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A Penn State tragedy lesson: Which is more important – character or education?

I blogged many months ago about the sins of omission and how they are not easily seen since they appear to be invisible at times. For example, NOT loving one’s wife may not be visible at all though it could be. The husband who simply drinks alcohol every night, goes out with his buddies, and plays golf on weekends while ignoring his wife may not recognize his failures to love his wife. She sees it but he has a harder time.

Another example is the husband who reads the newspaper and watches tv at night while ignoring his wife and failing to communicate with her. His sin is not reading the newspaper or watching tv each night but his sin is not loving his wife. Does the wife want a knowledgeable husband who knows a lot of facts? Or does she want an obedient husband who does what God requires in Ephesians 5 and loves his wife as much as he loves himself?

Likewise, this Penn State tragedy is so monumental because sin was covered up and powerful leaders failed to do the right thing (called a sin of omission); thus, many young boys were sexually abused.

So often we think of sin as only something someone does wrong – like committing adultery, stealing, and abusing children. But sin is also what we fail to do that is right – to love others, to forgive the repentant, and to speak the truth in love. Omitting sins are simply that which is NOT done that God requires and in the Penn State case, it has led to all of the penalties and shame to the university, but more importantly to the victims of heinous crimes that were covered up for years leading to more crimes and more pain. It’s sad.

On a related note, I often tell people that education is overrated and that character development is underrated. Why? While it is good to learn facts and gain knowledge in an educational setting, it is more important to do good and to act in a wise, God-honoring way. Character choices have more impact than fact-learning. It’s why many families choose to homeschool – in order to develop character in their children so that grow up to make right choices!

I know millionaires who have been very smart yet have made disobedient and sinful choices that have ruined their lives relationally-speaking.

In the case at Penn State, maybe now they will focus upon character just as much as they focused upon education and winning games. Maybe all of us fans will focus on character and be less prone to fire a quality coach with integrity even after a losing season or two. Maybe our culture’s values need to change from winning to doing the right thing. All fans can begin to change their thinking in this area by putting the right emphasis upon making right choices. Isn’t it apparent that our American culture has got to start making some changes in how we think about life?

Penn State’s focus from 1998 to now was winning games. Today, the NCAA spoke and stripped them of those wins by vacating them. Penn State’s emphasis was on the wrong thing (winning) and not the right thing (character) – so now they suffer, but the young men affected by sexual abuse which could have been averted will suffer differently and for a much longer time.

-Mark (praying for the young men and their families after the tragedy that occurred for years at PSU)