If You Really Care For The Innocent

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

Summer Jaeger:

One of the greatest books of our time is about a man accused of a crime of which he was not guilty, and how people come out and support “their side” when the narrative befits them. Atticus Finch defended a man accused of rape. The man was not guilty of rape but the mob, with their many prejudices, didn’t care. It made Atticus a hero. It made the false accuser slime.

Yet everywhere I turn now, the message we are hearing is one of, “I believe you, no matter what.”

The point of due process (which is a biblical concept), the point of witnesses, the necessity of reporting crime when it happens, is to *protect the innocent*. Because God cares for justice, we must act justly. We do not get to believe whoever we want to believe because we know that frequently, he who states their case first seems right, UNTIL someone comes to examine him (Prov 18:17).

If you love victims, if you truly care for the innocent, obey the Creator of justice Himself and stop with the nonsense. You’re no better than the mobs of Maycomb who wished to have Tom Robinson’s life. False accusations create victims of the accused. False accusations harm real victims. THAT is why we must protect the innocent the way the God who cares for us demands—by seeking justice, and crying out for it when we are wronged, like Scripture prescribes. God doesn’t take sexual sin lightly. Championing decades of silence followed by public defamation that can’t be proven isn’t teaching our kids how to protect themselves or pursue true justice if something awful happens to them.

I understand the world isn’t perfect, and that’s why God told us how to deal with sexual assault in the first place. And it looks nothing like what’s happening now. Losing your job was never God’s prescription for sexually deviant behavior….it was taken more seriously than that.

Of course I want people talking about this. But the world has no solution to sexual deviance because they are full-on embracing and celebrating deviance at every turn, parading perversion in the streets and redefining marriage and murdering children by the millions so that they can continue on in their sexual deviance. Don’t confuse their moral outrage as them finally finding a compass. Hollywood will continue to protect sexual predators because they don’t even come close to having an accurate definition for healthy sexuality in the first place.

Don’t bring your false empathy. No one wants it. Bring the Gospel. Love victims, the ones of sexual assault and the ones of false allegations, by pursuing justice how God prescribed, not how our godless nation prescribes.

Judge Not! (Revisited)

In an article titled, “Yes, We Are Judgmental (But Not In the Way Everyone Thinks),” Kevin DeYoung writes:

Evangelical Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non-Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) is that’s Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6). Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus.

But this doesn’t mean Matthew 7:1 has nothing to teach conservative Christians. Like everyone else on the planet, we have a propensity to assume the worst about people, to happily pass on bad reports, and to size up individuals and situations without knowing all the facts (or even half the facts). I’m not talking about disciplining wayward church members, or having hard conversations about people caught in sin, or refusing to ever take someone’s past behavior into account, or being hopelessly naive about the way the world works, or refraining from the public exchange of ideas, or suspending all our powers of discernment until we understand something or someone with omniscience. I’m talking about the all too natural tendency to shoot first and ask questions later (or not at all).

Is there a piece of biblical wisdom more routinely ignored on the internet, not to mention in our own hearts, than Proverbs 18:17?—”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I’ve never been accused of serious misconduct that I knew to be patently false or horribly misunderstood. But if I am someday, I hope folks will remember the book of Proverbs. “”If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). Too often we are quick to speak and slow to listen. The world, the flesh, the devil, and the internet want us to rush to judgment, when the Bible urges us to suspend judgment until we’ve heard from both sides. It happens all the time: pastors sinfully judge parishoners based on hearsay, church members criticize pastors without knowing the whole story, citizen assume the worst about politicians whenever another Scandalgate emerges, kids attack their siblings at the first whiff of error.

Most of us go through life hearing dozens of reports and accusations about celebrities, athletes, pastors, and people we know, operating under the unwritten rule that where there’s smoke there must be a fire. And that’s often true. But arsonists also light fires. Sometimes the cloud of controversy conceals a raging inferno of wrongdoing. But sometimes the pungent smell of smoke turns out to be crumbs in the toaster. Best not to yell “Fire!” in a crowded building, only to find out later your neighbor likes crispy Eggos.

Some readers may wonder what has prompted this post. Nothing in particular. And everything. There is no fresh incident which inspired these thoughts. Rather, I’m writing because of the sin that I know lurks in my own heart and because of the way the blogosphere and twitterverse demand full scale denunciations the way rambunctious eight year-olds demand pixie sticks. Give them what they want and they will only ask for more.

As Christians we realize that sin deserves rebuke and the sinned against should have our deepest compassion. But we should also remember from the last days of our Lord that believing every accusation can be just as bad as making them. As long as there is Jesus, we have to allow that “controversial” and “accused” do not always mean “troublemaker” and “guilty.” We should use the same measure with others that we would want used with us, which means an open heart and an open mind. Do you want people assuming the worst about you? Do I want people passing along every bad report they hear about me? What if people talked about us the way we talk about others?

I’ve often been challenged in this regard by the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of the ninth commandment:

God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause.

Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on my God’s intense anger. I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can do guard and advance my neighbor’s good name. (Q/A 112)

Think of your tweets (as I think of mine). Think of your posts. Think of your conversation with friends. Think of what you talk about with your husband. Or how you talk about your wife. Think of your emails and texts. Think of the speech pouring out of your heart. Are we doing all we can to guard and advance our neighbor’s good name? Or are we ready to believe the worst, eager to pass out failure, and happy to pile on when the pile gets popular? If the mere assertion of wrongdoing can ruin someone’s life–if that’s the moral universe we want to sustain, one where guilt is presumed and innocence is only declared after it’s too late–then you and I are only a whisper away from seeing it all go down the drain.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”

It may not say what everyone wants it to say. But it still says a lot. Much more than many of us want to hear.

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Judge Not!”?

From his new book, Tough Topics, Sam Storms tackles the non-Christian’s favorite verse.

Whereas it comes as no surprise that most Christians have at least one favorite verse of Scripture, it is somewhat startling to learn that most non-Christians have one as well. Non-Christians may know little of the Bible, but as certainly as night follows day, they can quote for you Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And, ironically, this verse—which they love most—they understand least.

A text abused
Never has a passage of Scripture been so utterly abused, misunderstood, and misapplied as this one. Non-Christians (and not a few misguided believers as well) use this text to denounce any and all who venture to criticize or expose the sins, shortcomings, or doctrinal aberrations of others. One dare not speak ill of homosexuality, adultery, gossip, cheating on your income tax, fornication, abortion, non-Christian religions, and so on without incurring the wrath of multitudes who are convinced that Jesus, whom they despise and reject, said that we shouldn’t judge one another!
Continue reading