I live in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania, less than two hours from State College and Happy Valley. This is bedrock Penn State territory, so much so that this Buckeye fan takes considerable harassment and disrespect. It is also Joe Paterno country. Joe Pa is a larger than life icon of hard work, persistence, and generosity. But Happy Valley is not happy these days and Joe Pa has become a pariah to many. By now you are more than familiar with (and perhaps have had your fill of) the moral meltdown in Happy Valley. It is like a dark cloud that has descended upon our Commonwealth and blackened our souls as surely as an explosion of coal dust might darken our persons.
The official jury has yet to hear the case of Jerry Sandusky, but the tangled web of cover-up, feigned ignorance, and all around lack of moral courage to confront this problem many years ago has led to the firing of a university president, two other administrators, and the coach. And I need to say, that had to be. Football, institutional reputation, saving face and/or avoiding conflict are no excuse for the perpetuation of an outrage against these young victims. From my perspective, there is no more heinous crime that the sexual abuse of a child and every decent adult has an absolute moral obligation to go after and challenge any hint of such a crime. No one is exempt, including iconic coaches, powerful presidents, no one.
My perspective comes from one of the most powerful commands of God’s Word. “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Ps.82:3-4). It us reinforced by Jesus’ special concern for children: “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2)
I commend those students and faculty of the Penn State community who have not let sympathy for a coach, or embarrassment to their school to deter them from the main point – these young people have been victims of something unspeakable at the most, something reprehensible in the least. These victims will carry the scars for their lives. It is a reality that no child should ever have to encounter.