Zach Anderson is in court today. Again. It’s the last place his parents, Les and Amanda Anderson, ever thought their 19-year-old son would be.
Zach is described as a “typical teen-ager. He’s into computers and wants to build a career around his love for electronics.” But his plans for the future are banished. At least for now.
It all began one night last winter when Zach was at his home in Elkhart, Indiana. He went on a racy, adult dating site and connected with a girl who lived across the state line in Michigan who claimed to be 17 years old. For about a week they flirted back and forth through texting. Finally, they arranged to meet in her home of Niles, Michigan.
Zach picked her up and drove to a playground in Niles where they had sex. About wo months later, detectives showed up at Zach’s job at a mechanic shop. It turns out the girl had lied about her age. She was only 14.
Zach was arrested. Pled guilty to a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. In addition he was placed on five years probation on both Indiana and Michigan’s sex offender registry for the next 25 years. As a convicted sex offender, the terms of Zach’s probation are incredibly strict. For the next five years, he is forbidden from owning a smart phone or using the Internet. He is not allowed to talk to anyone under age 17, other than immediate family. He is banned from going to any establishment that serves alcohol and he has to be home before 8 p.m. every night.
Zach’s probation and restrictions have imposed a major inconvenience on the Anderson’s lives. He was forced to move out of their house because he isn’t allowed to live with his 16 year old brother, sacrifice his scholarship and give up college plans. “Each week comes a new consequence that we don’t know exists for him,” said Amanda.
At Zach’s trial the girl admitted she lied and her mother even testified on Zach’s behalf.
Judge Dennis Wiley, who sentenced Zach, said he was angry that Zach had used the Internet to meet a girl. “That seems to be part of our culture now. Meet, have sex, hook up, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.”
At today’s court hearing, Zach and his parents are hoping the Judge will mitigate what they, and many others, believe is an unduly harsh sentence. Amanda Anderson said, “(What happened) doesn’t even fit our lifestyle; it doesn’t fit how we raised our kids.” Zach says his parents had always told him not to have sex before marriage.
I agree that the Judge’s sentence seems overly harsh, given the circumstances. Maybe the Judge will lighten the sentence and give Zach another chance. There is a big difference between a 40-year-old man preying on teen age girls, and two teenagers who have sex.
Both are sin. And sin is a harsh taskmaster. Its actions bring unintended and often unduly hard consequences. Sin hurts. It hurts the one sinning. And its hurts others.
Consider a woman who engages in some “innocent flirtation” with a man at the office. Six months later they’re engaged in a full-blown affair. It ultimately results in two divorces. Heart-broken spouses. And crying, confused children. Sin hurts.
A teenager gets involved with the wrong crowd. One night they decide to rob a convenient store. He just “goes along for the thrill” and sits in the car. But all are arrested. And he’s charged as an accessory to armed robbery. Sin hurts.
A man begins to drink. Just a little to calm his nerves. Soon it turns into a lot. One night he gets into his car to drive home after having “one to many” and hits a family of four head-on. All are killed, except the drunkard who’s paralyzed for life. Sin hurts.
God’s word warns: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.”
There’s an old adage that says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”
Just ask Zach Anderson.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman