Grace In the Darkness

In Spirituality by Caris Adel4 Comments

sandusky grace

Photo Credit: AP

Grace and justice feel like opposites. 

Justice punishes the evildoer, and grace lets them get away with it, under the guise of love.  Or so it seems.  So it’s understandable in a case like Jerry Sandusky’s (because he’s a case now, not a person), that people would all lean hard towards justice.

It’s hard to err on the side of grace when it means you might be giving a pass to child abuse.

But if God is both justice and grace, then so are we.


A guilty verdict and a jail sentence is justice.

But grace?

Grace is looking for, and seeing, a man.

Grace is looking at his photo and saying he has two eyes, a nose, a mouth.  Hands and feet, lungs that breathe and a heart that beats.

Out of the dust I formed you,

in your mother’s womb I knew you,

your name is engraved on my palms,

and I love you.


Grace recognizes humanity.  It loves our neighbor, because it could be us.  Grace sees brokenness, not a monster. 

What they’ve done is not who they are.


The best defense is a good offense.

We need to create a society where sports are not more important than people.  Those in authority don’t get a pass, just because they happen to be in charge.

We need to be a culture that recognizes we are all humans.

We are all image-bearers. 

We are not greater than each other, based on our positions at work, whether we are male or female, or the color of our skin.


Testifying should not be brave and courageous.

Yes, everyone who testified, including his son, was brave.  But they shouldn’t have been.  It shouldn’t be considered brave to stand up to abuse, or courageous to call out rape.  It shouldn’t be considered an extraordinary act to challenge authority and the abuse of power.

I know that’s the world we live in.  But it shouldn’t be.

It should be normal for people to be discerning and aware.

It should be normal that we don’t give people in authority extra privilege just because of their position.

It should be normal to understand that people are people, and we all have the same capacity for good and evil.

When we call him a monster or say that we want him hanged – what does that say about us?  Do we really have limits on who we think is valuable, redeemable?

I knew someone once whose dad was the mayor.  Whenever he and his friends were screwing around town and got caught by the cops, they never got n trouble, because of his dad.

We see this all the time.  Celebrities get off drug charges, sports players get a slap on the wrist for rape.  And no one really complains.  Oh, sure, there are a few protesting voices here and there, but no societal-wide cry.


I don’t know why that is.

Why is fighting dogs more serious than rape?

Why is accidentally shooting yourself more serious than rape?

Why is a football coach more important than rape?

I don’t know.

Why do we willingly place ourselves in a caste system, one that is proven to be unfair?

Why do we allow a system to flourish that is based on denying rights to some, justice to the victim?


Real grace can’t be meted out by a jury

Grace comes through people, not laws.

It comes to people, in spite of sentences.

Contrary to our human reactions, grace should always shine, even in the darkness of suicide watches.

Isaiah is a book that has (inaccurately, I think) the reputation of divine judgment.  But taken as a book, and not as isolated verses or chapters, it gives a beautiful vision of the world that could be, out of the world that is.

“Say to the captives, ‘Come out’

and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!”


Do we believe that? 

If we want slaves to be free, do we only want physical slaves freed?

Or do we want all, ALL people freed from every broken system, feeling, habit that entangles them?


Do we want soul freedom for Jerry Sandusky?  Is he worth it?  

Grace says yes.


What do you think?  Should we give grace to evildoers?  Have you ever found yourself in a spot where you needed grace and all you were handed was judgment? 


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  • Andrew Carmichael

    My initial reaction is “No way.” Not given the crimes he was found guilty of. But the scandal of grace is that it extends to everyone, without regard to what they have done. However, I don’t think that receiving grace requires that one not face consequences for one’s actions, at least in this world. Grace might say that Sandusky or anyone else can stand faultless before the throne of God, but it doesn’t say that he shouldn’t spend the rest of his earthly days in prison as a consequence for his actions. 

    • Caris Adel

      Oh I agree. Jailtime forever….and thankfully we don’t live out of our first responses!!!

  • Robert

    I agree with you Caris in that grace and justice should be a both/and not an either/or. I have a friend who insists that nowhere in the Bible does it show God giving grace and forgiveness to anyone unless they repent first. I responded  with Jesus telling Peter to forgive his brother endlessly anytime he sins against him, but he  said repentance was implied.  Don’r we all  commit  certain sins  over and over, so that does mean repentance is  ongoing?? Are there times we  sin either overtly or covertly and don;t repent??   I think  your pointing out boundaries is so true as well  Caris.

    • Caris Adel

       augh, if I never hear the word Repent again, it will be too soon……except that it is needed every once in awhile, LOL.  But I grew up with that mentality too….my mom just hammered that in.  They haven’t repented, so I don’t have to do anything.  Ugh.  Looking back, that’s such an odd belief to have.  :/