“A Deficiency Of Love” No More

“Well, I tried to stay out of it…” That’s how I started a private email that I sent to thirteen people on October 19th. What did I try to stay out of? I tried to stay out of the messy confusion of the sexually promiscuous culture that pervades Penn State University. And now, I’m learning a lesson on the hot pavement of life that I hope I can let you learn by just taking a field trip and looking in on what’s happening in my hometown of State College, Pennsylvania. Hey, you’re probably looking in anyway. Might as well learn something. In the hopes of being instructive, I’m going to let you look in a little more deeply than I care. I think it’s wise to let you see what I wrote to those thirteen friends.

First let me say this: I’m of little importance in the situation at Penn State. I have no power. I am not the most active Christian leader in my community, and I have been almost inactive in Penn State’s spiritual culture. The most I have done in the past few years is to counsel individuals who happen to be students. Of all the people who have anything to say, I am one of the least.

Or am I?

Maybe that’s how we got ourselves into this mess to begin with. You see, I’ve been thinking: a less promiscuous culture at Penn State would not likely have changed the behavior of an (alleged) pedophile. But I do believe that a better moral culture would have produced the appropriate amount of outrage and shock in those who (it appears) turned a blind eye to little boys who needed them to be strong defenders.

When it comes down to it, we are all responsible for the moral climate around us. We make it better. We make it worse. We can say we don’t impact it, but one way or another we always do. And sometimes our silence speaks louder than words.

Ok…now that we know how unimportant I am and how crucially important we all are, let me confess my sin to you: I’ve been burdened for the moral climate at Penn State for many years. I became more concerned in 2009 when I conducted several interviews with campus women as I wrote a book on sexuality for college-aged readers. I event met with two friends about a year ago to begin talking about how we might pray our way into campus to call the women to a better lifestyle. But I never did anything! Never followed through. Never obeyed the nudge of God in my heart to go.

On October 19th of this year, it burdened me so badly that I wrote this to a few friends:

Well, I tried to stay out of it. I really did. I was asked about it more than once and turned a blind eye. But then, I sat here and it wouldn’t stop bugging me. Are were really supposed to stand by while….. [here I included some specific past cases of moral failure that I believe we should have responded to as a community but did not. It would not be fair for me to list them publicly.] Thousands of girls lose their ability to have children and a [others] die of cervical cancer [each year] because we have a breeding ground for sexually transmitted disease in our back yard.(1) We don’t have to be like this!!!

I’m usually the girl who likes to stay positive. I don’t feel so positive.
I pick up the pieces of broken Penn State students every day. So do some of you.
But sometimes we’re called to nail our thesis to the wall in defense of truth, aren’t we?
I did publish a little something of a thesis a few weeks later.
But….
Obviously it was a little late. And I am tremendously sorry that I didn’t do my part. (There are many people in State College with this same depth of regret and repentance in their heart. I’m not unique.) The truth is that I couldn’t have changed the moral climate here. My pastor couldn’t have changed it. My best friend and prayer warrior couldn’t have changed it. A student I know and love couldn’t have changed it. The most connected Christian ministry leaders on the campus couldn’t have changed it. But if we had each done what God assigned us to do…and we did it with humble hearts that were dependent upon God…maybe then we could have changed it. Maybe then the national media would not have to hold our local leaders accountable because we did not.
I’m not writing this as a catharsis.
I’m writing it in hopes that you’ll live a little differently in your own little circle of influence. No matter how small you think that influence might be. We’re each responsible to guard morality. Without morality, we become calloused and inhumane. When we live in an environment that is unmoved by sin, it can be only concluded that we no longer have love for those around us. And without love, we are nothing.
I think one of the greatest truth speakers in this entire situation has come from  a  man who really is on the front lines of the battle, Tim Henderson. He is the director of Penn State CRU, and I believe his heart is in God’s hands right now. I encourage you to listen to or read the transcript of a message he wrote and delivered to Penn State students last week entitled “A Deficiency Of Love.” It is one of the most convicting messages I’ve ever heard in my life. I warn you that the content is graphic, as it contains excerpts from the Sandusky Grand Jury Presentment. But the truth contained may convince you to act in love for the rest of your life.
It has convinced me.
I’m sorry that I did not act in love before.
Let that happen no more on my watch. Or yours.
(1) Here I am not stating that sexual active college women experience infertility or die of cervical cancer while they are students. But the argument is easily made (in perhaps another post) that many students who leave Penn State will experience one of these in the future as a result of multiple sexual partners.
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1 Comment

  • Thanks Dannah. the hope that you had in writing this, that I will live differently in my little circle of influence, worked!! I have been planning on starting a club for girls to teach them the value of purity and waiting and the value they have in who they are, not what they are. A lot of the info i am hoping to work with comes from YOU!!! from your books and your blog! SO thank you for being a source of information to a stay at home mom who wants to make a difference in her daughters (and my sons) life and in the lives of their friends – to not go with the norm, but to stand out for being pure and honest!! Tim’s message was a good one and a challenging one and I hope a lot of people take it to heart. So, yes, I am convinced like you, to act in love. Thanks for your words and your wisdom – I appreciate you more than i can convey in a comment!! Sincerely,
    Nikki

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