“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”  Proverbs 31:23

“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?

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Glynn said…
Children were failed for years. This is a small glimmer of what happened in the Catholic Church for decades - same problem, same action, or lack of it. But the problem of this kind of behavior transcends the child abuse issue -- it's a problem of authority and leadership more generally -- poltiics and government, business, academia.

But those children -- it make me sick.
Jay Cookingham said…
Me also bro'...I know the road that one walks back from that kind of abuse. Thankfully there is a God who heals and restores. 
Joanne Norton said…
I've told you a bit of my background.  One of the things that amazes me today is that these abuses are placed in view once the explosion occurs.  Yet, when I was a child -- being abused physically and emotionally and molested by a variety of men a number of times -- it wasn't anything that was paid attention to.  I  grew up angry and violent and suicidal and buried in alcoholism.  IF the Lord hadn't broken into my life when I was a few months shy of  21, I believe I'd have been dead a long time ago.  Now, at 66, I'm moving along fairly healthily.  And I sure do understand all sides of this.  It just makes my heart break and my anger rise like a sky rocket when I hear these details.

Thanks, Friend, for posting about this.  Sorry if I've yammered to much, but, you really hit my core.
Jay Cookingham said…
I am delighted that the Father has restored you my sister...the Kingdom is richer because of what He has done in and through you!
Joanne Norton said…
Thank you.  "Restored" has been a good thing.  And, if I can serve Him, my dear Father, that's what counts most.
Jay Cookingham said…
Amen to that...for all of us!
S. Etole said…
Pondering your questions and your thoughts.
Jay Cookingham said…
Me as well much to pray about and guard against.
jasonS said…
What a great way to remind us of our position. Gatekeeper says it all and evokes the right imagery. What and who is coming in and out of the gates? Are we watching closely? Are we fooled by seemingly harmless things? Father, give us wisdom and discernment to see according to grace in your light and not fear and confusion.

Thanks Jay.
Jay Cookingham said…
Amen Jason...thanks for adding your insight!

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