There is no doubt that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, the real question is why?
Why is it that we, here and now, would send a man to prison for
molesting boys? Why is the public reaction one of both deep disgust and
quite visceral anger? Just canvass a few opinions about what people
would like to be done to punish Sandusky if they were the judge.
But why? What is the cause of this deep disgust? This seething anger?
There is only one cause: Christianity. We still have minds,
consciences, and hearts, and hence a legal system, historically formed
by Christian moral principles. There is no other reason. Allow me to
explain, beginning first with the “that” of his guilt.
Jerry Sandusky has been declared guilty of 45 of 48 counts of child
sexual molestation. The coaching hero of Penn State used his status to
draw in young boys through his Second Mile charity, “a statewide,
nonprofit organization for children who need additional support and who
would benefit from positive human contact” (so the website maintains).
The “positive human contact” Sandusky had in mind occurred in locker
rooms, motel rooms, his basement, and who knows where else. He molested
(at least) one of his adopted sons.
This is 2012. Turn the historical clock back 2000 years, and find
yourself in the pagan Roman Empire before Christianity arose, i.e.,
before the Christianization of the West. In Rome, as in ancient Greece,
homosexuality was completely acceptable. To be more exact, homosexual
activity was frowned on (but not very diligently) when it occurred
between two free-born men, but it was cheerfully affirmed between a
master and his slave, and even more, a man and a boy between the ripe
ages of about 12 to 17just the target age of Sandusky. The man
generally presented himself as a kindly benefactor to the boy, taking
him under his wing, so to speak, and (in return for sexual favors)
helping him up the social ladder. Just like Sandusky.
If Sandusky would have lived 2000 years ago, he would not have been
found guilty of anything. He would not even have been noticed. His
actions would have been entirely unremarkable. There would have been no
disgust, no anger. The verdict would have been innocent, and in fact,
the notion that he was guilty of anything would have been
There is one and only one reason, 2000 years later, that Sandusky is
guilty now. Unlike everyone else around them, Judaism rejected
homosexuality, including man-boy sex. Christianity came from Judaism,
and carried that moral rejection forth amidst the pagan Roman Empire,
the Greek East, and everywhere else its missionaries roamed in search of
converts. Today, there are about 13.5 million Jews, but over 2 billion
Christians. Christians are demographically responsible for carrying
forth the Judeo-Christian moral view, and with it, the moral disgust and
angerand guilty verdictat what Sandusky did.
That is the why of Sandusky’s guilt. Our consciences, our
minds, our hearts, our legal system in America have been formed by
Christian moral teaching about sexuality. Subtract Christianity from
history, and we would be back in Rome. In pagan Rome, Sandusky would be
To make the point even more pointed, no other attempted modern
substitute for Christianity could find Sandusky guilty without
surreptitiously borrowing from Christianity.
Thomas Hobbes’s invention of modern natural rights, set forth in the mid-17th century, declared that by nature there was no right and wrong, just or unjust; all moral and hence legal rules were artificial.
Utilitarianism declares that morality must be reduced to what
provides the greatest pleasure for the greatest numbernot exactly a
strong defense against pedophilia.
Darwinian evolutionary ethics doesn’t distinguish between right and
wrong; notions of right and wrong are simply effects of ingrained
responses that are somehow calibrated to the survival of a particular
human population. As long as that population continues to breed
successfully, particular sexual actions are not “condemned” by natural
Democracy itself can’t rescue us. The notion that the majority
determines the moral outlines of the legal system doesn’t help much,
given that the majority of Greeks and Romans affirmed Sandusky-like
behavior, and since we ourselves are in a period of secularization with
the Christian moral hold on society becoming ever-weaker, it is unclear
how long our majority will continue to feel either anger or disgust.
Many things used to fill us with moral disguste.g., abortionwhich we
now regard with a live-and-let-live attitude, or even affirm as a right.
Freud thought that the desire for incest was natural, so there’s
little help there either. Contemporary psychologists following Freud,
don’t talk about something being wrong, but about the ill-effects of
repressed desires. Sandusky’s defense was toying with the possibility of
getting him declared not guilty through claiming he had a mental
disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Even the stern philosopher Kant would be of no service. He tried to
root morality in the so-called categorical imperative: “Act only
according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it
should become a universal law." Here’s the problem: if I’m an ancient
Greek or Roman, I want everyone to affirm pedophilia. I want it to be universally accepted. A modern pedophiliac wants the same thingjust ask the North American Man-Boy Love Association.
So we’re back toor backed intothe conclusion that the only reason
Sandusky is guilty, the reason we feel anger and disgust, is the
historical influence of Christianity in forming our consciences, our
minds, our passions, our laws. Christianity is “guilty,” we might say,
of finding Sandusky guilty.
But again, here’s the problem. Our society is being successively and
successfully de-Christianized. The moral formation is wearing off
rapidly. Now that we’ve answered the why of Sandusky’s guilt, we’ve got one more question to ask: How long will we continue to feel guilty?
Here’s the solution. We must recognize that Christianity was and is right. There is something
fundamentally, morally disgusting about a man who would sexually molest
boys, whether anyone happens to feel moral outrage or not. It is not
just disgusting, but evil, wherever and whenever it occurs. It was evil
in Greece, whatever the Greeks felt about it. It was evil in Rome,
whatever the Romans believed. It was evil when Catholic priests did it,
who had every reason to know it was evil.
And it was evil for Sandusky. Christianity is right. Sandusky is guilty.