"I Am Not a Monster":
The Tragic Life and Death of Ariel Castro
You may remember Ariel Castro. He's the man from Cleveland, Ohio who kidnapped the three young women and kept them as his sex slaves for over ten years. His trial and conviction filled the news this summer.
Tuesday evening of this week, Ariel Castro hanged himself to death in his prison cell outside Cleveland. A little over a month ago, he had been sentenced to 1,000 years in prison -- that's right -- 1,000 years -- for the kidnapping of three young girls for a decade. His crimes beyond kidnapping, included torture, rape, and murder of an unborn -- over 900 criminal counts.
At his sentencing before Judge Michael J. Russo, Ariel Castro made his most provocative statement, when he declared, "I am not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick." He admitted to over 900 crimes including rape, murder, and assault, yet insisted that he was "not a violent person." He claimed that his problems arose from sexual addiction and pornography.
Our hearts turn immediately to Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus, the three women he so terribly abused. We must ask if true justice is even possible with respect to them. No amount of punishment can reclaim the last 11 years -- years they spent in hell. Even now, after Castro's suicide, they are left to re-gather the pieces of their lives shattered by this evil man.
When we look at cases like Ariel Castro, we recoil against such terrible and horrific crimes. He puts a face on moral evil, and we are repulsed that human beings could do such things. There is no question as to the extreme darkness and distortion that had invaded his life. In psychological terms, he would be called a sociopath. From a Christian point of view, we would say that he was a man deceived, entrapped, and destroyed by the devil.
People like Ariel Castro prove to us that tangible evil exists in our world. Extreme cases such as his show us a side of human existence that is horrifying. But, it is far too easy to file them away as crazy, sick, weird, or pathological. The Bible speaks of him by the simple category "sinner." Ariel Castro's basic problem was not psychological or chemical. It was spiritual. In him, the sin that affects each one of us found full expression. The demons met no inhibition and worked their worst.
Human beings are the one part of creation that bears the image of God. As such, we are the focal point of a gigantic cosmic war -- between Almighty God and a fallen angel we refer to as the devil. Since Satan cannot get at God, he has taken aim at the thing that looks most like Him -- you and me.
Occasionally, we hear of men or women who by an act of their will give themselves completely over to evil. The results show us what the enemy of our souls really wants -- death, destruction, suicide, the list goes on.
Ariel Castro WAS a monster. But, he was not a monster because of some congenital disorder. He was a monster because he gave himself over to sin.
Ariel Castro was NOT a normal person. Thank God for His grace that has kept most of us from yielding to the depravity that has shadowed us since Adam. Castro WAS normal in that he was a sinner, but he was not normal in how he caved in to sin.
Ariel Castro was indeed sick. But, in our therapeutic culture, sickness sounds like a cop-out. His sickness did not make him another faultless victim. His sickness was a condition of the soul that came from the lack of the Savior.
It is a good thing that very few sinners go as far as Ariel Castro. But make no mistake. The very same disease that afflicted him seeks to destroy each of us. From one of the earliest stories of Scripture in Genesis 4, God speaks to us today. It is a call to obedience and integrity. God says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, SIN LIES AT THE DOOR. And its desire is to rule you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:7).
In the final analysis, we can only rule over sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Him who conquered sin. With Him, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Without Him, we are all monsters.