We who write for thefrontieratgrace.com often comment on sports themes, but rarely does the intersection between sports and life get this much press. Yesterday the NCAA leveled extremely strong penalties against Penn State in connection with the infamous Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, including a $60 million fine, a 4-year bowl ban, loss of 20 scholarships for 4 years, and forfeiture of a decade and a half of wins. The day before, Penn State officials took down the statue of Joe Paterno. How symbolic.
Maybe it is more common in our age for revered figures to fall from grace; at the very least such falls receive more intense scrutiny and publicity nowadays. The question for us today is not, “Have you heard about a leader whose legacy was forever tainted?” but rather, “What is your thought process when you hear about such things?”
Many thoughtful Christian men will respond to the scandal by calling themselves and others to renewed watchfulness, accountability, and boundary-setting. And certainly there is a place for that. Sadly, though, I sense that our resolve to “make sure something like this doesn’t happen to me” sometimes degenerates into legalism and a false sense of security in our own efforts.
Why is this? Because the state of a man’s heart determines his behavior, not the other way around (Luke 6:43–45).
If the sanctions leveled against Penn State remind us of the gravity of sin and humble us as we reflect on our own fallibility, so be it.
Let us not forget, though, that all moral failings ultimately come from within, not from without.
So while we men may erect boundaries to protect ourselves from ourselves, we must also take down boundaries we have built in our hearts against the God who makes us holy. And it is the latter of the two construction projects that is most important.