“A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate.” Emile M. Cioran
My perspective on the recent Penn State revelations of abuse and moral failure is twofold. Being a father of seven and the history of abuse I suffered gives me a unique dual look into what is going on that Pennsylvanian campus and in the lives of the victims.
A national figure, a legend in college football lost his job and perhaps his place in college lore. Worse than losing his hold on college football immortality was the fact that people under his authority hurt innocent children and other authority figures tried to cover up those horrible actions…seeking to protect not the victims, but an image…a brand.
Joe Paterno (and others at the university) failed those children because he wasn’t doing his job as an elder at the gate. His power, his influence over the “city” of Penn State was legendary in its own right; yet, somewhere a decision was made in favor of a coach abusing children in his care…that is not administrating justice at the gate. And there lies the danger for all of us.
In the Old Testament, elders met at the city gates to decide civic matters and make sure justice (right relationship between people) was upheld in the community. During my reflection time this week I read the following:
“In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, (6) and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” Isaiah 28: 5-6
We all have a “city” (our family) to protect, a “Happy Valley” (our community) to defend. Our personal comfort, our position and our preferences are secondary to that role of gatekeeper. We have been given huge responsibility, tremendous influence and according to the passage in Isaiah…a spirit of justice to judge fairy and wisely. We have also been given strength to turn back the battle at the gate. We can’t let anything interfere with that duty that God has given us.
This time of meditation led me to some deep questioning…
What, who am I responsible to guard?
Who do I let in my “gates”?
What do I hear, ingest, see and experience that potentially causes harm to my “city”?
These are important questions to ask and allow the Holy Spirit to change our hearts in order to be wiser elders at the gate. This is why a company of men is God’s ideal for leadership in a community and to stand together in the defense of our families.
What battle are you turning back at your gate? How I can pray with you?