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Jerry Sandusky and the Decline of American Morals

The latest buzz in the media world has centered on the sexual scandal at Penn State. News of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of young boys has caused a ruckus. Though I’m not in favor of the actions Sandusky committed and believe them to be sinful, let me explore something with you. The allegations of Sandusky’s actions are horrific, if true. But I also find it ironic when the American rule of morality has come to be relativistic and our moral ruler is measured by the motto of “whatever makes you happy.” This irony was no more apparent than when I overheard an ESPN analyst ask where legendary head football coach Joe Paterno’s morals were in all this.

I laughed out loud. Since when do morals matter? In a nation that murders millions of innocent babies in the womb without any hesitation? In a nation that promotes homosexual behavior? In a nation that steals from the working class and gives to the lazy? In a nation that rewards teen moms for having children out of wedlock? In a nation that teaches their children that there is no God? What morals? And if we say there are morals, who is defining them? Is it ESPN analysts, the current president, Fox or CNN, a teacher, or a football coach?

Though America may no longer be the land of the free, I at least thought it was the land of the “whatever makes you happy.” And though gross and horrible to most people, Sandusky was just living out that motto for himself. Is this not true? So why now is this motto all of a sudden not true for Sandusky? And by the way, who are you to judge? Shouldn’t we all be saying that to everyone that criticizes him? (Again, to clarify any confusion to the reader, as a Christian, I adamantly believe his actions were wrong, disgusting, and against God’s law.) But for non-Christians, for the average American, who are you to judge Sandusky? Murder an innocent baby… who are you to judge? Heather has two mommies… who are you to judge? Sandusky likes young boys… who are you to judge?

And please tell me, in which situation, in which campus, in which school, business, or public arena, should we all of a sudden expect someone to exercise morals? (And again, who has defined what is moral?) Should we draw the line only when a big university football team is winning and in the limelight? Would the media be covering this same story at a Division III school that hasn’t won a game in a decade? But again, who should draw the line? Maybe Joe Paterno didn’t want to offend anyone and discriminate against a man who simply liked young boys.

Remember what our nation preaches and teaches. There is no God – right? With no God, we have no absolutes, and therefore we have no way to determine right and wrong. Sure, we can do it Hitler’s way. Whoever has the most money and the most power can determine what he or she believes to be right, wrong, and what is considered “moral”. How did that experiment work out? You know the answer—millions of innocent people were slaughtered. But if a nation pushes out God, the only thing left is humanism. With that, the end of the story is always the same—it always has a Hitler ending.

Within a few weeks, the media craze and outrage of Penn State will pass, and no one will care about it. But no matter who coaches Penn State, no matter how many games they win, no matter what happens to Sandusky, no matter what happens in college football, we cannot escape the question of who defines morality and by what standard should we live our life. The problem is bigger than Penn State, and the problem isn’t whether or not Joe Paterno should have done something more.

The problem is our schizophrenic, relativistic worldview. Until we understand as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation that morality isn’t for us to determine individually (as God has established what is moral and what isn’t), we can’t shake our fists at the Sanduskys in our culture. Rather, to be completely consistent, we can only sit back, turn on the football game, and let everyone live out our country’s motto— “whatever makes you happy.” And with this in mind, the only thing you have to worry about is whether your favorite team wins or loses.

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