As I have read, watched, and listened to various reports of what has been referred as “The Penn State sex abuse scandal,” I have been saddened. It saddens me to see how many people are affected by one man’s actions, and other’s lack of action, or at least inadequate actions. I see a list of affected people:
- The sex abuse victims
- The victim’s family members
- Coach Joe Paterno and his family
- The former Penn State President and his family
- Current Penn State Students
- Penn State Alumni
- The residents of State College, Pennsylvania
- The NCAA football family
- Penn State football fans
- The family and friends of the alleged abuser
- And a whole host of other people
At the time of this writing, there have been allegations which appear to have been accepted as truth based on the “accusations” and “investigation” themselves and not on the “final” conclusions– This also saddens me. I viewed video of student’s and others violently reacting to the news of Coach Joe Paterno being fired and this also is saddening.
I worked as a child welfare social worker for nearly a decade and much of that time I investigated reported child abuse cases. One of the many things that was repeatedly reinforced to me during those investigations was to not make any conclusions until I had gathered all of the information I could. There were cases in which the reports were correct, others in which they were not correct, and yet others which were far worse than reported. It was not always easy to find the truth and even when I thought I had all the information and knew the truth, I would have to spend hours in court and on the witness stand testifying to the results of my investigation. It was not always clear-cut and many times the investigations and court hearings were very messy, but regardless of the mess or the outcome, I always conducted myself with integrity, which meant, even in the mess, there was a certain amount of peace in my heart.
Life is messy, people can be messy, and yes this situation will be messy and there will be many things we can learn from it, but one I want to point out is that sexual sin, regardless of its social acceptability is never worth the cost and sadness it creates. One incident of a lapse of integrity, can cause 60 years of good work to be tarnished.
In the Old Testament we read the story of Moses and how he messed up one time and it cost him reaching the destination of the promise land, but God himself buried Moses. Though God is Just, regardless of our sin, He gives grace and his mercies are new every morning.