“Devastating immorality justifies harsh penalties"
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Pierre Eade is the Pastor of Outreach at Washington Crossing United Methodist Church. He holds a Masters of Arts degree in Religion with a concentration in Evangelism and Church Planting from Liberty University. Pierre's writings on the Christian life can be found on his website: www.christiangrowthnetwork.com. Pierre and his wife Amanda have three children - two joys and a pearl.
Too harsh? The Penn State scandal and ensuing penalties have brought a sobering question back to surface: What are the appropriate consequences for those involved in covering up the acts of a pedophile?
Some have argued that the penalties inflicted by the NCAA were too harsh. The monetary fine was too costly. The restriction from bowl games and reduction of scholarships were too devastating. The removal of 111 Paterno wins was unjust and even unethical.
Harsh. Costly. Devasting. Unjust. Unethical. Sound familiar?
Jerry Sandusky took innocent boys and made them the victims of his sexually perverted passion. Young lives were vandalized and forever changed. The late Joe Paterno and other administrative heads at Penn State covered up the heinous acts of Sandusky to save face of their glorious football program.
Let’s repeat these words together: Harsh. Costly. Devasting. Unjust. Unethical.
Some may argue, “Those football players who worked so hard didn’t deserve to lose credit for the games they won.” Maybe not, but neither did the victims deserve the violation they received. The consequences of immorality and particularly that of a sexual nature, always stretch beyond the offender. When a person chooses to step outside the confines of their marriage to sow seeds of unfaithfulness, it causes a ripple effect not only in their marriage, but also in the lives of their children and community.
Jesus had some alarming things to say about those who harm children. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) Ouch! That sounds awfully harsh, Jesus. A millstone around the neck? Maybe the loss of 111 wins isn’t too harsh after all.
Jesus wasn’t finished there. He said, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” (Matthew 18:8-9)
What was Jesus’ point? Does he really want us to cut off our limbs and gouge out our eyes? Not likely. His words are spoken as hyperbole. They are meant to shock us into taking immediate and decisive action against any sinful behavior. If Jesus’ words were taken to heart by those in power at PSU, they would have exposed Sandusky and cut him off immediately in order to save themselves from the destruction and turmoil they now face. But they did the opposite. They not only kept quiet, they actually protected a pedophile! Instead of plucking out their eyes, they put on sunglasses. Instead of cutting off their hands, they put on gloves to cover up the fingerprints of sin.
When as a culture we look to defend a football program above the lives of human people, we know that our worldview has been twisted and our moral compass is out of alignment. The next time someone tries to argue that the penalties against Penn State were too harsh, ask them to describe what they think happened in the showers of those locker rooms – a horrific thought!
The next time someone moans about the loss of 111 wins, ask them how it would feel to lose your virginity involuntarily by a man whom you once trusted. The next time someone states that $60 million is too costly, ask them how much the protection of their own children is worth.
The sad reality is that no punishment will ever restore the innocence or heal the wounds of the victims. Only by the grace of God and the precious blood of Jesus can these sins be forgiven and these wounds be healed. The same Jesus who warns of the dangers of immorality freely offers forgiveness and healing to all who will repent of their sins and call upon His name.
Printed in theBucks County Courier Times, August 22, 2012 (Levittown, PA)
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