Many Americans are shaking their heads over the rape convictions of two teenage boys, members of a high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio. While those who respect God are shaking their heads in sorrow over the moral and cultural disintegration of a society, many of the rest are baffled by the arrogance of these boys and their friends — and how readily the treat others as objects and abuse them for their pleasure.
What is mystifying about injustice and oppression, except to a society that denies the darkness of the broken human heart? Tell children the entire universe is a cosmic accident and that right and wrong are personal decisions. Encourage them to “obey your appetite.” Deprive them of a two-parent home where adults honor God and make every effort to walk in his ways. Instead, fill their hearts with an insatiable desire for material things and teach them to dull the pain with alcohol and other drugs. Center adult lives around the exploits of youth and, when young men demonstrate athletic prowess, cater to their every whim — especially their hormone-inflamed sexuality.
And then we are shocked when they oppress girls sexually?
Dan Wetzel writes for Yahoo! Sports:
The five-day trial of [Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond] for the August 2012 rape of the West Virginia girl, who had come across the Ohio River for a night of partying, engulfed this old mill town in the eastern part of the state. Both boys are members of the high-profile and historically successful Big Red football team at Steubenville High School, which serves as a point of pride for the city dealing with economic hardship after the collapse of the steel industry.
Put in the spotlight was the local football team, which, critics said, allowed players to brazenly operate seemingly above the law for years. Social-media accounts, self-made videos, photos and classless text messages exposed an entire world that seemed like a Hollywood script of a high school team out of control.
It also exposed a teenage culture of weak ethics, rampant alcohol abuse and poor family structures that wound up dooming Mays and Richmond, both of whom had promising futures and no criminal past. …
Rape, experts say, is a crime of power and control more than sex. Underlying all of that is arrogance, and in Steubenville it was taken to the extreme.
Throughout this trial, the two defendants and a parade of friends who wound up mostly testifying against the defendants, expressed little understanding of rape – let alone common decency or respect for women. …
Arrogance from the defendants. Arrogance from the friends. Arrogance within the culture.
Arrogance based on the fact that this night, witnesses testified over and over, wasn’t strikingly different than any other night in the life of a Big Red football player.
The boys drank. They drove around. They went to each other’s houses until 2, 3, 4 in the morning. They exploited permissive parents who let the party continue. They, according to so many locals, knew there were bars that would serve them, liquor stores that would supply them and adults who would look the other way. They were football players being football players.
They slept wherever and whenever they crashed, preferably with some girl. Any girl.
The Steubenville police reportedly investigated the charges aggressively and swiftly. The state’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, called for a grand jury to continue the investigation. “This community desperately needs to have this behind them,” DeWine said, according to Wetzel’s article. “But this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned.”
“This community also desperately needs to know justice was done.”
The state can exact retribution for this crime, but doing justice is not possible when the people are broken and their hearts are filled with self-seeking injustice. Our society clamors for justice without understanding the root of injustice, clueless that injustice is all that is left when they have cut themselves off from the Just One.
The only way justice will be done in Steubenville — or any community — will be when people who have found freedom, healing, and restoration in Christ begin telling and living the truth among their neighbors.