Lusting to Death or Death to Lusting

The horrifying allegations and fallout continue to surface in the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal, now in its third week. The sordid details of the alleged crimes are so reprehensible that I can hardly bear to read the news reports. One cannot fathom the darkness of a heart that would do such vile things to children. Almost as disturbing to our souls is the apparent failure of other men to protect the victims and come forward.

The common denominator at the very core of the story is the sin of lust. Lust is defined as a strong or excessive desire, a yearning or craving. One party, the former assistant coach, is accused of lusting for and carrying out illicit sex with children while some of the key leadership at Penn State apparently lusted to preserve the money and prestige of its vaunted football program. What else could explain their decade of silence on the matter?

It now seems this lust will dearly cost not only the accused, his family, the victims and their families, but also those guilty of looking the other way.

The Wake of Devastation

The financial impact of this scandal at Penn State will be enormous.

  • Joe Paterno, revered head football coach of the famed Nittany Lions and highest paid employee at Penn State University, reportedly earning $1 million annually: Fired. Reputation badly tarnished. Lucrative Paterno brand in leadership books, tapes and other materials, gone.
  • Graham Spanier, University President, earning a reported $800,000 annually: Fired.
  • Tim Curley, Athletic Director, estimated annual salary near $500,000: Fired. Charged with perjury.
  • Gary Schultz, acting Senior VP for Finance and Business, who previously had retired with a one-time pension payment of $422,000 and $331,000 of annual income: Fired. Charged with perjury.
  • Penn State endowment of over $1.8 billion, annual revenue near $200 million: Seriously threatened.

It’s estimated that the university will incur legal costs and settlements to victims reaching as high as $100 million.

Fundraising will suffer. The backlash of shocked and disillusioned alumni and fans will hurt Penn State in two ways:

1. The Nittany Lion Club, the booster organization for university athletics, raised $27 million in 2009and is critical to the success of the entire athletic program.

The university’s current $2 billion capital fundraising, for which Coach Paterno served as honorary chairman, will also be at risk. JoePa, as he is affectionately known, was a key fundraiser in earlier campaigns, but it seems certain he will never perform that function again at Penn State. For every 1% drop in contributions to the capital campaign, the university loses $20 million.

2. In addition, the reputation of Penn State has been seriously damaged, which likely will hurt the school’s ability to recruit top students, at least in the near future.

In all, the financial hit to Penn State could top $200 million2.

This, of course, does not take into account the spiritual, emotional and psychological toll on all involved.

What lessons can Christians take from this tragedy?

Put Lust to Death

The allegations against the former coach are truly heinous. Still, I can’t get past the revelation that others, men seen as leaders, failed to contact authorities and, as a result, potentially endangered even more innocent boys. Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

We will wonder for years how these men could stand by silently, or worse, cover up these alleged crimes. The answer, however, is probably quite simple—fear that the Penn State football program and the enormous funds it produces for the university would be threatened if the scandal became public.

If the reports turn out to be true, I believe we will learn that the men in leadership were paralyzed from taking action by their own lust for money, power and prestige. They placed greater value on protecting their personal and corporate assets than on protecting innocent victims.

This unrighteous and flawed decision-making may seem inconceivable to us; but we should not be so quick to judge. A similar trade-off happens whenever we compromise our integrity for personal gain. The Bible says many turn their back on God due to a lust for the things of this world. The Penn State debacle stands out only for the shock of the nature of the sin and the vast amount of personal and financial currency lost—it is hardly unique.

Christians need reminding to guard against lust of the flesh. The bystanders at Penn State had nine years to report the alleged sins of a former coach but did nothing. By looking the other way, they now find themselves covered in shame, for the Bible promises, “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 niv).

Paul gave a clear solution to the problems caused by the corruption of our heart. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5-6 niv).

We should pray for healing for the victims. We should also pray that the Spirit would guard our hearts and put to the death the lusts that dwell within each of us. Far better to bring death to the personal lusts of the flesh than allow them to bring death to so many others.

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Chuck Bentley



About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
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23 Responses to Lusting to Death or Death to Lusting

  1. SJ says:


  2. Kim says:

    Great blog post! Reminds me of James 1:14-15 –> But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Sober warnings for us all…

  3. Jo Turner says:

    Wow! Great is so true. Anytime we go against God’s Word, there are consequences. The serpent (devil) deceived Eve and told her that she wouldn’t really die when she ate of the fruit..but it was not true. The devil is a liar. What God says is true.

  4. Larry Gillen says:

    Well said!

  5. rhonaamaysing says:

    NO one would’ve suffered except Sandusky, and of course, his victims and their families had at any level or anytime someone would’ve said something. Penn State would’ve cemented in everyone’s mind that it was the most safe, moral, and upstanding school to send your children, attend, or associate with. Book sales, speaking engagements, etc…SKYRocketed. If anyone had done the right thing at the start! Sad.
    Thanks Chuck, on point with this.
    I die to my flesh daily!

  6. Pettit Bruce says:

    Thanks, Chuck. Well put. It’s in all of us, scripture is very clear about this. No one is better than another here. It’s Jesus that makes the difference as we walk with, and struggle with, and suffer with, and trust Him and His word. And, become one with Him and it becomes “no longer I” that we escape… only one can deliver us from this body of death! We should be so thankful.

  7. RB says:

    Mr. Bently,

    You stated “Paul gave a clear solution to the problems caused by the corruption of our heart.” And then quoted Colossians. But the statement you quoted just said to put those things “to death”. Which really isn’t a solution. That’s like saying the solution to putting to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature (example: lust) is to put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.

    You defined lust as “a strong or excessive desire, a yearning or craving”. Whether the lust in sex, money, drugs, booze, power, fame etc. that excessive desire doesn’t just go away becuase you will it to. If I’m lusting over a piece of chocolate for example, the only way that lust is going to be satiated is if I have a piece of chocolate and it would only be a temporary satisfaction.

    So my question to you is this: What is the solution? If you have lust and giving into it means the wrath of God is coming what is the action to take to “fix it”?

    • Monica Tarr says:

      Mr. Bently, two verses that God has given us that is your answer to “fix it”…..2Cor 10:5
      Putting an end to reasonings, and every high thing which is lifted up against the knowledge of God, and causing every thought to come under the authority of Christ; God is His Word is already giving us a way to “Fix It” …Lust begins in the mind and these men “reasoned that they could fulfill their lusts by their own selfish “reasonings” had they brought these things into submission to Christ they possibly would not have done this had they “obeyed”. Also 1 Cor 10:13 You have been put to no test but such as is common to man: and God is true, who will not let any test come on you which you are not able to undergo; but he will make with the test a way out of it, so that you may be able to go through it. This Lust which all of humanity suffers in all various forms is not from God but He will be faithful to help you “through” it if one will but “obey” God and His Word. So my admonition to you is this it was those mens “free will” to choose how they were going to behave. They chose fulfull their own lusts whether sexual or greed they are all guilty of not believing that “as you sow you will reap” also God Word…and to really compare lust of a “piece of chocolate” to lusting “to rape and lie to cover your greed and decadence hidden” is really no comparison. The two are vastly different. I truly believe that all humanity will someday realize that we should have NEVER questioned Gods Authority over HIS creation.

    • terry woodward says:

      The answer is to tell yourself no.

    • I believe your question was answered a long time ago. “Have this mind within you which was also in Christ Jesus.” One part of the gospel only can still leave you with a blank sheet of paper. Being a part or “participant” in the grace of God delivered on the cross to us by God himself, is overwhelming evidence that being free from the power is sin is to be a slave of the gospel message of gratitued for grace; a sure way to change our motives and intentions as to how we live out each day. As an 80 year old business man with a theological education from two seminaries, I will attest to the fact that temptation can cause significant deviation from a daily life “in Christ.” However, I am overcome daily with gratitude and thanksgiving that God never has abandoned me when I have abandoned him. Am I sin free? No!. But with God’s help I have become “sin less”. Being greatful for God’s love and forgiveness each time I fail, I am experiencing less times of failure. Don’t abandon your hope God has given each of us!

  8. This is a mirror for us to see how the love of money and its power can corrupt our consciences.

  9. S. Myers says:

    Although I am disgusted at the actions of one man and the harm he has caused I am also sick of the media and now you jumping to conclusions about what was in the heart of Joe Paterno. I did not realize you spoke to him? Or our you just clairvoyant? Judging actions is one thing. Judging what someone was thinking is another. I pray the truth will come out, but we do not know it yet. Shame on you. I will be taking my support and unsuscribing due to your jumping on the media bandwagon without facts.

    • Minnesota Dave says:

      S. Myers: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is way too much good/truth that is revealed herein to throw out the baby over one comment you don’t agree with.

  10. Minnesota Dave says:

    Not only is this a very sad commentary on the state of man – the sinful nature of man, but it is also an indictment against big college sports. It seems that winning at this level of colleges has become everything . . . EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!! Every now and again another story slips out. I’m sure there continues to be much more out there that “if we only knew . . . “

  11. Sherri Holcombe says:

    What a very informative article..I had no idea those involved made so much money at Penn State, but that explains how the love of money is the root of all evil..Situations like this seem hard to understand, especially the covering up part. Now that it has been exposed for everyone to see,hopefully the victims can get some sort of peace in knowing they individually weren’t the only ones and see justice done. The fact that all the men involved have lost their very lucrative salaries is evident of them reaping what they have sown. My prayers go out to the victims for God to heal them emotionally and spiritually and also for the perpertrators whether they were partcipants or looked the other way that God may touch their hearts and shine His light in the dark recesses of their hearts..God never lets us down and He won’t allow the enemy to obtain praise or victory in this situation…God is good!!!

  12. L Erickson says:

    Thank you, Chuck, for your posts. I sure appreciate them. This post reminded me that money does intersect with every arena of life.

    Knowing people that have suffered the tragedy of sexual abuse, what’s happened at Penn State breaks my heart. Unfortunately, without God’s grace and healing, the pain and fall-out won’t end at the victims themselves or even their immediate families.

  13. Texas V. says:

    Chuck is correct. LUST and GREED are problems that have plagued this country from the beginning. People have been MURDERED and ABUSED by the USA Government for their LUST for power and wealth. We can begin with the breaking of covenants with the North American Indians, the Atlantic/African Slave Trade, the Islands of Hawaii and World Policing for economic footholds. I could name many more. Of course, I should not expect moral behavior from a secular government. Contrary to popular evangelical belief I believe this is not Christian led nation/country but simply as secular as the rest. Conquering and dividing for land, wealth and power. Think about if the USA wasn’t like that they would still be thirteen colonies/states! We just happen to have citizens of Christian belief.

  14. Berk Wilson says:

    Chuck, I thought you laid it out very clearly. I have some additional thoughts to consider as to turning away and taking so long to stand up. I work on a college campus and the culture of the university is to look the other way. If anyone says that something is morally wrong you would be amazed at how quickly you are ridiculed, especially when it comes to homosexual behavior, which seems to be the university’s pet. For years that has been the culture and the lines have been so blurred. We are allowing our nations universities to promote this culture upon our youth and we all seem to turn away. It is deplorable what was done to those boys, but I would not be surprised if the coach gets off because we no longer have a basis of what is right and wrong other than “it harms the children” and even that is debatable by some. In a few years, don’t be surprised if someone does “research” and says this type of behavior is, “ok”. Some university will sponsor research and begin the process of saying ” a minority of people are born with these desires and who are we to say it is wrong, this minority needs to be understood and protected”.
    One more thing to consider, to see such behavior and not take action is painful to think about, but how many of us have known of someone considering an abortion and we, because of our “training and education” think, “its a mother’s right to choose, who am I to stop it”. We need to take back the culture, beginning at our universities, and remind everyone that all is accepted, unless the God of the Bible exists. If He exists, He has moral standards that are not to be debated but embraced,enjoyed and explained to all.

  15. Jo T. says:

    In response to “fix” lust..”Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. I f any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” ( 1 Jn.2:15,16 ). “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:13-17. That is the progression of sin..starts with lust..which starts in the heart (and eyes), and leads to sin which eventually leads to spiritual (and sometimes physical) death. Jesus also said ..if your right eye causes you to sin..pluck it out and cast it from you..for it’s better to enter into life with one eye, rather than having 2 eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matt. 18:9). Evidently Jesus (and God) were VERY serious about sin..but that’s because they love us and don’t want us to hurt ourselves or others.
    So, I’d say, be in the Word daily, guard your thoughts and your heart, pray,pray,pray!
    When talking about someone who is not a Christian..they don’t have the resources of God (or don’t use them) to help them combat sin.

  16. AZT says:

    Um… shouldn’t we wait until they are actually proven to be guilty before we judge and sentence them? The point of the article (lust is destructive) is a point well-taken, but to conclude that all of these men are evil and guilty before one word of testimony has been given in open court seems a bit harsh. If you had said, “Look at what’s happening in American colleges, and public schools around the nation, as well as large religious denominations in the area of lust…” I would have been much more willing to hear the rest of the article. As it is, it just seems like an opportunity to once again point out the sins of others. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

  17. Chuck, Keep speaking the truth. Keep striving to please God and not man. In response to AZT, I believe similar words to those you wrote here were spoken to Jesus when he addressed unrighteousness… (Matthew 13:55) “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?” The crowd also said, He is from Nazareth? Just who does he think he is anyway? How can he go around telling US what to do? It is always easiest to slay the messenger when one doesn’t like the message. The events at Penn State are another evidence of our erosion from within. We all need to fear God, myself included.

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