I enjoy reading crime thrillers and am not deterred by gruesome descriptions and gory detail. I also enjoy watching crime dramas especially Scandinavian and other foreign series such as The Killer usually shown on BBC 4.

Last year I watched a Canadian series called The Sinner which had me gripped from start to finish with a shocking ending.

In this story, we see a young mother out for a day at the beach with her husband and young son. For no apparent reason she takes the knife she was using for cutting fruit and stabs to death a young man sat nearby with his family.

She was arrested, of course, and can give no explanation for her actions. Her crime was witnessed by lots of people and she says she didn’t know the man she stabbed. She offers no defence or explanation. No one can understand why she has done this, and everyone wants to see her convicted and put in prison. The community is devastated. They assume she is crazy.

Amongst all the people who condemn her, there is one detective (there’s always a maverick detective who doesn’t follow the rules!) who feels that there must be something else to this case. Against all the advice from his colleagues, he befriends the woman and sets out doggedly to find out if anything in her previous life and experience could have caused her to behave this way.

He uncovers a history of a disturbed family and unhappy teenage relationships. He finds an explanation of events that contributed to the terrible crime. He builds up a relationship with the woman where he can delve into her past and provide explanations and reasons for her behaviour leading up to her crime.

So what has this got to do with us? at the end of the series, I had a lot of things to consider in relation to my own life. We are all sinners. We may not commit terrible crimes, but we all do things that require someone to listen and understand.

How often do we condemn people without being fully aware of the facts or the history behind the way people behave? We all have things in our childhood and upbringing that make us behave in a certain way often unconsciously and cannot always give explanations for our opinions and behaviour. We are all different

Can we be like the detective who would not accept things at face value even though the evidence was clear but looks for reasons and explanations before condemning people?  How often do we take time to listen to each other before making a judgment? How much time are we prepared to spend to really get to the truth and understand about each other’s behaviour and why we do the things we do.

If we look at ourselves, we can see a lot of behaviours that are not very nice, we hear ourselves say things about and to other people that are very critical and judgemental. This happens in all areas of life and work but as a Christian community in the church, we should work hard to show the unconditional love and acceptance that Jesus had for all people he met, especially those condemned by society and branded as sinners. He has the same unconditional love for us today.

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbour?” James 4:12

Author: Barbara Kenny