Last Wednesday night Erin and I returned from church and sat down to watch some tv. As usual my dear wife didn’t last too long and I was able to switch from shows to ESPN. On ESPN I watched all the drama unfolding at Penn State with the firing of the school’s president and Coach Paterno. I then watched the ensuing student riots and all the interviews that took place. As I watched all this I realized I was seeing examples of taking a stand for what’s right and also not taking a stand and letting sin go on.
Most people already know the situation at Penn State where a graduate assistant in 2002 caught a coach molesting a young boy in the shower. He reported the incident to Coach Paterno who reported it to the higher ups at the university. Even though this wasn’t the first incident the powers that be chose to handle the matter internally barring Coach Sandusky from any contact with youth at the campus. The one thing that they should have done though was report the matter to the authorities which was never done, and probably allowed Sandusky to continue to be a sexual predator until his arrest last week. Coach Paterno and several others had the opportunity to take a stand for the defenseless children and get this creep off the streets for almost 9 years or longer. Yet, they never stepped up and most of them have now lost their jobs as a result.
As the news of Paterno’s firing was unfolding and the students were rioting destroying property and a tv news van, ESPN was interviewing students for their reaction. Most of the students didn’t seem to care that the coach had not done the right thing and made the situation about a football coach rather than children being molested. Yet, in the midst of thousands of angry students, one student in a gray sweatshirt boldly told ESPN reporters that the school and done the right thing and that the students were wrong in their reactions. Here was a student in a dangerous situation with thousands of his classmates and peers saying the exact opposite who had the courage to take a stand and do/say the right thing. Yet the school’s coaches didn’t have that peer pressure of thousands and didn’t have to make a choice in a split second, they had years, and they wouldn’t take the stand and do what’s right.
For the past two FCA Huddles I have led at LCHS and LCMS we talked to the students about these examples. While maybe not to this extreme God gives us chances daily to stand for what’s right and for Him. Are we like the coaches who have no safety issues and still won’t make the right choice, or are we like the bold student who will do what’s right even if thousands are against us? The big issue with Penn State is not about football or a coaching legend’s tenure, its about a failure to do what’s right and protect children. No matter how big or small I pray we won’t cower away from the opportunities and responsibility to stand up for what’s right, to stand up for the defenseless, and to make right decisions without hesitation.