A few weekends back we had a lazy Saturday. After getting some exercise in the morning the goal was to do absolutely nothing. This was refreshing after some long weeks. On this day of laziness while switching through channels we found “Jaws” on a channel, it was at the beginning so we figured why not watch. As we watched I was struck by the internal struggles in the first half of the movie. The first half of “Jaws” is much like what can happen among family or friends should your child be molested. The key relationships to focus on are the mayor and the sheriff. The mayor represents the “bad watchman” and the sheriff represents the “good watchman” found in Ezekiel 33.
In the movie, the predator was a great white shark that was terrorizing Amity island. The shark was deceptive unsuspecting swimmers and boaters would be struck from below and then overtaken by the predator. The people on Amity Island were willing to be in the water. They either had no idea of the danger in the water, or thought that what had happened was a one-time incident. If we compare child sexual predators, what is different? Children are surprised from a situation that they believed was peaceful and calm and then find them in a situation that is anything but peaceful. Naïve parents friends or family think ‘the water’s fine’ and will allow their children around those who have had problems in the past. Just as in the movie, the water may be anything but fine.
The mayor of Amity Island was more concerned with the image of the island and more concerned with what the tourists thought of “his” island. Even though most people in the room could see there was a significant problem, and the mayor could too, he would not admit to or agree to resolve the problem until the public outcry was too great and he had to go along or lose face. The mayor of your family or friendship is the one who always seeks to keep the family or group together regardless of obvious danger. The thought of conflict or separation is something that they cannot handle. They will demand that nothing is wrong or that nothing severe enough occurred until far too many people get hurt.
The sheriff in the movie was a new hire from the New York City police department. Given the transition he thought his job would be less stressful than New York City, the last thing he imagined was that he would have a summer where he had to deal with many deaths. Immediately after the first attack the sheriff declared the cause of death a shark attack. He immediately wanted to close the beaches after and protect the public. Instead, the mayor got in the way and insisted on the beaches remaining open. It took three more attacks before the sheriff would be listened to.
Although situations regarding your family or friends may mirror the cast of characters in “Jaws”, you must remember, you are the sheriff. Unlike the movie, the mayor has no power over you. In the movie, the mayor could have removed the sheriff from the situation. In your situation the sheriff has the power to remove the mayor from the situation. You have the power to “close the beach”, or cut off contact with those who have harmed others or your children previously without getting approval from the mayor.
If you have a situation in your life where you are dealing with a predator, or a mayor that lacks perspective, or both, we hope that you will be the good watchman as you assume the role of sheriff and do right thing for your children.