With the sordid details of the alleged Penn State child abuse scandal we are reminded yet again that character and integrity does matter. Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in NCAA division one history has gone from being the proverbial "king of Pennsylvania" to a disgraced coach who was fired for allegedly covering up a child abuse incident that had taken place in the Penn State locker room by an assistant football coach. The ramifications of the incident will have long lasting repercussions not only upon the Penn State University and alumni, but more so upon the victims of these alleged crimes.
When those who are held in high esteem become entangled in scandal the question often arises as to how these great icons can rise to such great heights of prominence and yet fall to such extreme depths of despair seemingly overnight.
This scandal is reminiscent of the abuse scandal that King David was involved in. King David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel at the age of 17. It was David who had slain the great Philistine warrior Goliath with a rock and sling shot. David had been made a national hero. David assumes the kingship and goes forth leading the Israelite army to victory over her enemies. As the years passed David begins to spend his time in the palace enjoying his prestige instead of being out on the battlefield leading the troops. One day as David was strolling on his palace roof he spots a woman bathing. Instead of David being a man of character and integrity he allowed his lust for this beautiful woman to lead to an adulterous relationship, which results in a child being conceived. David then embarked upon a cover up to hide his sin. His cover up would involve murder, deceit, and the birth of an illegitimate child. David was able to cover up his sin for about a year until he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. David did finally confess to both Nathan and God and repented of his sin, but he never regained his place of prominence as the great king who had been known for "being a man after God's own heart."
Pastor Randy Mason
It was said of Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program that they were "too big to fail" yet it appears as though the Penn State football program may take years to recover from the scandalous actively. King David also would have been considered "too big to fail" yet he failed and became a disgraced king.
Many different reasons could be cited as to the reasons for the fall of the Penn State coach and football program, but I think the point is this. When power, prestige, money, and winning at any cost become the priority of our life we are headed for disaster. "When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." (Proverbs 11:2-3) I do not purport to know the heart and mind of Joe Paterno, but certainly he had the power to stop the alleged abuse and come to the defense of the innocent children, but instead chose to do otherwise for reasons that are curious.
At the end of our life it really will not matter how many ball games we won, or how high we were able to climb the corporate ladder, or how many people we held sway over. What will matter foremost is our relationship with Jesus Christ and secondly our relationship with the people that crossed our path in this life. The writer of Proverbs says, "The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)
The scandal at Penn State is yet another reminder of how broken we are as sinful creatures. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families as well as the many good people of Pennsylvania and Penn State University.