What If Jerry Sandusky Was a Member of Your Church?

As everybody knows, Jerry Sandusky has been convicted on 45 counts relating to predatory sexual crimes against boys.

We know that he was connected to Penn State University.  We know that he was connected with the charitable organization, Second Mile.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
State College, Pennsylvania

Did you know that he was and is a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in State College, Pennsylvania?

I cannot imagine the pain and grief being experienced by that congregation.  Part of that body has been a cancerous element.  What if Sandusky was a member of your church?  How should the church respond?

This was the question raised by Sandusky’s pastor this Sunday as he began his sermon.

In light of the misery, sorrow and suffering we see, affecting every aspect of our life, within us, in the midst of us, and around us – what are we to do?  The world needs an answer, our community deserves an answer, and we need to answer together what is the most efficacious way to move forward from here. – Senior Pastor Ed Zeiders (CNN)

I am not writing this to critique the response of this church.  Much that they are doing is biblical and commendable.  Theirs is an unenviable position.

The question here is how would your church respond if facing similar circumstances?  How should the church respond?

First, this type of thing should drive a church to its knees.

Heartfelt prayers of confession should accompany pleas for God’s mercy.  Intercession should be made for the victims of one of the members and those harmed by the collateral fallout.  Prayers should even be offered for the offender.

These prayers should focus on bringing honor to God’s name and seek a balance between wanting God’s judgment and his mercy.

But is that enough?

No, the Bible teaches that a church in this situation should exercise discipline upon the sinning member.

Here are some reasons why.

1.  It honors Christ by disassociating this kind of behavior from the name of Christ.

2.  It protects and warns the church.

3.  It either drives the offending member to repentance or hands him over for judgment.

It does not allow for an obviously sinful and criminal man to stiffen his neck and refuse to demonstrate repentance while remaining a member of the body of Christ.

Just as civil society cannot really demonstrate justice to the victims without exercising judgment on the criminal, the church cannot demonstrate Christian love without exercising discipline upon the offending member.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Barry Marcellin

    Brother Gantz, you hit the nail on the head with this blog. We have all been born into sin, we all have been shaped in iniquity and that is our given; that is a part of our humanity. Jesus can be accepted by anyone of us, as long as one believes and is willing to live a Christian life, and inspite of the Church Body having a hard time digesting the sin, like the theaf on the cross. I never knew about Mr Sandusky before the media storm surrounding his victims, but after hearing their nightmare, I struggle to find forgiveness. I have prayed for all of them and their well being, but I need strength to forgive Sandusky, the sinful man. I need to do it soon, becaus

    • Barry, I’m curious about what was coming after the “because”. What is the relationship between forgiveness and repentance? So far, we see an unrepentant man in Sandusky.

  • Barry Marcellin

    sorry about my previous post not being complete, blame it on my phone’s touch pad and not my human error.

    we already know that a jury came to a conclusion that would render punishment on Sandusky. the media gave several angles to the alleged predation on the youths; and his church, like use, are the audience, and for us it is disgusting , and very hard to digest. the church is God’s house, and all men before conception, during our earthly life and after death are His. through faith we are given our place in heaven, if your part of a church body you should know this, and there needs to be healing and forgiveness…sounds like sanduscky’s church has that in check. sandusky is a sinner like samson, like david, like adam, and all are children of God. these children did great things that placed them in history books, and wicked things that make us wonder why.

    while in his prison cell, in that quiet place.sandusky still has an option to meet a saviour like Jesus that took all sins great and small and hung them. though I struggle to forgive, because I too know people who were sexually abused and have seen how those events affected them I am trying so please pray for me on that