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FIRST-PERSON: Penn State & a lesson on human depravity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- In the sexual abuse scandal still unfolding at Penn State University, we are once again confronted with the stark, uncomfortable reality of the deep, dark depravity of human nature. But it remains to be seen whether or not society-at-large will accept what is self-evident or continue to debate deluded humanistic theories concerning mankind's propensity for evil.

The story emerging out of State College, Pa., is one of a once-respected authority figure, Jerry Sandusky, allegedly sexually abusing children. Sadly, this is not a new tale. Neither is the seemingly attempted cover-up of the situation by superiors. The situation at Penn State is just another verse of a sordid song that has been heard to echo throughout the halls of churches -- Catholic and Protestant, homes, schools, youth centers day-care facilities.

It is past time for society to stare reality in the face and to accept that human nature is intrinsically, inherently depraved. As the Bible teaches, each of us comes into the world possessing the propensity of a rebel that craves only one thing: the satisfaction of self-centered, selfish desire.

America has been influenced by a liberal view of human nature that insists mankind is basically good. An individual only resorts to evil -- in whatever form -- due to social conditioning of some kind. The liberal position maintains that if a person is given a loving home, good education and ample opportunities, then he or she will become a responsible citizen.

More times than not, when a situation like the sex-abuse scandal at Penn State is uncovered, the liberal position seeks to blame everyone or everything but the perpetrator of the crime. It is society or the institutions that are the problem, many liberals maintain, not the individual.


In classic fashion Cindy Abel, writing on the Huffington Post blog, blamed the Penn State situation on America's "homophobia." She wrote, "The allegations aren't that he was just abusing kids; the allegations are that he was abusing boys."

Abel later wrote, " McQueary, Paterno and all the others were probably speechless.... ot only would a school legend be known as a child rapist, but he would likely be perceived as gay. After all, in the eyes of a homophobic culture, a gay pedophile is much worse than a straight one.

"This tradition of tackling shame with silence impacted the victims, as well, who also slowed down and skewed their reporting," Abel wrote. "No doubt they wondered if a man being attracted to them meant they were gay -- something they knew was incompatible with Penn State football. So they, too, kept quiet."

Abel continued her rant against America's homophobia, "Would it have been different if the child being raped was a girl? Yes. Because there would have been only one shame factor: having a pedophile on the payroll."

Summarizing her point, Abel wrote, "Fear of the gay factor, in a very twisted way, probably protected Jerry Sandusky. It silenced his witnesses, betrayed his victims, and prevented justice from being served."

There are likely those who maintain that if men were free to pursue same-sex attraction without a homophobic society stereotyping them, they would not feel the need to hide their true selves. Rather than suppress their homosexuality and foist it secretly on powerless young boys, they could pursue it with abandon.


There is only one thing wrong Abel's reasoning and the liberal position; it flies in the face of self-evident experience.

Consider a 2-year-old child -- any 2-year-old. Pick one at random. Without fail if you observe the toddler for a few hours you will discover he or she to be completely, utterly and totally self-centered and selfish.

A child does not have to be taught to be bad. He or she must be instructed, actually forced in most cases, to be good. Humans are born with the propensity for evil present in their DNA. As we mature, the pursuit of self-centered, selfish satisfaction manifests itself in a variety of ways.

The Bible details three broad categories by which depravity seeks expression. It is via the lust of the eyes (possessions), the lust of the flesh (pleasure) and the boastful pride of life (ego).

A person may seek to satiate his or her self-centered, selfish cravings with unbridled materialism or with some form of obsessive pursuit of pleasure. He or she may even seek to gratify the ego by seeking popularity, position, prestige or power. Whatever the case, the well-spring of depravity is found deep in the human heart.

If the allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State are proved to be true, it will be individuals who are to blame, not society.

The perpetrator of sexual abuse alone is responsible for forcing his perverted pursuit of pleasure onto his powerless victims. If superiors did seek to sweep the situation under the proverbial rug, they alone are responsible for seeking to protect the prestige of the university or their own positions of power.


What should we learn from the situation unfolding at Penn State?

First, there must be the acknowledgement that no person or place is immune from the manifestation of depravity. It can happen, and has happened, in every venue in society.

Second, accountability must be enforced at every level. Checks, balances and preventive measures must be adopted and any attempts to skirt them must be met with zero tolerance.

Third, if sexual abuse -- or any other depraved behavior -- is suspected or discovered it must be dealt with swiftly and with the full force of the law. If a child or adult has been violated sexually, a crime has been committed. It must be reported -- no exceptions.

And finally, if anyone at any level of an organization is found to violate either of the steps above, it must be treated with zero tolerance. Failure to follow preventative measures or to report sexual abuse of any kind should be grounds for dismissal.

In light of the sexual scandal unfolding at Penn State University, society once again has a choice. Accept the self-evident reality of human depravity or continue to debate deluded humanistic theories concerning mankind's propensity for evil. The former is the responsible choice; the latter is nothing more than denial and further evidence of the self-centered nature of human depravity.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.


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