Andrew Schmutzer, professor at Moody Bible Institute, wrote an excellent article on the aftermath of the retired football coach Jerry Sandusky in the EFCA digital monthly update. Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 counts against him in the Penn State sexual abuse fiasco. It is certainly a time for soul-searching for all of us – again. I don’t write to add judgment against Sandusky, but I don’t write to make excuses for his wicked actions.
Schmutzer said there were two lessons we should grapple with on this national spotlight. First, there was a “collective moral failure at Penn State which revealed the danger of motivated blindness.” It wasn’t just Sandusky, but reporting “up the chain” failed to prevent a school littered with broken lives. Money blinded the leadership. Secondly, there is a “problem of disenfranchised grief.” Schmutzer writes,
The cultural shame that kept Sandusky’s victims silent for so long, including his own adopted son, also works its poison in the ‘sacred silence’ of our churches. Faith communities promote the disenfranchised grief of victims when sexual abuse:
· Is not holistically understood
· Is not intentionally named
· Is not publicly mourned
· Is not educationally framed
· Is not homiletically engaged.
There are few actions that will leave a darker blot on the life of the church than sexual abuse. My prayer as I reflect on our policies at Grace is that we never want to get close to allowing an environment where “it could happen.” I’m thankful for the leadership implementing policies for adult/child teaching and shepherding relationships as well as policies related to male/female appearances of evil.
Let me ask you to assess what we do so that something like this would never be named at Grace. May we always be a place where all people can feel safe and protected from any predator and that we would practice biblical discipline should any appearance of evil be noted.