During the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), English law provided a way for “sinners” to find refuge.
If a criminal or debtor wanted to flee to safety, he would travel to the famous Durham Cathedral in northeast England. There, the criminal pounded on the cathedral’s north door and then waited for someone to usher him in. At night, two men waited in a room above the north door, looking for sanctuary seekers arriving in the dark.
Once inside, the criminal confessed his crime to a priest, paid a small fee for room & board, and donned a black gown. He then had 37 days to decide whether to stand trial or leave the country. If the criminal chose to leave England, the law afforded him 9 days to make it to the border. For the journey, he wore a long white robe and carried a wooden cross. The cross guaranteed his safe passage.
What do you think about this practice? Would you favor it for OUR country . . . TODAY?
In other words, how would you feel about a murderer, rapist, or child molester being able to run to a church, say, First Baptist, and be granted protection? And not only protection, but the opportunity for a fresh start in Canada or Mexico?
I suspect few of us would be “comfortable” with this. We want the guilty punished, not let go.
The medieval sanctuary law was patterned after the mercy & grace of God. That was its model and inspiration.
The reality is this: Whatever sin we commit, however many times we fail, God waits in the night of our souls, swinging open His broad door of grace when we flee to Him and repent. He accepts us however we arrive.