Jerry Sandusky Child Abuse Case Calls for Christians to Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin?

Theologian Suggests Americans Blame the Sin and Embrace the Sinner

The Penn State University sex scandal involving assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has sparked nationwide outrage, causing the public to focus on those affiliated with Sandusky in a search for justice. Sympathy undoubtedly lies with the alleged victims, but what should the public's attitude be toward Sandusky, who has been charged with abusing several young boys for more than a decade?

The sexual molestation of children strikes a particular chord in Americans' hearts, and acquaintances of Sandusky, including Joe Paterno, Tim Curley and Jerry Schultz, are being blamed for not addressing the allegations appropriately when they became aware of the alleged abuse of young boys.

Professor of theology Rodney Howsare of First Things suggests that when studying the Sandusky trial, the public must employ the Christian ethos "love the sinner, hate the sin."

"This was premised on the notion that standards of morality are objective and unchanging (therefore, "hate the sin"), but that human beings are weak and often fail to live up to those standards (therefore, "love the sinner")," wrote Howsare.

Howsare goes on to contend that a growingly secular society, in an attempt to be more "liberal," refuses to acknowledge the source of sin and therefore places all of the blame on the individual. Ultimately, however, humans inherently make moral judgments.

"All of the moral revulsion that used to be brought down on sin is now being brought down on the sinner," Howsare writes.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach to legendary head coach Joe Paterno at Penn State, is charged with the sexual assault of eight boys over a period of 15 years, from 1994 to 2009.

He is suspected to have abused the boys during his participation in The Second Mile, a statewide non-profit organization that helps at-risk kids. Sandusky founded The Second Mile in 1977.

Top officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz stepped down from their posts at Penn State after the allegations came to light. Curley, the athletic director, and Schultz, vice president for finance and business, are charged with perjury and failing to alert police of Sandusky's alleged sexual misdoings.

In March 2002, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant at the university at the time, notified Paterno that he had witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a nude male victim in the locker room showers.

"As coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at the time, I referred the matter to university administrators," Paterno said.

Curley and Schultz took no action after hearing of the assault, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly. Paterno is not a suspect in the case.

Students are also expressing shock at the sex scandal surrounding football college Penn State.

"It's shocking and surprising that's it come up, and if it's true then the strongest penalty should be taken against anyone engaged in a cover-up. I think it really is a shame because it is one of the few things that tarnishes Penn State football," said freshman Grant Brown, 18, to The Associated Press.

Although many students express support for beloved Paterno, others remain critical, suggesting the head coach should have pursued the Sandusky rumors further.

Paterno referred to the scandal as "one of the great sorrows of my life" in a statement last week, and expressed regret for not doing more to stop Sandusky.

As the scandal unfolded, observers began wondering if Sandusky was a Christian.

As The Christian Post reported, Sandusky is a regular churchgoer, and even has a Bible verse posted on his home's garage door.

But does that make the former Penn State coach a Christian?

"You'd have to ask Mr. Sandusky that ... That's between Mr. Sandusky and God," said P. Stevens Lynn, senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in State College, Penn., in a separate interview with CP for the article examining Sandusky's faith.

"All of us are sinners. All of us fall short of what God expects, and my feeling is that the Christian community thinks that justice needs to be done," Lynn said about the matter. "The allegations are horrific, and, if proven true, then punishment needs to happen ... but I think, still, we can move toward forgiving as well."