My Sin and Societal Sin

There have been a number of striking events the past few weeks, but none have affected me more than the mass murders in Orlando and the so-called “Stanford rape” case in Palo Alto. Of course, two horrors cannot be equated with each other but should stand on their own. These certainly do. I wish could make some wise and timeless observations about the two horrors, but have come across two related stories that point me in a different path.

In one, the Lieutenant Governor of Utah gave a speech to a vigil held in Salt Lake City the night of the Orlando massacre. You can find one report about it here.  He spoke simply and honestly about his past discrimination against gays . . . and he apologized for it. He also spoke about how he came to soften his views, and about the societal need to reject hate and turn to love.

At one time, I would have said his views on turning to love were trite and simplistic. There are not. They are the essence of Christian belief and should be the essence of our life ethic. Too many Christians shame Christ because of their continued bigotry behind the fig leaf of biblical sanction. I have been guilty of that, too, and apologize to all LGBTQs for my past disrespect and discrimination against them. May God also forgive me. Thank you, Lt. Governor for your honesty and for opening my eyes.

You can find the second story  here. It is a story of brutality, courage and accountability. It also contains an apology for past sin. In 1998, a woman named Brenda Tracy was brutally raped and sodomized by four football players, including two from Oregon State. Tracy’s fear and shame led her to drop charges two weeks after she filed them. The then OSU coach, Mike Reilly, suspended his two players for one game explaining, “These are really good guys who made a bad choice.” His words diminished her and trivialized her experience similar to what we saw happen more recently to the young lady in the Stanford case.

Fast forward sixteen years, though. Two years ago, the former OSU head coach, Mike Reilly, became aware of Ms. Tracy’s experience and also became head coach at the University of Nebraska. He invited Ms. Tracy to address his team about the particulars of the incident and its impact on her. When she came to Lincoln to do that, Ms. Tracy and Coach Reilly met and embraced. Reilly also apologized to her. He also stood with his football team as she told the story from her point of view, including the impact that Reilly’s prior nonchalance had on her.

Most males in America, including me, also owe apology to women for our past treatment of them—the objectification, teasing, lust, minimization, etc. All of those things that so many males do contribute to this greater issue of societal failure to recognize the horrors of sexual assault and rape. As with any degree of LGBTQ discrimination, we need to repent and be part of turning our society in a different direction.

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