Reflecting on Joe Paterno’s firing, I’m hearing the oft-repeated phrase, “As long as I’m not hurting anybody, leave me alone.” We are told that what we do in private is our own concern. We are told by the secular community that their sin doesn’t affect anyone else. Now we see yet another example of how the sin of one individual causes the worst to come out in all those around him. Joe Paterno was fired Wednesday for his sin of omission, as was the president of the university, Graham Spanier. Certainly we can see that Jerry Sandusky’s sin has brought down a beloved coach and university president. We could say the same thing about the sins of the Enron directors. All of the stockholders of that company paid for the sins of those men who made decisions without regard for others.
In my mind, this is why the Bible tells us that whether we like it or not, we are accountable to one another. We have a responsibility to hold ourselves and others accountable. Where were the Christians in Jerry Sandusky’s life who could have spoken truth to him? Where were the honorable in Enron’s upper leadership who could have stopped things before they got out of control?
2 myths of our day need to finally be dispelled right now. The first is that we live in a moral vacuum. In this current culture’s rush to declare everything acceptable, we see that everything isn’t really acceptable; at least, not when acceptable means allegations of sodomy against young boys. NAMBLA (search the term, you'll be surprised what people try to do in the light of day) might beg to differ, but it’s pretty obvious that society still does not consider a boy under 12 able to decide on his relationship preferences. So we aren’t really as secular and egalitarian as we’d like to believe. We do not live in a moral vacuum. We live in the light of God’s laws written on our hearts and conscience. We can’t escape it. It is our job as Christians to gently and winsomely lead the way for those who don’t know God. We should be modeling not only right behavior, but right accountability and right community.
The second myth is that we can make it on our own. Our polarized society would like us to believe differently. We now have single serving soups because the over 50% of the population that is single can’t be bothered to have a meal with anyone. Or more truthfully, those with friends are failing to reach out to those with few or none. Jerry Sandusky needed a real friend many years ago. Now the adage from the Bible has proven true again: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) I do sympathize with him, but I’m sorrier for his victims. I’m sorry for all of the people that this one man’s sin has now affected. Jerry could not really make it alone, even though he had wealth and prestige. Neither can we.
Let this be an example to society at large that despite our protests, God says there is a better way to live. Let this be a lesson to the Christians: we are called to be salt and light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. I think everyone can agree that the actions of Jerry Sandusky if proven true, are perverse. Christians (myself included) need to stop worrying so much about the work they are doing, the leisure they may be missing, and the retirement for which they are planning. People are hurting all around us. God has not called all of us to specific Christian ministry because our mission fields are the workplace, the office, the home, the ball field, the community center, the skating rink. I guarantee you there is a Christian somewhere in Jerry Sandusky’s life who did not heed the call of the Spirit to say something years ago. I’m sad for all of us who let our brothers and sisters down in this way.
Now there will be justice in some form delivered by the hand of Man. But we will give an account to God someday as well. I pray we all learn the lesson that it is important to be vitally involved. If we had done a better job of that, perhaps there would be 8 human beings, children of God, who would not have to wear the moniker of “victim.”