Like everyone, I have been horrified by the events of the Stuebenville rape case. The callousness displayed in the physical, emotional and social violence done to the young girl is mind-boggling. The indifference and/or lack of courage displayed by so many others in stopping the violence disappoints me.
Where is the decency?
Where is the concern for another human being?
Where is the basic understanding of right and wrong?
As I find myself reading the stories and blogs about this case, I find myself trying to get some distance between me and them. It really is easy to do, I just need to judge them. Then it becomes very easy to hold it at an arms length and say, “Whose rotten, morally bankrupt kids are these?”
The most basic answer is, they are someone’s sons.
Suddenly keeping my distance from this is hard.
Because I have a son.
And that terrifies me.
It is easy to say, “Not my son.” But I am sure the parents of those two boys would have said that as well. It is easy to say, “I am going to raise my son to know right from wrong.” But I am sure the parents of those two boys would have said that as well.
I am sure they were not perfect parents. They probably failed to have certain conversations with their sons, got unproportionally mad for something their sons did, shamed them, and failed to meet their needs. Maybe they bought the hype about the greatness of their sons because of their athletic ability. It is so easy to blame the parents and say they should have done something different….
But I will fail in all those ways as well.
And so I pray for my son. I pray he understands Jesus. When you understand how fiercely Jesus loves people you see people differently. No longer are they defined by their external goodness or badness, their religiousness or lack thereof, their dress, their pedigree or any of the other labels and boxes we have for people. When you understand Jesus you see a human being. A person with emotions and a soul who is created in the image of God.
I pray God would give my son the heart to love others. Male or female. Rich or poor. When it is popular to love and when it is not. I pray he would love others as he loves Jesus.
I pray he would treat girls and women with respect and honor. Whether they are strangers, friends, girlfriends, or wife. Women are not the weaker sex to be protected. They are the other sex to be appreciated, valued, and championed.
I pray he would have strong, courageous humility.
I pray God would breathe courage into my son so he would stand up for what is right. That he would have the strength to be mocked, and feel the pain of being ostracized and criticized by others, but be strong enough to do what is right regardless of the pain he will experience.
I pray that he know his values and makes decisions based on those values rather than peer pressure, what others want from him, or his fears.
Even as I write these prayers for my son I realize that I am still distancing myself. These about him, for him. The hardest thing to do is look at what needs to change in me. Changing anything about the world in which events like Steubenville can happen, doesn’t begin with my son, nor is it just about praying (although that helps). James tells people that if they pray against hunger, but fail to actually feed people then it shows a lack of faith. The same could be said against praying for someone else to change culture without ever working to change it with what I can do.
If I want a world in which Steubenville does not happen, then the change has to happen in me.
So all those prayers I pray for my son, I also pray for me. Because I am not yet what I hope for my son.
Ultimately, who I pray he becomes, is who I pray I become.