Before turning the lights out last night I spent some time watching the online feed from the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, PA. The verdict had been handed down. The image I can't get out of my mind is the one of Sandusky being helped into the police cruiser and driven off, most likely never to see freedom again. It was difficult to fall asleep as worked to rewind the whole thing in my mind, wondering where, when, and how Jerry Sandusky's relationships with kids went from healthy and wholesome (if that was indeed ever the case) to horribly sick and twisted.
As we sort through the mess and fallout of this case, here are some initial things to think about. . .
- There are no winners here. The justice system may have worked, but lives have been changed forever. And like a pebble thrown into the still water of a pond, the ripples will spread far and wide for a long, long time.
- We have to listen to the victims when they courageously speak up. Children are impressionable. When an adult says something, they not only believe it, but it shapes their reality for the rest of their lives. The fear of consequences for speaking up are very real and very lasting.
- If there's anything redemptive that will come out of the Sandusky case it will most likely be the fact that victim's will be encouraged to speak up and speak out. If you work with kids, get ready and know what you're going to do when they take the risky step of opening up.
- Once again, the people closest to the perpetrators sometimes refuse to see that the one they know and love would or could ever do these things. Some refuse to ever believe it. And in their disbelief, they blame the victims.
- We are not inherently good. We are broken people who desperately need to be fixed. Until we are finally fixed once and for all at that day when Christ makes all things new, we will struggle, struggle, and struggle some more with our sin natures. Every one of us must realize that we are each only one bad decision away from being Jerry Sandusky.
- This is only the beginning. Sure, sexual abuse has been around since Genesis 3:6. When things have gone right, society tells us that it's wrong. But I'm afraid that our sexualized culture void of a moral compass is setting the table for a coming day when everyone does what's right in their own eyes. That day is not far off and might in fact have already dawned. We're nurturing a generation of kids who will grow up to perpetrate, tolerate, and perhaps even celebrate this kind of behavior.