16 March 2006

Romans 1:21-32

posted by Phil Johnson

This heartbreaking series of arrest photos is a graphic reminder of what a cruel taskmaster iniquity can be—and how utterly irrational it is that fallen humanity loves sin rather than hating it.

Mug Shots



jerarbw said...


yo said...

Who is that? Do we know?

I'm curious - why the NKJV?

Mike Ratliff said...

The wages of sin start taking its toll way before the death. How aweful...

Anonymous said...

My goodness. When I see people like that I wonder how they've managed to stay alive as long as they have.

Growing up I lived on one end of my little rural town, and went to church (and school) on the other end.

Now as part of my job I spend a lot of time downtown. I think I've maybe seen a face or two that look kind of like some of those. Makes me want to cry, I guess.


Anne H. said...

"Hell itself does not contain greater monsters of iniquity than you and I might become. Within the magazine of our hearts there is power enough to destroy us in an instant, if omnipotent grace did not prevent." --C.H. Spurgeon

Udarnik said...

Yes, Phil, it is true. I work in a community, which is a hideout... not much law enforcement presence... lots of meth used in the past, manufactured now. It's rural and folks move up from the city to "God's country," not realizing what they're getting their kids into. I've been there since 1988 and it has worn on me, watching the familiar progression you presented with the photos.

However, there are stories of redemption and some escape the spiral. Praise God... though we are all born to be bad, He has mercy on some and His purpose stands:

Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:11 - 15

By His grace,


PietyHill Press

Tim Adeney said...

a painful reminder that sin is both a tragedy and an atrocity

donsands said...

"We think of God as a miser of happiness, keeping back from us all that would make us happy. We think that by running away from Him we will be happy, wild, and free. But it doesn't work that way. Instead of happiness we find misery. Instead of freedom we find the debilitating bondage of sin." - James Boice, Romans Vol.1

"But for the grace of God.."

candy said...

Bo mentioned meth. That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the drastic changes in this girl. How sad.

4given said...

heartwrenching illustration of the downward spiral of self-destruction

fickett said...

We were discussing the terrible news story where a 38-year-old mother cheered on her son and his gangster friends as they allegedly took turns raping a 23-year-old woman.

When they showed her picture on the news I was sure they had her age wrong, but you can see her picture at:


It reminded me of Psalm 38:3-8

There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

DJP said...

Whatever she bought, it wasn't what the sales pitch said, was it? And isn't that quite literally always the way of sin?

John Piper says so well in Future Grace, "No one sins out of duty." But they sure do sin after it's stopped being "fun" (Hebrews 11:25), holding on to the false promise that hooked them in the first place, but now perhaps too committed in pride and cognitive dissonance to consider the truth of it.

4given said...

What is interesting to me is looking into the eyes of these women... including the 38 year old mother (who is my age). THeir eyes, the seeming window to their empty soul.
I teach my children sign language. The sign for sin is interesting: you use both hands making the letter "x" with your fingers, starting at your eyes and spiraling downward.

4given said...

I meant to write "signing the letter X with each hand" Which is a fist with the pointer finger bent in a crook.

Scribe said...

"The way of the transgressor is hard" (Proverbs 13:15). It is the life of hell lived prior to arrival.

Chris Freeland said...

I for one, think it's disrespectful for you to post photos of Pecadillo's girlfriend online when he's away at the academy and can't defend her honor.

Anonymous said...

This woman needs our prayers.
My heart breaks for her sin and blindness.
I'm going to pray for her today.

Gordon said...

There is the old saying:

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.

3EFC Blog said...


I am also reminded of Piper's, "Desiring God." In it he quotes Pascal, "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end ... This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

Those mugs are a stark reminder that that happiness we are all motivated to attain is only found in One - our living God.

Rod said...

Wow...pictures do have a way of putting theological truths into perspective.

I had the same feeling when I saw this picture a couple of months ago.

Here's the article.

Thanks be to God for His work of grace in my life in saving me from a hard and battered appearance.

DJP said...

You know, Righteous...fied, when I look at it that way anew, it's even sadder. You took take those pictures as laying out a tragic narrative.

In the first shot, she's a pretty young girl with a mischievous smile, as if she's just been caught doing something fun and maybe a little naughty. But it's still fun for her. She's bought the package, it seems to be working for her, and she thinks this is going to bring her happiness.

But as the pictures go on the story unfolds, and her hardening, saddening, increasingly embittered face tells the tale. What she bought isn't what she was sold. It's working less and less for her.

But she's committed herself to it, and still believes that it's her only way. It still might deliver. Maybe she doesn't know another way.

It also makes you think, doesn't it, of what C. S. Lewis said? To wit:

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." (The Weight of Glory, pp. 14f., quoted here)

Sometimes the "then" peeks through into the "now." God grant a change in this woman's heart.

Carol said...

Interesting discussion. I wonder what we'll do or say to her when she shows up at the well with her water jug.

I'm with Susan. She looks like she needs someone praying for her. Maybe that's never happened before?

Phil Johnson said...

Actually, I tried to find out the name and some background info on the woman in the pictures. I couldn't find anything reliable. But a couple of sources said she died in 1997, a few months after the final mug shot.

There are literally tens of thousands of people in our country who are in the same situation. They do desperately need our prayers.

Just a reminder, though: our duty to help them doesn't stop with prayer. Prayer is actually the easy part.

donsands said...

We can show God we love Him the most, by loving the "least of these". Matt. 25:40

yo said...

"Thanks be to God for His work of grace in my life in saving me from a hard and battered appearance."

Likewise, Lord, I thank you that I am not like that woman over there.

Well timed comment, Phil. Prayer is the easy part, in comparison to actually getting our hands dirty and watching our money go to "lost" causes.

Thanks for checking for her background.