“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!!!