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Fighting for Justice

Dr. Michael Stovall addresses the issue of fighting for justice in light of recent events at Penn State University.

The tragedy that has rocked State College, Pennsylvania, Penn State University and the entire nation is likely far from over. As with any scandalous situation, the longer the investigation goes on the more we learn about how sordid and sad the extent of the problem reaches. The one thing that struck me as most disappointing so far was the outrage and rioting over the firing of a football coach but not for the injustice that was allowed to happen on multiple occasions to young boys. The events that are being unfolded in the plain sight of a watching world are spiritual by nature. I happen to believe that every issue is a spiritual issue. It is a moral issue and somewhere along the line real men should have fought for justice.

We have a moral responsibility to acknowledge when an evil injustice has occurred and then fight for justice to be delivered to the situation and everyone involved. Men of courage will fight for justice, especially for those who cannot fight for themselves. A man of courage is one who has chosen to stand up and become fixed on doing what is right. The tragedy with Penn State and the firing of the legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, reminds us that being "innocent" is not the standard for leadership; rather, being above reproach is the standard for leadership.

What we DON'T know ... We do not know all of the sordid details of all that has happened. Likely we will not know everything for quite a while, if even then. We do not know who did what and when others knew about it. This will have to wait for a thorough investigation.

What we DO know ... We do know that something horrific occurred on multiple occasions from an adult to innocent boys. You would have to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to pretend that you do not know something terrible happened. We also know that several others knew about what was going on. These included persons with direct responsibility for reporting the events to the proper authorities. We can know that a single decision can change the lives of many people. We can know that being passive about fighting for justice leaves an unnecessary trail of victims directly and indirectly.

What we CAN'T say ... Regardless of what our intuition tells us, we are in no place to judge the motives of the adults involved. We can say that what it appears they did was wrong (i.e., inappropriate behavior with children, not reporting to authorities), but we can cannot pass judgment on their motives. For instance, I do not know what was going through Jerry Sandusky's mind. I just know that it could not have been pure and good because of the behavior it led to on his part. I also cannot act like I know what was going through the minds of Joe Paterno, the Athletic Director and the President of Penn State. I just know that evidently they did not consider the problem to be worth fighting for justice based on their actions.

What we CAN say ... We can rightly say that there was not enough done to protect the innocent and hold the guilty accountable and responsible. We can say that good men, though they may be legally innocent, did not fight for justice. We can say that the behavior of adults was inappropriate, even sinful.

What is the threshold for "doing enough" when it comes to fighting for justice? The Bible teaches, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). In their book The Resolution for Men, Alex and Stephen Kendrick flesh out God's expectations:

  • To act justly - to deal fairly and honestly with others, to confront evil both in ourselves and our society, and to intervene on behalf of the weak, vulnerable, mistreated, and oppressed.
  • To love mercy - to discern the physical and spiritual needs of others, and to represent the hands and heart of Christ to people who desperately need help, compassion, and deliverance from evil and injustice.
  • To walk humbly with your God - to live a circumspect and selfless life before Him, devoted to Him and to His Word, exercising our faith and love in a way that actively, consistently honors Him and His lordship (p. 132).

Fighting for justice is mandatory for us because it reflects our Creator's compassion for people. God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). No other part of God's creation was created with this characteristic. This means that mankind is the pinnacle of God's creation. It also means that we were created with the capacity to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, an attack on another person is an attack on the image of God. Fighting for justice is a spiritual and moral issue that requires good men to make courageous choices.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Charles Black November 29, 2011 at 09:45 PM
There is big money and a lot of pressure to win on theses guys. I think Joe did the same thing the guy in Luke 18:23 did, He took the money and fame.
James Bell December 02, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Michael this rant is absurd! I want to know what is going on in your mind. Of course we can judge on the motive of these men. You call raping a 10 year old boy "inappropriate? You act like they wore the wrong tie with the wrong shirt. That's inappropriate! Passing gas at the dinner table is inappropriate! What these men did was criminal. This is not a moral issue, it's criminal matter. Are you calling Paterno "innocent"? Of course WE don't know all the details of what took place with these boys, but the grand jury report is detailed enough to know the whole damn system failed these young men in the name of a stupid game and the reputation of a losers like Paterno. I know what was going on in Sandusky's mind. He thought he was untouchable because of the inaction of other who knew he was raping and abusing these boys for years for his own perverted pleasure and chose not to take the action necessary to stop it. They place the trivial game of football ahead of the violation of numerous boys. I am sure if it was your son you would find more appropriate bible verses that doesn't attempt to trivialize this travesty. What we need now is for the court and prison system to do the right thing and prosecute these men to full extent of the laws. Then they will find JUSTICE! Jesus can sort it all out later. JB

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