On Tuesday the New York Daily News brought us a story about a female academic coach at Notre Dame who was terminated from her position for allegedly coercing several male students to have sex with her own daughter. The faculty member is accused of going so far as to provide condoms and lodging, on occasion even out of state, for the trysts. All of the names of the accused and the accusers in this story are being kept private for now, but it goes without saying that the story has gone viral. Our concern here is not the story itself, a discussion of the low morals of the academic coach, or the pervasiveness of abuses of authority to obtain sex in our culture. All of these subjects are easily accessible to you, dear reader, and I give you credit for being able to read the story and see those issues sitting on the surface.
What I want to highlight is two statements within the original story that caught my eye as being particularly difficult to understand but impactful for thinking Christians. Near the end of the story comes this sentence, “The student tried to end his relationship with the tutor’s daughter, but she then pressured him to convert to Catholicism and recommended he seek mental health counseling.” I’ve read that line over and over and the most coherent response I can muster is “Huh?” How do you springboard off of “I don’t want to be forced to have sex with your daughter anymore” to “you need to join the Catholic church”? This can only happen in an age where the authority of the church is not taken seriously, an era where the Church’s authority is severely eroded. I can’t for the life of me come up with any beneficial reason to attempt to have someone join a church in this situation unless it is simply a means to gain greater control over the victim. I’m not blaming the church in this instance, I’m sure they were not even aware of what was going on, but the story highlights this issue in my mind, the church is too often seen by non-believers and un-churched people as a means to control their behavior. I wonder if that isn’t the draw for some of us?
Next, the story tells us that the coach who has since been fired enlisted the help of a fellow faculty member who worked for the school in the in-artfully named “psychiatric support” department to medicate the student “to keep him passive, cooperative, and under control”. As if rape-by-proxy wasn’t enough this young man was also allegedly drugged under false pretenses too. And the student in question alleges that several other students, specifically players on the schools well known Basketball and Football teams, were caught up in this scheme. The lack of shame is unfathomable. The use of religion as a weapon is, sadly, not that uncommon.
As compassionate Christians we should pray for the restoration of what has been broken within these young men. We should also pray that a relationship with Jesus, the only person who can bring healing to these wounded hearts, would be found or restored as the case may be for all parties.
As thinking Christians we ought to know that we are all sinners, believer and non-believer alike. We are all capable of abuses of our faith and our fellow man. Furthermore, I would venture to guess that we are almost all guilty of abuses of our faith and our fellow man. It is important to know the reasons why (original sin, our sinful nature) and to know and be able explain the only remedy that exists (Faith in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).
James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
James 2:12-13 “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Matthew 20:25-28 “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”