistreat them. It can be difficult in light of the harm they have done. No one is saying take them in to your home and feed them; that would be foolish.
What we are saying is please don’t judge those of us who work with released convicts, the mentally ill who harms others, the violent, and the dangerous. We are not there to excuse their wrongs, but we are there to treat them as humans; if we don’t, who else will? Remember, those with personality disorders might be your neighbours, bosses, spouse, co-worker, church leader, relative, or friend. Serving them with the love of God and a strong set of boundaries is the most humane and Christ like behaviour we can ever give.