In a fallen world, the contrast between justice and injustice can be hard to define on our own. For this reason, our eyes should be directed to God’s Word, which serves as the arbiter of and authority on all matters of truth and righteousness. In the Bible, we learn how to conduct ourselves in such an upside-down world.
Principles for justice can be found, for example, in Deuteronomy 19:15-21. In this passage, instructions are given for working through three distinct, real-world examples of justice. These are situations which present an accuser and defendant.
First, notice the inadequacy of a single witness. There are cases where only one witness arises against a man (v.15a). Under such circumstances, Scripture says, the accused must never be condemned. So in a “he said, she said” situation, one witness must never suffice to indict. Uncorroborated testimony is not enough to validate a charge. In positive terms: God wants us to consider people innocent until proven guilty. This is the “presumption of innocence.”
Second, notice the adequacy of multiple witnesses. There are cases where multiple witnesses arise against a man (v.15b). Under such circumstances, Scripture says, the “matter shall be established.” To cherish the presumption of innocence does not require that we abandon all possibilities of conviction and indictment. If there is sufficient evidence to condemn, we are to condemn. One does not suffice, but multiple must suffice.
Third, notice the evil of malicious witnesses. There are cases where the witness(es) testifying is false, meaning that the word spoken against the defendant is one of hate, malice, and spite (v.16). This would be someone who is suspected of making their accusation for the purpose of revenge or ill-gotten gain. When such a witness is suspected, three steps must be followed by those judging: 1) each side must testify (v.17), 2) the judges must conduct a thorough investigation (v.18), 3) whoever is discovered to be lying must receive proper punishment (v.19a). The punishment is determined by the crime alleged to have occurred, not by whether the accuser or defendant is found guilty. In other words: to maliciously accuse someone of a crime is to subject yourself to whatever punishment the falsely accused would be subject to.
The result of this Biblical standard of justice is lawfulness: “And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you,” (v.20). When justice is carefully and faithfully carried out, wicked men fear and obey. The disposition required to execute such justice is one without pity – a deep-rooted conviction that “life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” (v.21). There is a place for grace; there is a place for mercy. Government is not that place.
There is a place for grace; there is a place for mercy. Government is not that place.Tweet
Now with Biblical justice in mind, consider for a moment what is called the “Me Too” movement. This movement was begun by Tarana Burke, popularized by Alyssa Milano several years ago. The movement is concerned with sexual assault and cases of rape, claiming that sexual assault is far more prevalent in American culture than we have previously believed. America has cultivated a “rape culture,” in which people (mainly men) in powerful positions prey upon an oppressed other (mainly women). The movement drives itself by the tagline, “Believe women,” or “Believe all women.”
The heart of this movement was perhaps no more visible than in the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford 2018 controversy. Under review for approval to the Supreme Courth, Kavanaugh was accused by Blasey Ford of sexual assault when they both were in high school. Blasey Ford’s testimony before committee can be viewed here, Kavanaugh’s testimony here.
Now the most controversial part of the whole ordeal was the reality that no corroborating evidence could be found in support of Blasey Ford’s testimony. No friends, photos, videos, fingerprints, etc. could be identified to bear witness to the validity of Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh. This is to speak nothing to the actual validity of Blasey Ford’s testimony, but simply to the verifiable and judicial validity of it. So, to be clear: something could have happened, or it could not have happened. Many people certainly believed something did happen, and they were calling for Kavanaugh’s head for it.
Now how are we to respond to this “Me Too” movement, especially as applied to the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford controversy? Given the information we were presented with, and God’s standard for justice in Deuteronomy 19:15, we are to respond thus: “Only one witness has arisen against Kavanaugh, and so he is to be presumed innocent.” This is how we apply Biblical justice to tough situations on earth.
The tagline, “Believe all women,” is in itself an abandonment (however subtly) of the presumption of innocence. If we are to believe all women in a “he said, she said” scenario, then what are we doing, but allowing the testimony of a single witness to suffice for condemnation? We must be diligent and abstain from pity in such matters (v.21). We must think with our heads, not our stomachs.
Upon further analysis, “Me Too” is manifestly not really about justice. It utilizes a fair amount of justice language, but it never applies itself to actual justice. We see this not only in a subtle abandonment of the presumption of innocence, but also in an unwillingness to punish sexual predators. Consider California penal code 261 PC as an example: those convicted of rape must serve 3-8 years in prison, 7-13 years if the victim was a minor.
Is this justice? Absolutely not – how about we apply the standards of Biblical justice and execute those who harm women and children in this manner? “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die,” (Deuteronomy 22:25). Slapping rapists on the wrist with a few years behind bars (where all their needs are met, to boot) is not justice – neither does it lead to hearing and fearing (19:20). The “Me Too” movement is not actually about justice, it is about revenge against ‘toxic masculinity’ and a patriarchy that has allegedly silenced and oppressed women for centuries. The movement doesn’t actually want justice for the falsely accused or truly abused.
With all this said, we may still ask, “What about those who get away? If we presume innocence, some abusers will escape without punishment – how is justice served in these cases?” This is a genuine and fine inquiry: where is justice in the presumption of innocence?
To answer this question, we must cast our eyes upward, away from the Kavanaugh’s, Blasey Ford’s, #MeToo’s, and penal codes – upward unto the right hand of God, where there sits today a man named Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11). As the Creator King, He will one day judge all men in righteousness and leave no sin unpunished.
“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead,” (Acts 10:42). Whether alive or dead when Christ returns, all sexual predators will be brought to justice. “Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead,” (Acts 17:31). The resurrection of Christ is not only a sign that He is a sufficient Savior, but that He is also a sufficient Judge. “In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel,” (Romans 2:16). Even secret sexual abuse that no one ever learns about, except those involved, will be brought to justice. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” (Romans 14:10). All, without exception, shall stand before Christ in judgment. “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom,” (2 Timothy 4:1).
We can presume innocence because we have faith in the true and greater Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will judge perfectly.Tweet
You see, the guilty never truly get away. Sexual predators never really get “off the hook,” because Christ Himself will bring their sin unto judgment. We can presume innocence because we have faith in the true and greater Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will judge perfectly. So it’s not our job to bring balance to the universe – that’s Christ’s job. Our job is to do as He says until He returns – to be faithful. When He returns, my friend, He will make everything right.