The Crime of Bearing False Witness
The Book of Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 17, says this:
“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
It’s true that we are apt to believe the first story that we hear, especially if it tends to confirm what we already believe, and especially when it’s something that supports our pre-existing agenda.
But this Proverb is a solemn warning to us to be careful to listen to both sides of an issue before making a judgment. More importantly, it requires that the one who is accused must have the opportunity to face and to cross-examine his accuser.
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This is and has been a crucial underpinning of our system of justice for centuries.
Regrettably, in the current emotionally charged climate surrounding many accusations in our current culture, this foundational principle of American jurisprudence is abandoned by many.
This is a shame, but it is also a dangerous thing; because to jettison due process and fundamental fairness is to put each and every one of us at risk.
Furthermore, the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 19, verse 18, deals with those who bring false charges against the innocent. It says this:
“The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother.”
Not only is “thou shalt not bear false witness” one of the Ten Commandments that Moses holds in his hand atop the US Supreme Court building, but it is also one of the firmest props of our Common Law legal system in America, a system which is based and wholly influenced by God’s Law.
You see, this commandment is a safety mechanism for all society to be protected against unjust criminal prosecution and penalty. It dissuades parties with personal vendettas and little to no evidence from bringing false accusations for fear that they may wind up on the judgment seat. This, of course, protects the innocent, which is the purpose of the law.
Now, I am sure that most of you reading have been falsely accused — perhaps you have been accused of something that you not only did not do, but that you would not do and consider to be horrible and heinous?
Well, it happens more often than you might think. And it is a dreadful experience.
Frequently in my travels, I have been on the receiving end of many false accusations and if this has happened to you, then I don’t have to tell you that the pain never totally goes away.
The only true healing I have found is by the blood of the Savior, who also was falsely accused and executed for a crime of which He was innocent.
Regrettably, we are now living through a season of screeching, politically charged accusations demanding justice for the victims of abuse. And if the accusations are true, then punishment is well-deserved so healing can take place.
But the law requires us to “inquire diligently.” For if these very serious accusations are false, then the accuser is the criminal and the accused is the actual victim.
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