Sunday, October 11, 2009

Death of a Good Man

That 1960s song “what’s it all about?” plays in my mind occasionally as I think – endlessly, it seems – about this event, or series of events really.

It’s been a week since David Dewees, the Jarvis Collegiate teacher who committed suicide after being arrest on charges of luring, and invitation to touch. He was my son’s section head at Pioneer Camp this past summer.
Aidan, 16, revered David. Such a great guy, a good man, so much fun, the most amazing Bible study leader, a gifted teacher so inspiring that Aidan has started to consider that vocation -- the kudos seemed endless.

The whole affair has taken on huge moral proportions – great men sin (and women) – and where do we find God in it, and where do we find right judgment in it. I bring up the idea of moral dilemma in trying to find ways to discuss this tragic thing to Aidan. The truth must out and yet is the whole truth may be lost to us forever with David’s death. We must protect our children, yes. But what of the hundreds of children whose lives were touched, positively, and changed forever on account of his example? And what of those who will never benefit from his probing questions, his exuberance, his musical genius, his deep and abiding love of Christ? Is David’s life now completely discounted because of his suicide, and even more by what led to it?

We heard things that make for unclear judgments, moral ambiguities, which we aim to examine in both the stark light of God’s truth and the compassion of Christ’s grace. Aidan understands that one must judge another on how he presents himself to us, and not on what others may say. But he and his friends talk and some of them are deeply hurt: “I thought I knew him,” said one. “How could he do this,” cries another.

Aidan has thought about this, and concludes that he can forgive David for being something other than what he may have thought he was. Nobody is two-dimensional, we all have dark sides – witness great King David, who loved God mightily and yet arranged another man’s murder so he could steal his wife.

Aidan doesn’t really understand what made Yukon (Dewees’ camp name) take his own life, but I can imagine: despair, shame, humiliation and the weakness we all suffer from – disbelief that God could possibly bring any good out of this mess.