It was Warren Jeff’s body language, that of a nervous man with something to hide, that raised suspicion in a Nevada State Trooper Monday night, leading to a search of his vehicle, a positive identification of the fugitive polygamist, and his arrest. A routine traffic stop finally put an end to his flight…like we’ve never heard that story before.
I couldn’t be happier that this guy is now where he belongs. Utah will be prosecuting first, although I understand there is a long line of states who are waiting. It’s the backstory, though, that really wrenches at my gut.
Jeffs was a tyrant. He ruled a reclusive sect of fundamentalists, teaching them that he held the key to their eternal salvation, and that they were to follow his guidelines on whom they should marry and when. I understand that each man had to have three wives in order to reach Heaven. Girls had to marry at whatever age he decided. If anyone refused these terms, he simply with-held their marriages, and, therefore, their salvation. Very similar to the history of the Roman Catholic Church, who with-held the sacraments from kings (and, in the belief system of the time, thereby with-held salvation from the king) in order to bend the political structure to their will. It’s the same perversion on a smaller scale. Somewhere, at some point in this guy’s delusional head, he became the bearer of eternal destiny for his followers.
And he did it in the name of God.
Incidentally, I think God is very unhappy with this. At no point in the Scriptures does God ever validate polygamy. Likewise, He never ties marriage into eternal destiny. Somehow, though, people buy into these, and other, lies. I think that it is frequently because few people want to actually read the Scriptures for themselves, and would rather blindly believe what someone who has read them (supposedly) has to say about them, and about God, and about Jesus.
This is much bigger than we realize, the core issue much deeper. We want to believe that there is order in our chaotic and screwed up world, something bigger than our dead-end lives, something that makes the day-to-day routine make sense, something worth striving for. We want to believe that there is something, Someone, bigger than us. By definition, this Someone has to be different than us, and separate from us, otherwise He would be us. And if He were us, then life would be terribly pointless and depressing (even for the narcissist among us). In short, we all want to believe in God. We’re all seeking Him at some level. And when someone claims to be doing something on His authority, many rush into whatever pop culture fad is being sold. God has become a commodity. He has become an excuse. He has become justification for sexually frustrated pedophiles with superiority complexes to ruin the lives of countless “followers.”
I think God is furious when people pervert His name like this.
The spiritual journey upon which each of us embark is one that seeks a real God…not the version of Him that is sold and preached in our consumer society. There is a God that we know is up there, even if we want to fool ourselves into thinking that we don’t believe. But, if God is Who He says He is in the Scriptures, then maliciously harming each other is not His desire for us…it’s not in His character. These things are not what He wants. God is love. He personifies all that is pure about love. We all want to be loved. After the sacrifice He has made for us, I can only imagine the fury that burns in His heart when fanatics like Jeffs do what they do.
Unfortunately, there is a thin line between faith and fanaticism, and when we go wrong, we go really wrong.
I don’t think it was coincidence that a trooper stopped Jeffs on Monday. It wasn’t coincidence that Jeffs committed a traffic violation, or that he was nervous, or that the trooper remembered his training, and eventually recognized Jeffs. None of these events Monday happened by accident. They happened, I think, because God got sick of him. Because He was sick of seeing His name dragged through the mud. Perhaps His heart was broken as some young girl who had been violated under Jeffs command cried out to Him, uncertain that He even existed. And He showed up in a real way. His justice was served. His compassion was shown. His reputation, at some level, restored.
He’s good for that.